By B. Altschuler
This publication seeks to fill a big hole within the literature approximately fictional representations of presidents via learning greater than forty performs, written when you consider that 1900, that have had favorite productions on or off-Broadway or in one other significant city.
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Extra info for Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency
The play comes to a stirring conclusion with Lincoln’s speech to a cheering crowd as he departs from Springfield to assume the presidency amid fears of assassination. As in the debates, Sherwood blends material from other speeches into the actual words used that day, transforming what was a largely personal address into one that ends with a restatement of the issues thematic to the play. “I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return,” he tells those gathered, but stresses more the gravity of the nation’s plight with the very ideals of the Declaration of Independence being threatened.
It is likely no coincidence that the first major revival, scheduled for the play’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1963, occurred during the civil rights struggle. ” However, the play itself was beginning to seem outdated to critics less enamored of heroic presidents, even those as obviously great as Lincoln. ”84 The revival closed after 40 performances. 24 Acting Presidents By the time of Lincoln Center’s 1993 version, the play was seen by many as little more than a historical curiosity. ”85 Critics generally agreed with Waterston’s original opinion.
By using a debate format, The Rivalry also had a built-in dramatic conflict missing from many of the other Lincoln plays. Corwin’s justification can be found in his notes on the play: “No other platform in history pitted against each other a protagonist so gifted with vision, humor, and broad sympathy, as Lincoln or an opponent more polished, resourceful, adroit, and skilled in debate than Douglas. Their personalities, language and styles of speech, as well as their ideas, are in constant conflict: their arguments are constantly rebutted, renewed, attacked and counter-attacked from fresh angles.