Monday, December 16, 2013

Juggling our final two Civil War plays

Confederates in the Attic opens this April.
Photo (c) 2012 John Murden Jr. Used by permission.

When we announced the five shows that make up our Civil War Sesquicentennial Project back in 2011, only one of the scripts actually existed--Augustus Thomas's 1918 play The Copperhead, which as far as we could find out hadn't been produced in maybe 70 years when we opened the Project with it in 2011.  (And which is not related to the recent Ron Maxwell film Copperhead.)  The others were little more than general ideas for shows, but with dates assigned for their world premieres in 2012, '13, '14, and '15.  I suppose it  was inevitable that that there would at some point need to be an adjustment to these plans, and here it is.

We're flipping the final two shows of the Project.  The Bloodhound Law by Kristine Thatcher (original working title:  Fugitive Slave) was scheduled to open in April 2014, but she and I have agreed to delay it until 2015.  So Confederates in the Attic, my adaptation of Tony Horwitz's bestseller, which was scheduled for 2015, is being moved up a year.

The Bloodhound Law will open in April 2015.
The original inspiration for The Bloodhound Law was an 1850 series of meetings of the Chicago Common Council dealing with its repudiation of the Fugitive Slave Act and Senator Stephen Douglas's rebuttal of that repudiation, as a way of examining the effect of the Act on strongly abolitionist Chicago and its thriving community of free black families.  The tale has grown in the telling, as Professor Tolkien said about a different story, and Kristine is now wrestling with it in a broader context, starting with the murder of Elijah Lovejoy in downstate Alton in 1837 leading us to the Council's actions thirteen years later.  As a result, the play is taking longer to write than we imagined it would, so it will go up in 2015 instead.

We're in the midst of auditions for Confederates in the Attic now.  We need fourteen actors to play 106 characters who sweep across the modern-day South:  Civil War re-enactors, Klan recruiters, national park rangers, teachers, students, and dozens of others.  Andrea Dymond is directing.  It begins performances April 25.

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