SYRACUSE Since opening off-Broadway in 2010 to critical acclaim and winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for best play, The Whipping Man has become one of the most produced plays in the country.
Syracuse Stage takes its turn staging the drama by Matthew Lopez from Today through Feb. 16 in the Archbold Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/Drama Complex, 820 E. Genesee St.
What better time to delve into a play that examines the moment of the end of the Civil War and slavery than on the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in the midst of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, director Timothy Bond said in a news release.
The Whipping Man is set in Richmond, Va., April, 1865. The Civil War has ended and Caleb DeLeon, a badly wounded Confederate soldier, stumbles into the ruin of what was once his home. His family has fled the citys destruction, leaving two former slaves, Simon and John, to wait and watch. Together they care for the wounded soldier, and having adopted the religion of their former owners, celebrate Passover.
The play is described as a mesmerizing drama where secrets are revealed, with a plot that twists and turns.
The deeply entwined histories and relationships of the plays deftly-drawn characters live in its complex explorations of shared faith, the meaning of the words family and freedom, and all of it illuminated with honesty, precision, and fine craft by Mr. Lopez, said Mr. Bond, Syracuse Stages producing artistic director.
Mr. Lopez was inspired to write The Whipping Man when he learned that Passover in 1865 began the day after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It declared that all persons held as slaves ... shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. It applied only to states designated as being in rebellion.
Following the success of The Whipping Man, Mr. Lopez became one of the most widely produced new playwrights in America. He holds new play commissions from several companies. He was a season two staff writer on Aaron Sorkins HBO series The Newsroom and is currently developing a screen adaptation of Javier Mariass Your Face Tomorrow trilogy for Brad Pitts Plan B Entertainment.
Pre-and post-show events during the run of The Whipping Man at Syracuse Stage include a Wednesday @ 1 lecture on Feb. 5 (Jews and the Civil War with Samuel D. Gruber, Ph.D, Rothman Family Lecturer in Judaic Studies at Syracuse University), an actor talkback following the 7 p.m. show on Friday, Feb. 9, and prologues (moderated discussions with actors) this Saturday and on Feb. 8 and Feb. 13, also Saturdays.