April, 1865: the Civil War is drawing to a close. Caleb DeLeon, a Jewish Confederate soldier, returns wounded from the battlefield to find his family home in ruins, abandoned by everyone except Simon and John, two former slaves, who were raised as Jews in the DeLeon home. As the three men reunite to celebrate Passover, they uncover a tangle of secrets... ties that bind them together and that, ultimately, could cost each man his freedom.
Content Advisory: Recommended for ages 12 and up. Contains strong language and one scene of explicit physical trauma.
Avery Glymph: (John) is reprising the role of John from the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man at The Old Globe in San Diego, a production that was also directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Glymph most recently appeared in Race at Hartford TheaterWorks. Having acted on Broadway in The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival’s The Tempest, other New York credits include Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra (both NYSF); “Hope” is the Thing With Feathers, The Drama Dept.; ‘Maid, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and McReele, Roundabout Theatre Company. Regional credits include Angels in America, Playmakers Repertory Company; The Overwhelming and Stick Fly, Contemporary American Theater Festival; Spunk and The Tempest, Actors Theatre of Louisville; Lost Creek Township, Crossroads Theatre (Regional Tony Award season); and Fences at Cape Fear. He has made numerous film and television appearances. Glymph holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The North Carolina School of the Arts. less is reprising the role of John from the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man at The Old Globe in San Diego, a production that was also directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Glymph most recently appeared in Race at Hartford TheaterWorks. Having acted on Broadway in The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare... more
Giovanna Sardelli: (Director) collaborated with Matthew Lopez on the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man, for which she received an NAACP nomination for Best Director, and on the world premiere of his play Somewhere. Both productions were at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Sardelli has worked with native Ohio playwrights Theresa Rebeck – on the world premiere of her play Dead Accounts at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park – and on numerous world premieres with Rajiv Joseph including The North Pool, TheatreWorks and Barrington Stage Company; All This Intimacy, Second Stage Theatre; The Leopard and The Fox, AlterEgo Theatre; Huck & Holden, Cherry Lane Theatre; and Animals Out of Paper, Second Stage, for which she received the Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Director. Her production of Lord of the Flies recently premiered at Barrington Stage Company, and she has developed plays with The Lark, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Sundance Institute, The Playwrights’ Center, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center among others. She spent two seasons as director of the Shakespeare Sedona Institute, two seasons as artistic director of Studio Tisch, and she was recently named resident director of The Dorset Theatre Festival, where she has numerous directing credits. Sardelli received her Master of Fine Arts in Acting from New York University and is also a graduate of their Directors’ Lab. She is on the faculty of the Graduate Acting and Dance Programs at NYU. Upcoming productions include Somewhere at TheatreWorks and The North Pool at the Vineyard Theatre. less collaborated with Matthew Lopez on the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man, for which she received an NAACP nomination for Best Director, and on the world premiere of his play Somewhere. Both productions were at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Sardelli has worked with native Ohio playwrights... more
Russell G. Jones: (Simon) is a New York City-based multidisciplinary theatre artist who hails from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He is an Obie Award winner for originating the role of Christian in 2009’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and a Screen Actors Guild Award winner as part of the ensemble of Traffic. Other theatre work includes The Power of Duff, The Powerhouse Theater/Vassar; Our Lady of 121st Street, Union Square Theater; God, The Crackhouse and The Devil, La MaMa; and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, Center Stage New York. A member of LAByrinth Theater Company since 1995, he has worked as a teaching artist throughout the New York tri-state area for 15 years and has served on LAByrinth’s education team since its inception, helping to create its master class and intensive ensemble workshops. Jones has been seen on four versions of Law & Order and never as the criminal. He is currently creating a theatrical exploration to empower cross-cultural dialogue about race, called The Blind Spot. less is a New York City-based multidisciplinary theatre artist who hails from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He is an Obie Award winner for originating the role of Christian in 2009’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and a Screen Actors Guild Award winner as part of the ensemble of Traffic. Other theatre work includes... more
