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.
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
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.
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.
January 22- February 14, 2010
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
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.