In 1865, the Jewish holiday of Passover began the day after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. This historical moment is the jumping off place for Matthew Lopez's suspenseful Civil War drama The Whipping Man, which receives its Central New York premiere at the Kitchen Theatre in downtown Ithaca this month. The Whipping Man runs from January 23rd through February 10th, with preview performances January 23-25, Opening Night on January 26, and the closing performance on February 10.
The Civil War is coming to an end when Caleb, a Jewish Confederate soldier, returns to his Richmond home. The house is in ruins, and the only people remaining are two of his family's former slaves, Simon and John. All three men consider this their home and are bound to it. Caleb is badly wounded but unwilling to go to a hospital, Simon is anxiously awaiting the return of his wife and daughter, John has nowhere else to go--and all three hold painful secrets. Bound by their shared faith and history, the men struggle with their responsibility toward each other and their hopes for the future in this moving drama.
Directing The Whipping Man is Jesse Bush*, director of numerous Kitchen Theatre plays (The Brothers Size, Happy Days, The Santaland Diaries, and others). Simon is played by Alexander Thomas*, most recently seen as Carl in this season's Opus and William King in last season's Broke-ology. John is played by Darian Dauchan*, who played Elegba in The Brothers Size as well as appearing in two solo pieces he wrote: Media Madness and Entertainer's Eulogy. Appearing at the Kitchen Theatre for the first time is Daniel Berlingeri, a senior acting major at Ithaca College.
The creative team also includes: Scenic Designer David Arsenault, Lighting Designer Tyler M. Perry, Costume Designer: Lisa Boquist, Sound Designer: Lesley Greene, Properties Designer: Megan Christine and Stage Manager Jennifer Schilansky*. Performances take place in the Kitchen Theatre, located at 417 W. State / Martin Luther King, Jr. Street in Ithaca's West End neighborhood, just three blocks from The Commons.
In conjunction with the Ithaca premiere of The Whipping Man, the Kitchen Theatre Company will present a number of ancillary events: free pre-show discussions with local experts on Civil War history, slavery, and Judaism, and post-show talk backs with the cast and director. The first event will be on Thursday, January 17th at 7:30pm: Cornell Professor Ross Brann will speak about Jewish immigration to the U.S. in the 19th century and Jewish involvement in the American Civil War in the south and the north. On Thursday, January 31st, County Historian Carol Kammen will speak on "Tompkins County in the Civil War." On Saturday, February 9th, Rabbi Scott Glass will lead a post-show discussion with the actors, and on Friday, February 1st and Friday, February 9th, there will be free post-show talkbacks with the actors and other members of the creative team. More events are likely to be added, so check our website at www.kitchentheatre.org for up-to-date information. During the run of The Whipping Man, the Kitchen Theatre lobby will feature an exhibit of Civil War quilts on loan from the History Center and a new exhibit of local Civil War soldiers' graves photographed by Dave Burbank and curated by Carol Kammen.
The Kitchen Theatre is grateful for the support of production Sponsor James Orcutt Real Estate.