Shawn Fagan: (Caleb) played the title role in Wife to James Whelan at Mint Theater Company, earning him a Backstage Memorable New York Stage Performance of 2010 award. Other New York City acting credits include The Misanthrope at The Pearl, Peninsula at Soho Rep, Freakshow and Dearest Eugenia Haggis with Clubbed Thumb, Milk ‘n’ Honey and Ajax: 100% Fun with LightBox. Favorite regional theatre acting work includes Prince Hal/Henry V in The Making of a King: Henry IV & V at Playmakers Repertory Company; Hugh in The Voysey Inheritance at The Denver Center for The Performing Arts; Hamlet in the world premiere of Wittenberg at Arden Theatre Company; Texas in Intimations for Saxophone at Arena Stage, directed by Anne Bogart; The Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington D.C.); Dallas Theater Center; Arden Theatre Company; Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; American Players Theatre; and Utah and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festivals. less played the title role in Wife to James Whelan at Mint Theater Company, earning him a Backstage Memorable New York Stage Performance of 2010 award. Other New York City acting credits include The Misanthrope at The Pearl, Peninsula at Soho Rep, Freakshow and Dearest Eugenia Haggis with Clubbed Thumb, Milk... more
Denitsa Bliznakova: (Costume Designer) has upcoming productions at San Diego Opera and The Old Globe Theatre. Previous design work includes productions at San Jose Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, Falcon Theatre, A Noise Within, New Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, and others. Highlights include The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Old Globe; working with Garry Marshall on Happy Days, the Musical at Falcon Theatre; and Diva at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Design and stylist credits for other media include music videos for various artists and films. A Bulgarian born costume designer, her academic background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design at the Parsons School of Design in Paris and New York and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from Brandeis University. She is currently an associate professor at San Diego State University where she leads the MFA Costume Design program. less has upcoming productions at San Diego Opera and The Old Globe Theatre. Previous design work includes productions at San Jose Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, Falcon Theatre, A Noise Within, New Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, and others. Highlights include The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Old Globe; working with... more
Elissa Myers Casting, Paul Fouquet, CSA: (Casting) recently completed casting the PBS movie The Mystery of Matter, previously having cast seven Broadway shows, including Tony Award-nominated Having Our Say and 25 off-Broadway shows: additionally, three "Movies of the Week" (with Tyne Daly, Claire Danes, Christopher Reeve, Ed Asner and Daniel J. Travanti), five pilots and two PBS specials by Wendy Wasserstein and Terrance McNally (with Bernadette Peters, Nathan Lane, Blythe Danner, Spike Lee and Paul Sorvino), the Peabody Award-Winning mini-series Liberty as well as the Emmy Award-Winning mini-series Benjamin Franklin and John & Abigail Adams. Elissa Myers Casting, Paul Fouquet, CSA also cast mini-series Becoming Helen Keller, God in America, The People v. Leo Frank, Dolley Madison and Louisa May Alcott. Regional casting includes Cleveland Play House, The Denver Center, Geva Theatre Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, and Magic Theatre. The office has received 12 nominations and won three Artios Awards, Outstanding Achievement in Casting. less recently completed casting the PBS movie The Mystery of Matter, previously having cast seven Broadway shows, including Tony Award-nominated Having Our Say and 25 off-Broadway shows: additionally, three "Movies of the Week" (with Tyne Daly, Claire Danes, Christopher Reeve, Ed Asner and Daniel J. Travanti), five pilots and two PBS specials by Wendy Wasserstein... more
James C. Swonger: (Sound Designer) is resident sound designer at Cleveland Play House where he has designed sound for over 40 productions including Bell, Book and Candle; Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (world premiere); An Orchard (Case Western Reserve University/CPH MFA Acting Program); Bill W. and Dr. Bob; Heaven’s My Destination (world premiere); Crime and Punishment; Noises Off!; Gee’s Bend; The Chosen; and I Am My Own Wife. Additional credits include Cleveland’s Lyric Opera Company, The Utah Festival Opera Company, Pioneer Theatre Company, Baltimore CENTERSTAGE, George Street Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, Cleveland State University Summer Stages, and premiere productions of Ntozake Shange’s why i had to dance, The Tragic Demise of the Whaleship Essex, Swinging on a Star: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Burke, Tangents, and The Count of Monte Cristo. He has also designed sound systems for restaurants, theatres and churches. less is resident sound designer at Cleveland Play House where he has designed sound for over 40 productions including Bell, Book and Candle; Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (world premiere); An Orchard (Case Western Reserve University/CPH MFA Acting Program); Bill W. and Dr. Bob; Heaven’s My Destination (world premiere); Crime and... more
