has remained a working theatre that presents performances that entertain, inspire empathy and share insights into historical events and individuals like Lincoln himself. See more about the history we showcase on our stage.

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A Knack for Presenting Lincoln's Story on Stage

On February 12, 1968, Ford’s Theatre Society presented the first full-length stage performance since the night President and Mary Lincoln came to see Our American Cousin. In the 50 years since, Ford’s Theatre has remained a working theatre that presents performances that entertain, inspire empathy and share insights into historical events and individuals like Lincoln himself. Take a look back at some of our history plays through the years.

 

The late Roy Dotrice portrayed the 16th president in "Mr. Lincoln" at Ford's Theatre. Ford's archival photo.
Mr. Lincoln
January 14-February 17, 1980

Ford’s Theatre Society Founder, Frankie Hewitt, claimed to have read approximately 36 different plays about Lincoln before she chose Mr. Lincoln as the first play about our 16th president to be produced at Ford’s. Mr. Lincoln was a one-man show starring British actor Roy Dotrice. New York Times reporter John J. O’Connor said, “When Mr. Dotrice ... bows to the empty box where the President once sat, the sense of historical continuity and national loss is profoundly felt.”

 
 
 
 
The Heavens Are Hung In Black
February 3-March 8, 2009
David Selby as Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Cook as Tad Lincoln in the Ford’s Theatre production of “The Heavens Are Hung In Black,” by James Still and directed by Stephen Rayne. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
David Selby as Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Cook as Tad Lincoln in the Ford’s Theatre production of “The Heavens Are Hung In Black,” by James Still and directed by Stephen Rayne. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

In February 2009, Ford’s reopened after a year and a half of renovations. To mark the reopening and the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, Ford’s Director Paul Tetreault commissioned a new work by playwright James Still about the trying months between Willie Lincoln’s passing and Abraham Lincoln’s writing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Heavens Are Hung In Black featured David Selby as Lincoln.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danielle A. Drakes as Elizabeth Keckly. Photo by Gary Erskine.
Danielle A. Drakes portrayed Elizabeth Keckly in one of our "History on Foot" walking tours. Photo by Gary Erskine.
A Free Black Woman: Elizabeth Keckly
Spring and Summer 2009 and 2010

Some of our historical performances take to the streets! Actress Danielle A. Drakes portrayed Elizabeth Keckly, dressmaker and friend to Mary Lincoln, in this History on Foot walking tour that transported attendees back in time to Civil War Washington.

 

 The Rivalry

January 22- February 14, 2010
Rick Foucheux, Robert Parsons and Sarah Zimmerman. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

In 2010 we traveled back to earlier years of Lincoln’s career, long before his presidency. Robert Parsons played Abraham Lincoln opposite Rick Foucheux as Stephen Douglas and Sarah Zimmerman as Adele Douglas. The play recreated moments from the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 when Lincoln and Douglas competed for U.S. Senator.

 
 
Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
March 13-May 20, 2015
Photo by Scott Suchman.
The cast of "Freedom's Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War" at Ford's Theatre. Photo by Scott Suchman.

On the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, Ford’s presented Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. This dynamic musical featured a script of Lincoln’s own words, music by Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn and lyrics inspired by historical letters written during the Civil War.

 

 

 

 

Sara Cohen is Marketing and Social Media Manager at Ford’s Theatre, where she helms our Facebook and Twitter accounts, among other projects that share Lincoln’s legacy with the world. Follow her on Twitter at @SaraECohen.