Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ford's 150: The Widow Lincoln Premieres Jan. 22, 2015

Mary Bacon stars in The Widow Lincoln (Photo: Scott Suchman)

From our friends at Ford's Theatre...

Production Commissioned as Part of Ford's 150 Year

The Ford’s Theatre Society 2014-15 season continues with the world premiere drama The Widow Lincoln, by James Still and directed by Stephen Rayne. The production features Mary Bacon in the title role. The Widow Lincoln plays January 23 through February 22, 2015 at the historic Ford’s Theatre (511 10th Street NW, Washington, D.C.). Ford’s Theatre commissioned this world premiere as part of Ford’s 150: Remembering the Lincoln Assassination, a series of events marking the 150 years since Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre.

Ridiculed and disdained for her perceived sense of entitlement, Mary Lincoln sparked more controversy than any First Lady before or since. Set in the White House during the weeks following Lincoln’s assassination, The Widow Lincoln portrays a very human Mary in the aftermath of her husband’s death as she mourns the post-war life they will never share. Playwright James Still (The Heavens Are Hung in Black) returns with an emotional drama that explores the tenacious attitudes and heartbreaking grief of the maligned “Mrs. President.”

“As a writer I am always drawn to story and character first - and the story of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, both as individuals and as a couple, is rich with complexity, ambition and tragedy,” said playwright James Still. “I am struck by Mary Lincoln’s fierceness, by her wit and by the accumulation of personal tragedies that made it more and more difficult for her to live her life without fear. Through my research and writing, I’ve come to see a sharp political woman who is at once dramatic, tragic and, at times, triumphant.”

“As we prepare to mark this milestone year, all eyes turn to the Lincolns, and we couldn’t be happier than to have James back at Ford’s with this fresh look at the familiar Lincoln story,” said Director of Ford’s Theatre Paul R. Tetreault.

The Widow Lincoln is made possible by Lead Sponsor Exxon Mobil Corporation and Production Sponsor Fluor Corporation. The 2014-2015 season sponsors are The Home Depot and Chevron.

James Still returns to Ford’s Theatre with the world premiere of The Widow Lincoln. His play The Heavens Are Hung in Black was commissioned to reopen Ford’s Theatre in 2009, and his Looking Over the President’s Shoulder was presented at Ford’s as part of the 2003-2004 season. His work has been featured on stages throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, China, and South Africa. Still is the Playwright in Residence at Indiana Repertory Theatre where his play The House that Jack Built recently premiered. He is also an Artistic Affiliate with American Blues Theater in Chicago where his play Illegal Use of Hands recently premiered. This season his new play Appoggiatura premiers at the Denver Center Theatre. Other new projects include Miranda at Illusion Theater in Minneapolis and April 4, 1968 at Indiana Repertory Theatre. Awards include the William Inge Festival's Otis Guernsey New Voices in American Theatre award, three-time winner of the Distinguished Play Award from AATE, and three-times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His work in children's television has received five Emmy nominations as writer and producer for Maurice Sendak's Little Bear, Paz, Little Bill, Miffy, and Frog and Friends.

Stephen Rayne returns to Ford’s Theatre following his 2013 production of Our Town. Rayne’s Ford’s Theatre directing credits include the musical Parade, Sabrina Fair and the world premiere production of The Heavens Are Hung In Black during the 2009 Ford’s Theatre Reopening Season. Recent productions also include The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Chantecler (Buenos Aires, Paris and Japan), The Two Worlds of Charlie F (London, Toronto and UK tour), and The Long Way Home (Sydney Theatre, Australian Tour). Additional regional directorial credits include productions of A View from the Bridge, A Christmas Carol, Hay Fever, Closer, Equus and House and Garden at the Alley Theatre, and Macbeth for the New York Arts Festival. Rayne has directed more than 50 productions in Europe, Latin America and Asia, including productions in London’s West End and with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and Royal Opera House, among others.