Japhy Weideman: (Lighting Designer) designed lighting for Cyrano de Bergerac and will soon design The Nance on Broadway. Other New York credits include 4000 Miles, Slow Girl, All-American, Stunning, and What Once We Felt at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Sons of the Prophet, Tigers Be Still, Roundabout Theatre Company; All New People, Warrior Class, The Talls, Second Stage; Wild With Happy, The Singing Forest, The Public/New York Shakespeare Festival; Jack Goes Boating (Drama Desk/Lucille Lortel nomination), Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Little Flower of East Orange, LAByrinth Theatre Company; and Frankenstein, Soho Rep (Drama Desk nomination). Regional Theatre includes A.C.T. San Francisco, Berkeley Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Houston Grand Opera, Huntington Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Magic Theatre, The Old Globe, Santa Fe Opera, The Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, Westport, and Williamstown. International credits include West End, Royal Shakespeare Company, La Scala, Nederlandse Opera, Edinburgh Festival, Epidaurus Greece, and the National Theater of Korea less designed lighting for Cyrano de Bergerac and will soon design The Nance on Broadway. Other New York credits include 4000 Miles, Slow Girl, All-American, Stunning, and What Once We Felt at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Sons of the Prophet, Tigers Be Still, Roundabout Theatre Company; All New People,... more
John Godbout: (Stage Manager) recently stage managed Bell, Book and Candle; The Whipping Man; Lombardi; Every Good Boy Deserves Favor; Red; Ten Chimneys; Daddy Long Legs; and The Life of Galileo for Cleveland Play House, where he returned in fall of 2011 after having been CPH’s resident stage manager from 2000 to 2008. This past summer, he served as production stage manager for his second season at North Shore Music Theatre, where he stage managed All Shook Up, Annie, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, and Disney's Tarzan. Other credits include Capital Repertory Theatre, The Weston Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Northern Stage, and Seaside Music Theatre. less recently stage managed Bell, Book and Candle; The Whipping Man; Lombardi; Every Good Boy Deserves Favor; Red; Ten Chimneys; Daddy Long Legs; and The Life of Galileo for Cleveland Play House, where he returned in fall of 2011 after having been CPH’s resident stage manager from 2000 to 2008. This... more
Matthew Lopez: (Playwright) has seen his play The Whipping Man – since its New York premiere last year in a sold-out, extended run at Manhattan Theatre Club – become one of the most widely produced new American plays. The MTC production, directed by Doug Hughes and starring Andre Braugher, earned Lopez the John Gassner Playwriting Award from Outer Critics Circle. Before arriving in New York, The Whipping Man premiered at Luna Stage in Montclair, New Jersey, and was subsequently produced at Penumbra Theatre Company, Barrington Stage and The Old Globe. His play Somewhere premiered last year at The Old Globe under the direction of Giovanna Sardelli and will be re-mounted in January 2013 at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Other works include Reverberation, The Legend of Georgia McBride and The Sentinels, which premiered last year in London. Lopez was recently named the 2012/13 Aetna Playwriting Fellow at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. He is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, a past member of the Ars Nova Play Group, and a recent artist-in-residence at The Old Globe. Lopez is also a staff writer on the HBO series The Newsroom. less has seen his play The Whipping Man – since its New York premiere last year in a sold-out, extended run at Manhattan Theatre Club – become one of the most widely produced new American plays. The MTC production, directed by Doug Hughes and starring Andre Braugher, earned Lopez... more
Robert Mark Morgan: (Scenic Designer) designed The Glass Menagerie, Emma, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob for Cleveland Play House. Current projects include being exhibit designer for Avatar the Exhibition, Experience Music Project in Seattle; Fallen Angels, Asolo Repertory Theatre; Joshua's Boots, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Amarillo Opera; A Steady Rain, The Repertory Theatre of St Louis; and Titus Andronicus, Mary Stuart, and Merry Wives of Windsor for the 2012 Utah Shakespeare Festival. His many other credits include The Rainmaker, A Moon for the Misbegotten (2007 Prague Design Quadrennial), and The Dazzle, A.C.T. San Francisco; Diary of Anne Frank, Jesus Hates Me and House of the Spirits, The Denver Center Theatre Company; Saint Joan, Jekyll & Hyde, Ordinary Nation, Rabbit Hole and Fall of Heaven, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; and The Subject Tonight is Love, Alliance Theatre Company. He also designed Just Stopped by to See the Man and The Whipping Man at The Old Globe. less designed The Glass Menagerie, Emma, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob for Cleveland Play House. Current projects include being exhibit designer for Avatar the Exhibition, Experience Music Project in Seattle; Fallen Angels, Asolo Repertory Theatre; Joshua's Boots, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Amarillo Opera; A Steady Rain, The Repertory... more
