Ford’s Theatre, the historic performing arts venue built in August 1863, has announced its line-up for the upcoming season, including a new way to experience the DC holiday institution, A Christmas Carol.
The venue, most known for being the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, along with with the Petersen House where he died, are preserved as Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.
In light of the pandemic and guidance from health professionals, the fall season, including performances of Ford’s annual telling of A Christmas Carol–Charles Dickens’ tale of how visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future stir the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge to redeem himself–will not be in-person this year. In December, the theater will release a radio version of the yuletide classic directed by Michael Wilson with Craig Wallace as Scrooge, who is reprising his role for the fifth year. Details on how to access the recording will be forthcoming.
“We hope this version will give families and their loved ones a new way to revisit the play’s timeless message of hope and charity,” said Ford’s Theatre director Paul R. Tetreault in a statement.
In response to the nation’s reckoning for racial justice, Ford’s Theatre also revisited its original lineup for spring 2021 and recently announced that the season’s performances would focus on civil rights icons, with dates and performances forthcoming as the season gets closer. The season will kick off with the previously scheduled My Lord, What a Night, a new play about the real-life friendship of Albert Einstein (played by Christoper Bloch) and contralto Marian Anderson (played by Felicia Curry) that’s written by Deborah Brevoort and directed by Sheldon Epps. Next up will be Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, a reimagination of the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; KenYatta Rogers will play King with Shannon Dorsey will play Camae. The spring season will end with a new production of Necessary Sacrifices, written by Richard Hellesen and directed by Psalmayene 24, which covers encounters between Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, in which Craig Wallace will portray Douglass. Fords’ is also launching The Lincoln Legacy Commissions, in which five or more BIPOC playwrights will write new works about BIPOC figures in history.
“I am excited to join our craftspeople and audiences when we safely return to Ford’s Theatre,” Wallace said in a statement. “This season’s works are sure to stimulate conversation and debate as well as entertain. COVID-19 paused us, but did not stop us!”
Though the theater remains closed for in-person performances, virtual programming continues, with bi-weekly live-streamed Cabinet Conversations with discussions with historians, artists and leaders; monthly Virtual Play Readings and Distance-Learning programs covering the story of President Lincoln’s assassination and the Civil War-era in Washington, DC.
“The mission of Ford’s Theatre is to celebrate the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln and explore the American experience,” Tetreault said. “With our new spring season and our commissions, we journey from the Civil War to today, illuminating figures in American history who have fought in the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equity. While celebrating the work of these icons, these plays also recognize that this work is not finished, and that each of us must play a role in creating a just and peaceful nation for all.”
Want more arts and culture news? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters here.