Mary Bacon makes her Ford’s Theatre and Washington debut in the role of Mary Lincoln. She has appeared on Broadway in Trevor Nunn’s productions of Arcadia and Rock n’ Roll; in Giant at the Public Theatre, and in productions for McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Dallas Theatre Center and Primary Stages. Bacon’s television credits include roles in HBO’s Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire, CBS’s The Good Wife, and others.

The all-women cast for The Widow Lincoln also includes Caroline Clay, Lynda Gravatt, Melissa Graves, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, Gracie Terzian and Brynn Tucker.

Stephen Rayne’s design team includes Scenic Designer Tony Cisek (Driving Miss Daisy, Our Town, 1776, Parade, Black Pearl Sings!, Jitney); Costume Designer Wade Laboissonniere (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; Violet; Hello, Dolly!; 1776; Parade; others); Lighting Designer Pat Collins (Our Town, Parade, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Elmer Gantry, others); Projection Designer Clint Allen (The Laramie Project, Fly, The Heavens Are Hung In Black) and Sound Designers David Budries (Violet; Hello, Dolly!; Our Town; 1776; Parade; others) and Nathan A. Roberts. The Widow Lincoln also features Wig and Makeup Design by Anne Nesmith (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Violet, Our Town, Necessary Sacrifices, Parade, others). The production team includes Production Stage Manager Brandon Prendergast and Assistant Stage Manager Hannah R. O’Neil.

There will be audio-described performances of The Widow Lincoln on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 14, 2015, at 2 p.m. A captioned performance is scheduled for Saturday, February 21, 2015, at 2 p.m. A sign-interpreted performance is Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.

Following the 7:30 p.m. performance of The Widow Lincoln on Thursday, January 29, 2015, talk theatre with fellow audience members at a Meet and Mingle event with playwright James Still, who will be on hand to discuss the production. This free event takes place at the restaurant Bistro D’Oc (518 10th St., NW), located just across the street from Ford’s Theatre. A cash bar will be available.

Following the 7:30 p.m. performance of The Widow Lincoln on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, join Pat Krider, Executive Director of the National First Ladies Library, for a post-performance discussion on the changing role of the First Ladies over the past 150 years.

Patrons age 35 and under are invited to attend Under 35 Night for The Widow Lincoln, Wednesday, February 18, 2015. Use promo code UNDER35 to purchase $18 tickets to the February 18, 7:30 p.m. performance, then stay late for a complimentary glass of wine. Spend time with other young arts fans, meet new people and see Ford’s Theatre in a brand new light. Purchase tickets in advance through Ticketmaster online or by calling (800) 982-2787. The Under 35 discount (no reception) also is available for performances Tuesdays through Thursdays during the run of The Widow Lincoln. Patrons must show valid ID at the Ford’s Theatre Box Office when claiming Under 35 tickets. Limit of six per person.

Senior citizens (60+) may purchase discounted tickets to weekday and weekend matinees of The Widow Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in the premium orchestra and rear orchestra. These tickets may be purchased in advance through Ticketmaster online or by calling (800) 982-2787. Patrons must show ID at the Ford’s Theatre Box Office. Limit of two per person. Senior prices for The Widow Lincoln are: weekday matinees: $31; weekend matinees: $34.

One of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital, Ford’s Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in the nation’s capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.

The Ford’s Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producer Frankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford’s as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theatergoing public have recognized Ford’s for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith and Necessary Sacrifices, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. Under the leadership of Wayne R. Reynolds, Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus (Chairman 2007 to 2012), the mission of Ford’s Theatre Society expanded to include education as a central pillar. This expansion led to the creation and construction of the Center for Education and Leadership, which opened in February 2012. Currently, under the leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Eric A. Spiegel, Ford’s enters a second phase of strategic planning to ensure the organization’s place as a national destination for exploring Lincoln’s legacy and the American experience through the intersection of history, performance and education.