October 23 @ 5:00pm - 6:30pm
InsideCPH- Rehearsal Hall Observation
October 28 @ 2:30pm - 4:30pm
InsideCPH - "Setting the Stage-The Whipping Man"
October 30 @ 7:00pm - 8:30pm
InsideCPH- Tech Rehearsal Observation
November 02 - November 25
Pre-show Conversations-45min. Before Every Performance
November 11 @ 4:30pm - 5:30pm
November 13 @ 9:00pm - 10:00pm
November 17 @ 4:30pm - 5:00pm
The Whipping Man: Community Conversation
November 18 @ 4:30pm - 5:30pm
November 24 @ 4:30pm - 5:00pm
The Whipping Man: Community Conversation
November 25 @ 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Common Threads: The Whipping Man & The Devil's Music: Taken alone, each play in CPH's season is entertaining and vital, but fascinating connections emerge when you examine them together.Bessie Smith, protagonist of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, was born into poverty in 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Given the fact that her father was of an age to have his occupation recorded in the 1870 census ("minister of the gospel"), her parents were almost certainly former slaves - perhaps not much older than The Whipping Man's John.Those who saw our One Night With Janis Joplin this summer will know that Smith was also one of Joplin's greatest influences. In 1970, Joplin even purchased a headstone for Smith's unmarked grave.The Devil's MusicFebruary 15 - March 10Allen TheatreLearn more! less Taken alone, each play in CPH's season is entertaining and vital, but fascinating connections emerge when you examine them together.Bessie Smith, protagonist of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, was born into poverty in 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Given the fact that her father... more
KeyBank CPH College: The Whipping Man: KeyBank Cleveland Play House College had its second session on November 10, 2012. We were overjoyed to have high school students from all over Northeast Ohio partake in our open forum of theatrical proceedings. In these morning workshops here at CPH they have become a commonwealth of unimaginable gratification. Instantly, our students were tossed onto the battlefield. Russell G. Jones who portrays, Simon in the Cleveland Play House production of The Whipping Man, dropped in for a master class with our students. He directed us in the art of relaxation and readiness. He asked students to realize the natural movements and positions of their bodies. Mr. Jones instructed our students to release the stress and tension that we carry in our bodies. Students acknowledged the toxic energy flowing through their bodies, and using a form of meditation, allowed this energy to naturally race out of their bodies into the ground. He advised our students to have a motion or gesture to remind them of this moment of total relaxation, noting that actors use this technique to prepare them for a very emotional character. For readiness, he split them into two groups. Mr. Jones invited one volunteer from each group to place the palm of their hand in front of the group. The other students were advised to focus on the movement of the palm by copying these actions into their bodies. He let our students know that actors need to be prepared to react to many different situations that may arise during a performance. In the second portion of our workshop, teaching artists Nina Domingue and Dr. Ellen Rooney introduced the technique of taking a form of non-fiction literature and turning it into a performance piece. Students were prompt to think about the different elements of a performance piece, for example, staging, lighting and sound, and costuming. Our teaching artists mentioned to them that they would experience this scene during their viewing of The Whipping Man. After this session, the students were provided with lunch, and were given tickets to attend the performance. This whole day was free of charge for all our students. We are still taking applicants for the KeyBank Cleveland Play House College. Please contact us for more information on how to enroll your students. Call 216.400.7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Current Students: we are offering you another chance to see The Whipping Man. You can see it free on Saturday, December 1 at 2:30pm. If you are interested please call Mark Swinerton at 216.400.7063 or email at email@example.com. Also, please confirm your attendance for KeyBank Cleveland Play House College session three on Saturday, December 8. Also, be part of our Facebook group at KeyBank CPH College 2012-2013. less KeyBank Cleveland Play House College had its second session on November 10, 2012. We were overjoyed to have high school students from all over Northeast Ohio partake in our open forum of theatrical proceedings. In these morning workshops here at CPH they have become a commonwealth of unimaginable gratification. ... more
The Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and African Americans: Scholars and the interested public have long debated Lincoln’s views on slavery and how they influenced his policies as president. How committed was he to abolition? What was he prepared to do? Could he imagine a world in which white and black people lived together in peace and freedom? For many slaves, at least at first, the answer was clear: Lincoln’s election meant emancipation. The enormous excitement and anticipation of the 1860 presidential election campaign spread into unexpected corners of the United States. After Americans learned of Abraham Lincoln’s victory, reports circulated across the Southern states of political attentiveness and restlessness among the slaves. On one Virginia plantation, a group of slaves celebrated Lincoln’s inauguration by proclaiming their freedom and marching off their owner’s estate. In Alabama, some slaves had come to believe that “Lincoln is soon going to free them all,” and had begun “making preparations to aid him when he makes his appearance,” according to local whites. A runaway slave in Louisiana told his captors in late May 1861 that “the North was fighting for the Negroes now and that he was as free as his master.”The slaves, of course, had no civil or political standing in American society on the eve of the Civil War; they were chattel property subject to the power and domination of their owners, and effectively “outside” formal politics. But they were unwilling to accept their assignment to political oblivion. Thus the case of Harry Jarvis: Born a slave on the eastern shore of Virginia, Jarvis took to the woods for several weeks after the Civil War began, where he survived owing to fellow slaves who brought him news and food. Then, seizing an opportunity, Jarvis headed to Fort Monroe, 35 miles away, where Union troops were stationed, and asked commanding General Benjamin Butler “to let me enlist.” Although Butler rebuffed Jarvis and told him “it wasn’t a black man’s war,” Jarvis stood his political ground: “I told him it would be a black man’s war before they got through.” By the early fall of 1862, Lincoln had decided to issue an Emancipation Proclamation and enroll African Americans in the Union Army and Navy. Bold initiatives these were, revolutionary in effect, and wholly unimagined when the war began: except by the slaves whose actions helped bring them about. Lincoln’s political sensibilities had finally caught up to theirs. Edited from “What Lincoln Meant to the Slaves.” Steven Hahn. New York Times, February 12, 2011 less Scholars and the interested public have long debated Lincoln’s views on slavery and how they influenced his policies as president. How committed was he to abolition? What was he prepared to do? Could he imagine a world in which white and black people lived together in peace and freedom? For... more
Freedom, Friendship and Faith: The Whipping Man’s surprising connections between Judaism, slavery and the Confederate South When playwright Matthew Lopez was growing up, his parents were Civil War re-enactors. “They started doing that when I was a teenager, which I thought at the time was incredibly embarrassing,” he says, laughing. But he came around. “[Reenactors] are really quite sincere and quite dedicated to recreating history as it was. I kind of got sucked into it by that. …I saw the drama and the theater behind it.” Flash forward to 2010 and Lopez’s teenage embarrassment had yielded a source of pride: his play The Whipping Man was a hit at the Manhattan Theatre Club. But what led Lopez— who is neither black nor Jewish, but rather an Episcopalian of Puerto Rican descent from the Florida panhandle—to write a play about Southern Jews and slavery at the end of the Civil War? And what’s more, how much of the surprising circumstance in the play is factual? Initially, Lopez’s interest was purely historical. “I’ve always been fascinated by those moments that the history books skip over: the valleys between the peaks of historical events,” he says. “I was drawn to the Civil War because it provided two calamities in one event: war and slavery. So, I wanted to explore that notion of the quiet after the storm, when the real work actually starts being done.” Then came what the playwright calls “a happy accident”: he discovered that Passover began the day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox in 1865. Lopez realized that, “While American Jews were celebrating this ancient observance of the Exodus from Egypt, a new kind of exodus was happening around them. … And I thought, ‘Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, are you kidding me? And no one has written this? Well, I’ll be the first!’” This discovery led Lopez down a rarely-traveled road to the paradox of Jewish Confederate slave owners. At the time of the Civil War, Jews had been “breath[ing] the free air of Dixie”—as Confederate army captain Samuel Yates Levy wrote from a Union prison cell—for nearly two centuries. In the North, the first known Jew to attempt to settle in Boston was “warned out” in the 1640s (a practice which continued through colonial times), and as late as 1864 The New York Times accused the Democratic Party chairman of being “the agent of foreign jew bankers.” But below the Mason-Dixon line, the Jewish population was a part of the fabric of Southern life; racial solidarity trumped religious difference in the South. Wrote traveling journalist I.J. Benjamin in 1859, “[Southern Jews] felt themselves united with, and closer to, other whites. … Since the Israelite there did not do the humbler kinds of work which the negro did, he was quickly received among the upper classes and easily rose to high political rank.” Case in point, one