Bunbury Theatre, a staple on the Louisville theatre scene for more than two decades, will launch its third production of the 2008-09 Season with the opening of The Honest Abe 23 Minute Play Festival a series of 23 minute plays by Nancy-Gall Clayton, Adam Watson, John C. Finnegan and Bunbury's Producing Artistic Director, Juergen K. Tossmann. The plays, which open on Thursday, February 5th, showcase the writing of these four playwrights commissioned to write a play with the single theme LINCOLN. No other perimeters were given.
"It's going to be an exciting evening of thought-provoking and funny plays," says Tossmann. "It will be different than any festival you've seen. As I began to formulate the concept for this production, I reached an impasse. I was working on my play entitled Wilkes You Schmuck. It originally started out as a play about John Wilkes Booth but morphed into a treatment about the theatre itself. Actually, Booth has little to do with it. It deals with the backstage antics of the cast and crew and their plot to oust the critic. Although it began as an independent play, I decided to break it up in segments and weave it in and out of the other three plays. It's now interdependent! We're having a ball with this and it certainly is unique."
The evening begins with a segment from Wilkes You Schmuck and transitions into Schroedinger's Cat and Other Chaos Theories….Solitare by John C. Finnegan. Finnegan's play opens on the 6th Floor Depository on November 22 1963, moments before Kennedy was assassinated. In 1935 Austrian Physicist Erwin Schrödinger developed a theory out of a thought experiment, which deals with quantum mechanics. The play is a conversation between Oswald and a Girl Scout whose parents brought her to see the Event. The two engage in a game of Solitaire in which they discuss variables. "We ask the question, what if Oswald actually had a conscience and didn't want to pull that trigger? For a brief instance this Girl Scout and a game of Solitaire distract him. What does this have to do with Lincoln? Well, what if Booth…..? Well, you'll have to see the play, " says Finnegan.
The second play of the evening is Images of Mr. Lincoln, which offers snapshots of women who influenced Lincoln. Included is the young girl who suggested Lincoln grow a beard, Mary Todd who was urged not to marry him, and a former slave who befriended Mary after the family moved into the Executive Mansion. Using Lincoln's friendship with the photographer Mathew Brady, these glimpses into Lincoln's life are revealed as he speaks with Brady. Several of Brady's photographs will be featured in the Playbill. "With a female playwright and female director (Anne-Marie Alexander) is it any wonder my play highlights three women?" says Nancy-Gall Clayton.
What will be my legacy once I'm gone? "It's a question for Presidents, and for us," says Adam Watson. Adam's play explores this question in Occassional Poisonings From the Kitchen. As Adam puts it, " Unfortunately, as James Garfield discovers, there is the legendary legacy of Lincoln . . . and there is the tepid accomplishments of everybody else. The play is set in a limbo-like "office" where Lincoln and Garfield have the unwanted job of welcoming assassinated Potus's on their way to the Other Side. Adam describes his play as "a bit of Beckett mixed with Monty Python mixed with David McCullough."
Matt Orme plays the role of Abraham Lincoln in all of the pieces. "Matt is such a versatile actor," says Tossmann. "Not only does he play Lincoln in all of the plays, he balances playing himself in the dressing room scenes in Wilkes You Schmuck." Orme has been performing for over 40 years. He has a striking resemblance to Lincoln and has done extensive research on the man. "I know more about Lincoln than I want to know," says Orme. "He was a fascinating man and I'm excited about bringing my interpretation of Lincoln to Bunbury."