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

By B. Altschuler

This e-book seeks to fill an immense hole within the literature approximately fictional representations of presidents through learning greater than forty performs, written given that 1900, that have had well known productions on or off-Broadway or in one other significant city.

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Additional info for Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency

Sample text

Although Douglas won the seat, the debates gave Lincoln a national reputation. However, the length and format presented significant problems for any would-be theatrical adapter. Seven three-hour debates had to be condensed into a theatrically manageable amount of time. Rather than the statements and rebuttals of a minute or two of modern political debates, the 1858 events began with an hour’s opening statement, followed by a 90-minute rebuttal and a half-hour reply by the first speaker. Despite the ability of each to ask questions of the other, the debates more resembled 21 speeches than the give-andtake expected today or even in the 1950s.

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. When Madison tells her he will ignore Burr’s schemes out of love for her as long as there is no damage to the nation, she replies, “A woman doesn’t think in ‘nations’!

As the play concludes, Abe describes a dream in which he is assassinated to Mary. He then tells her of his love for her by reading from a Robert Burns poem. He speaks of his hopes of eventually returning to Springfield, where they can live the rest of their lives in peace. 115 Most of the material would be familiar to the reader of a good Lincoln biography, or even to someone who had seen previous plays on the subject. The short excerpts from the debates seem a very abridged version of The Rivalry.

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