of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ first appointees was Judah Philip Benjamin, a well-known Jewish lawyer from Louisiana, as the first Attorney General of the Confederacy. (Benjamin also owned a sugar plantation with 150 slaves.) Eight months later, in the fall of 1861, Benjamin became the Confederate Secretary of War, and in 1862 was appointed Secretary of State. As a result of his rapid advancement and Davis’ reliance on his advice, Benjamin has been referred to as the “Brains of the Confederacy.” (Not that there was no anti-Semitism in the South. One Emma Holmes of Charleston wrote that she disliked “Sumter [S.C.] very much from the prevalence of sand and Jews…”) Mainstream acceptance of Judaism in the South notwithstanding, it is still hard to believe that Southern Jews would not see the irony in being slave-owners. “It illustrated for me how pernicious and unavoidable slavery was: that Jews, with their own history of enslavement, could own slaves themselves,” says Lopez. “[They] made up a much smaller population of slave-owners than their Christian neighbors, but American Jews in the South were not immune to the pull of slavery.” Most of the Southern Jewish population were poor or working class immigrants from Germany or Eastern Europe, but “those who could afford to do so owned slaves; that was the Southern way,” says Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history and consultant on the Broadway production of The Whipping Man. “As a boy brought up in the South I never questioned the rights or wrongs of slavery,” said Oscar Straus, Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of Commerce and Labor. “Its existence I regarded as a matter of course, as most other customs or institutions.” Perhaps as startling as Jewish slave ownership is the realization that the roots of the Civil War are grounded in an argument heard daily in contemporary politics: states’ rights. In his memoirs, Moses Ezekiel—a Richmond native and decorated Jewish Confederate who became an internationally renowned sculptor—wrote in his memoir: “We were thoroughly imbued with the idea that we were not fighting for the perpetuation of slavery, but for the principles of states’ rights and free trade, and for the defense of our homes which were being ruthlessly invaded.” A sense of duty and honor, prevalent in all Victorian culture and particularly in the American South, was also a motivator, even for women left at home. Said Catherine Ezekiel, Moses’ mother, “[I] would not own a son who would not fight for his home and country.” The North-South divide was deepened for Jewish Southerners by Evangelical Christian abolitionists in the North who, despite their zeal for emancipation, found no hypocrisy in the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes. William Lloyd Garrison, noted publisher of the abolitionist weekly The Liberator, once publicly described a political foe as a “miscreant Jew,” a “Shylock” and a descendant of “the monsters who nailed Jesus to the cross.” There were even Rabbis whose views supported a pro-slavery stance. Perhaps most prominent among them was Rabbi Morris J. Raphall, ironically a Northerner. His 1861 pamphlet “The Bible View of Slavery” delved into the Hebrew Bible – citing Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Job and even Exodus – before concluding that “slaveholding is not only recognized and sanctioned as an integral part of the social structure … [but] the property in slaves is placed under the same protection as any other species of lawful property.” According to the Rabbi, the descendants of Noah’s son Ham—Africans—had been cursed by God, and therefore “in his own native home, and generally throughout the world, the unfortunate negro is indeed the meanest of slaves.” Just as there were pro-slavery voices among Northern Jews, so were there anti-slavery voices in the slave-holding states. Rabbi David Einhorn of Baltimore denounced Raphall’s views as “a deplorable farce.” “Does the Negro have less ability to think, to feel, to will?” he asked. “Was he born not to be entitled to all these? … Slavery is immoral and must be abolished.” Among the complex motivations for secession and the War was the fact that Southerners were literally fighting for their way of life, and Jews—both plantation-owners and city-dwellers like those in The Whipping Man— relied on slave labor every bit as much as anyone else. Many Jews essentially followed in the steps of their neighbors and friends when it came to taking a stance on slavery. While it was common for ethnic minorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line to enlist and form their own units, this was generally not the case with Jewish soldiers; most served right alongside their Christian countrymen. Of the estimated 150,000 Jews in the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, it is estimated that 3,000 fought for the Confederacy (6,700 for the Union). Richmond, Virginia, where The Whipping Man takes place, is home to the Jewish Confederate Soldiers Cemetery—one of only two Jewish military cemeteries outside of Israel. So what are we to make of the questions about freedom, friendship and faith raised by Lopez’s play? When asked this question, Lynda A. Bender, Executive Director of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, said, “It is surprising to many that Jews would have owned slaves, but it is also difficult to