Dallas — This week, Second Thought Theatre closes its 2014 season with the world premiere of Booth, written by Steven Walters from a story by Erik Archilla and Walters. The play, which received a $40,000 grant from a 2013 Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund, via TACA, tells the story of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. It previews this Wednesday and Thursday, opens Friday, May 23 and runs through June 14 at Bryant Hall on the Kalita Humphreys Theater campus.
The play is the result of years of research about Booth, in what began as a class project when Walters and Archilla were students at Baylor University, before Walters co-founded STT in Dallas. The characters are based on real-life people, including members of Lincoln's staff, law officials, and theater folk that Booth—a renowned Shakespearean actor—worked with. The play chronicles the events leading up to Lincoln’s murder and the search to bring his assassin to justice, "intertwined in ways that bring new light to the conspiracy and new depth to the man everyone knows the name of, but few know very much about."
Some of the dialogue comes from court transcripts and Booth's writings, and there are parallels to Shakespeare plays, notably Julius Casear and Hamlet.
With this post, TheaterJones begins an ongoing video series, filmed, edited by and starring Montgomery Sutton, who plays Booth, reading from the assassin's letters (not all of these passages are in the play). Subsequent entries will appear on Mondays throughout the run of the play. Also look for a series of short films about Booth on STT's Facebook page in the coming weeks.
About this week's letter: In November of 1864, John Wilkes Booth wrote this "To Whom it MayConcern" letter to explain and justify his planned kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln to the American people, and had delivered it to his abolitionist brother-in-law, John. S. Clarke, in a sealed envelope for safe-keeping, knowing it would only be opened if something shocking befell him. After the assassination, it was widely published in papers across the country after Clarke delivered it to the press to avoid any image of impropriety or involvement with the operation.
You can read more about the play in a forthcoming interview with Walters on TheaterJones. To see more about venue, ticket prices and mass transit, click the info icon in the floating menu at the bottom left of your screen. Click the calendar icon to see performance times.