Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency by B. Altschuler

By B. Altschuler

This publication seeks to fill an enormous hole within the literature approximately fictional representations of presidents by way of learning greater than forty performs, written when you consider that 1900, that have had sought after productions on or off-Broadway or in one other significant city.

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This beginning was particularly dramatic at Ford’s Theatre, where the play had its American premiere after first opening in Canada, and where a version for television would be taped. The remainder of the first act depicts Lincoln’s pre-presidential life in Illinois. Reminiscing about his early adulthood with folksy anecdotes, Lincoln switches to a more serious tone to explain how his witnessing of slave auctions was the root of his abolitionist views. The tale’s emotional impact is softened when it ends with the winning bidder proving to be an abolitionist minister who immediately frees the purchased slave.

Plays about Abraham Lincoln 19 Of all the Lincoln plays, the most durable has been Robert Sherwood’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois, which covers the 30 years before Lincoln left Springfield to assume the presidency. This length of time allows as much as 20 years to pass between scenes. The audience’s familiarity with Lincoln’s life permits Sherwood to do this without having to explain everything that occurred during the gap. Sherwood’s interest in Lincoln went back to when he was thirteen and entered an essay contest commemorating the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.

Madison’s serious faults, most notably his owning of slaves, are never mentioned. ” That is particularly apt as Dolly Madison is given credit by historians for creating the role of the First Lady. According to Catherine Allgor, she “took the opportunity to transform the president’s wife into a figure of national importance, expanding the role into an office. ”14 Nevertheless, there are limits to the play’s depiction of Dolly as an independent woman. Her decision to earn her own living is only a temporary expedient until she remarries.

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