reconcile traditional American values of freedom and equality with the slave trade in any way—as we know, Jefferson and other leaders of the American revolution owned slaves. Thought-provoking drama like The Whipping Man asks us to reconsider this conundrum and reflect upon how the past influences the present.” And perhaps, in fact, this is the play’s greatest feat: it insists we keep on reflecting. In the words of one of Lopez’s characters: “… you asked your questions and sometimes you didn’t get answers that you liked. But you kept on asking. That’s what a Jew is. We talk with God, we wrestle with Him. Sometimes we even argue with Him. But we never stop asking, looking, hoping for answers.” SOURCES Goodheart, Adam. “The Rabbi and the Rebellion.” The New York Times Opinionator blog. 7 Mar., 2011.Lee, Felicia R. “Writing the Play His Curiosity Led Him To.” The New York Times. 27 Jan., 2011 Lopez, Matthew. Interview with Stephanie Lein Walseth. Penumbra Theatre Company Study Guide, The Whipping Man. (2009) Murray, Larry. “Interview: Matthew Lopez explains his new play ‘The Whipping Man.’” www.berkshireonstage.com. 11 May, 2010. Rosen, Robert N. “Jewish Confederates.” Jews and the Civil War. Ed. Jonathan D. Sarna and Adam Mendelsohn. New York City: NYU Press. 2010Szymkowicz, Adam. “I Interview Playwrights Part 185: Matthew Lopez.” aszym.blogspot.com. 2 Jun., 2010 Winnerman, Jim. “Jews and the Civil War.” Jewish Light. 24 Jan., 2012. less The Whipping Man’s surprising connections between Judaism, slavery and the Confederate South When playwright Matthew Lopez was growing up, his parents were Civil War re-enactors. “They started doing that when I was a teenager, which I thought at the time was incredibly embarrassing,” he says, laughing. But he... more
InsideCPH: Last season Cleveland Play House learned that our audiences and community are excited not only by the work on our stages, but by learning about how it gets there, too. This realization was the genesis of what’s become our new InsideCPH series. Our monthly InsideCPH events let you sit in on rehearsals, join exciting shop tours and designer demos, connect with CPH leaders and staff, and much more—all open to the public, and ALL FOR FREE! Already this season we’ve had four InsideCPH events. Bob Ari, star of Lombardi, led a group of over 40 people of all ages in a session titled “The Art and Craft of Acting with Bob Ari.” Attendees got hands-on experience in tools and techniques actors use to do their job, with an emphasis on the importance of ensemble. (check out some pictures on Facebook!)And last Sunday, 52 people braved the elements and came out for “The Whipping Man: Setting the Stage with Robert Mark Morgan.” We first had a conversation with Morgan, the show’s scenic designer, about the steps of his design process from the day he gets the job on through opening night. We then went into the Second Stage theatre to observe The Whipping Man cast’s first rehearsal on the set we’d just learned about, followed by a Q&A. (See photos below)The feedback from Sunday’s event has been terrific, too: “This program is the best incentive to open the joy of CPH to all ages”; “This event went beyond our expectations. Thank you!”; and “It was a great program and a learning process for everyone there. It was interesting watching the director change positions to make sure the stage is set for all to see and I loved hearing Robert's enthusiastic journey in creating the set design.” In fact, The Whipping Man has generated so much interest that we added two special events: a chance to attend the first rehearsal read-through and design presentations, and a chance to observe the cast and director at work in the rehearsal hall. If you missed these events, we still have many InsideCPH opportunities left this season (see below). All are open to the public, but you must RSVP to InsideCPH@clevelandplayhouse.com. Write us at that address if you have questions, as well. We’ll look forward to seeing you Inside CPH! -Corey Atkins UPCOMING INSIDE CPH EVENTSA CAROL FOR CLEVELAND “Adapting Cleveland” How does a 32 page novella like A Carol for Cleveland become a full-length play? Find out with this insightful discussion about writing and adaptation, with author Les Roberts and playwright Eric Coble. Saturday November 17th –11:00am-12:30pm BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE “Conjuring Costumes” They say that the clothes make the man (or woman!)—but how does a costume designer make the clothes? Explore all the aspects that a costume designer must consider when clothing character for the stage, with special guest designer presentation. The program will feature an exclusive tour of tour the CPH Costume Shop, as well. SAT 1/19—11:00am-12:30pm THE DEVIL’S MUSIC “Selling a Song”—In life you can sing a song, but on stage you have to sell it! Join guest artists and cast member from The Devil’s Music to find out how it’s done. MON 2/25—6:30-8:00pm GOOD PEOPLE “On Directing”—CPH Artistic Director Michael Bloom wrote the book on directing—literally. His Thinking Like a Director is one of the most popular directing resources available! Discover what it means to think like a director, then experience a special performance of our original Classroom Matinee touring production, Mike & Margie. Date TBD (SAT 3/23 or 3/30—4:00-6:00) *RICH GIRL/NEW GROUND THEATE FESTIVAL “How to Build a Play” Ever notice that “playwright” is spelled -ight not -ite? Just like a shipwright and other such artisans, playwrights skillfully build their work from scratch. Find out how to build a play—and what it takes to get it produced—in this exciting forum with Rich Girl playwright Victoria Stewart, and our 2012 Roe Green Award winner. Monday, 4/22—6:30-8:00pm less Last season Cleveland Play House learned that our audiences and community are excited not only by the work on our stages, but by learning about how it gets there, too. This realization was the genesis of what’s become our new InsideCPH series. Our monthly InsideCPH events let you sit in... more
