Lincoln Two Ways: Tips & Tidbits for the Theatrically Inclined

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... In his own words.
  • ... In his own words.
President Abraham Lincoln once spoke of the “better angels” of our nature. The "Lincoln Portrait," being performed this weekend as a part of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks series, is the sound of a person struggling to find those same angels and set them free.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor Aaron Copland was commissioned to create a new work inspired by the life of a great American. Initially the composer wanted to honor Walt Whitman, but he eventually turned to Lincoln, suspending the President's own words on a bed of melancholy, majesty and brass. America was in a Depression. The world was at war. Words first used by the great emancipator and preserver of the Union often found their way into the mouth of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, just as they now seem to find their way into the mouth of President Barack Obama.

For a chance to let those words seep into your own imagination you might want to spend some time with the MSO this weekend.

As Ron Popeil might say, "That's not all..." Former MSO concertmaster Joy Brown Weiner and guest concertmaster Ellen Cockerham will be the featured soloists for Bach’s Concerto in D-minor and the evening concludes with a performance of Strauss’ Ein Heldenlebenin.

For details and ticket information click here.

The cast of The Whipping Man
  • The cast of "The Whipping Man"

There’s another way to experience the 16th President this weekend. The Hattiloo Theater’s strong production of The Whipping Man isn’t actually about Honest Abe but Lincoln’s intense spirit is felt throughout. Set in a war-ruined mansion in Richmond, VA, April, 1865— the month of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre — The Whipping Man reunites a Jewish Confederate with his newly freed slaves.

The Whipping Man actively aims to portray the best of all possible relationships between the master and his human property. The audience is presented with a real family in faith and blood alike. The unusual approach doesn’t mitigate the atrocities of slavery and the African diaspora however, it confirms and even magnifies them.

Note to the squeamish: The live onstage amputation is performed in mercifully dim light. You'll live through it, but it may leave a scar.

The Whipping Man also showcases the considerable talents of Memphis actors Bart Mallard, Delvyn Brown, and Shadeed Salim. Imagined as a jazz trio Brown and Mallard are the soloists and Salim is the steady heartbeat. It’s a terrific ensemble in an old-fashioned play that feels positively up to date.

For more details here's your click.

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