Pasadena Playhouse Celebrates Patricia Morison
Jan 27, 2015
On April 13, 1865, the war is over and Caleb DeLeon returns home to Richmond, Virginia to find the family mansion in ruins. Surprisingly, it is being guarded by the family’s elderly house slave Simon. These two men are later joined be another family slave, young John…
2 days ago
While many of the stories within our tradition are rich with meaning, the most powerful and influential one on my life has been the story of Passover. I believe Passover is about strengthening one of the most important virtues- being a person of integrity. We step back and look at how the world we have created around us may mirror something that is incongruent with our Jewish principles…
|Photo by Debora Robinson/SCRCharlie Robinson and Adam Haas Hunter The Whipping Man|
There isn’t a great deal of new ground staked in Matthew Lopez’ 2006 play The Whipping Man. The Civil War was America’s worst nightmare, slavery its greatest evil, and no one — free, enslaved, North or South — emerged unscarred.
COSTA MESA — Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man is not a new play, but it is the first play he wrote that brought him notoriety, and a New York production that put him on the map as one of the most promising young playwrights writing today. It premiered in Montclair, NJ, at Luna Stage, in 2006 and has been widely produced since, including a 2010 production at San Diego’s Old Globe. But the current production at South Coast Repertory, presented in association with the Pasadena Playhouse, is the closest it’s come to Los Angeles, and it will come even closer when it moves to The Playhouse in February.
It was in the shadow of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq that playwright Matthew Lopez began writing The Whipping Man. “Although this play is not about these things, it was certainly on my mind,” he says by phone from his home in New York. “If you look at the themes of destruction and renewal and the unexpected upheaval in the play, I think the writing is influenced by that great uncertainty that I and my fellow New Yorkers felt in those years.”
The Whipping Man tells the story of three men dealing with the fallout of the Civil War, coming from three different perspectives and yet finding their lives intertwined in unexpected ways. Caleb, a Confederate soldier, returns from the war wounded both physically and emotionally. He comes home to Simon and John, two of his former slaves who were recently freed. The three of them must try to make sense of their new lives and relationships, as everything they have ever known has been turned upside down…
THE WHIPPING MAN
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House, at long last ending what is still the deadliest war in United States history. Five days later, President Abraham Lincoln was dead, the victim of an assassin’s bullet. Coincidentally, during this fateful week in our country’s history, Jews in both North and South observed Pesach, the festival of Passover, celebrating the freeing of the Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt…
|Courtesy South Coast Repertory|
|Cast of the Whipping Man (left to right): Adam Haas Hunter,Charlie Robinson and Jarrod M. Smith|
Wait a minute: there were Jews, real, live, Torah-reading Jews in the Confederate states in the Civil War, many of whom actually fought FOR the South? And some of these Jews had slaves who were raised Jewish and actually considered themselves Jews?
Matthew Lopez’ play, The Whipping Man may sound like a piece of historical speculative fiction, but it’s based on true accounts of people like Judah Benjamin, a prominent Louisiana lawyer who was the first Jew ever elected to the U.S. Senate and who also served as the Confederacy’s secretary of state.
Charlie Robinson and Adam Haas Hunter in South Coast Repertory’s “The Whipping Man.” (Courtesy of Debora Robinson/SCR / January 7, 2015)
The time is 1865. The Civil War has ended. President Lincoln has been assassinated. Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederacy, lies in ruins. Amid this devastation, three survivors of the conflict — two ex-slaves and their former master — struggle for survival…