Why is This Play Different from All Other Plays?: Passover, or פסח (Pesach) in Hebrew, is an eight day Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews being freed from years of slavery in Egypt. In 1865, Passover began a day after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The Whipping Man cleverly juxtaposes Passover with the new-found freedom of African American slaves, and derives its central conflict from this paradox. And at the center of it all is a one-of-a-kind Seder. Passover is one of the most important, and most widely-observed, Jewish holidays; according to the 2000-01 National Jewish Population Survey, only 46% of American Jews belong to a synagogue, but 67% routinely hold or attend a Pesach Seder. Held during the first two nights of Passover, the Seder brings families and friends together around a table to say prayers, tell the story of Passover, and eat a festive meal. An important part of the Passover table is the Seder Plate, which holds different food items, each of which symbolizes various aspects of Passover. For example, maror, or bitter herb (often raw horseradish, or romaine lettuce) symbolizes the bitterness of slavery. It is dipped in charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine or grape juice, that represents the mortar that the Jews used on bricks to build the pyramids and other buildings in Egypt. Another important part of Passover, which is seen in the play, is the Ma Nish Tana, or ‘The Four Questions.’ This prayer, said by the youngest person at the Seder, poses the overarching question “why is this night different from all other nights?” – a question which audiences leaving The Whipping Man will surely be pondering, as well. less Passover, or פסח (Pesach) in Hebrew, is an eight day Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews being freed from years of slavery in Egypt. In 1865, Passover began a day after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The Whipping Man cleverly juxtaposes Passover with the new-found freedom of... more
InsideCPH: Robert Mark Morgan on Scenic Design: How would you describe what you do? I make ideas visual. A good set supports the action on stage. It becomes almost one more character; it fleshes out the world. So how do you do that? As a designer, you have to come up with a visual language. My process is very visual. [For The Whipping Man] I compartmentalized research into two broad groups: realistic research from the period, and abstract research—which I define as an image that may have nothing to do with Richmond in 1865, but that feels like the play. That’s what I go for when researching: finding that visual language that feels like the show and having it serve as an inspiration for the design. Coming up with a bunch of research to share with the director is important because then we can look through it together and respond to what we see. Then the director can say “Oh, I really like that image” and we start talking about not just a world, but the feeling of that world. In this particular design, the director and I really loved the texture and quality of the rubble that was left over after Richmond [where the play is set] was destroyed — fireplaces that had just enough mantel left to hold a candle and sweeping staircases leading to nowhere. All of this research can be very evocative and spoke to us as the feel of the play. We end up with some choice images that resonate for us both and we get closer to a visual language for the piece. What comes after research? And what makes a good collaboration as you continue? After research I do a number of sketches. You can adapt quickly if things are in sketch form in the early stages. I often think of myself as a consultant to the director. I want the director to feel that things are malleable and that visual ideas are changeable. I like to be an equal and a visual voice in the whole process as we go along. I like collaborators and directors who understand that we’re all a creative team working together to make this whole thing happen. After the sketches I create a model, and then generate plates of drawings that are architectural in nature—blueprints basically. These are meant to inform the carpenters, the technical director, and the painters, what the vision is so they can execute it. How long does the whole process usually take? Generally for me, from start to finish, a design takes about six to nine months. In many of your previous designs you’ve played a lot with light and shadow. Will we see that here? I’m fascinated with silhouettes and with shifting light that creates a different look to the space. This is a great play for that. I want to create a space that has surfaces for light to play off of. A strong backlight through the upstage wall, which is going to be fabulously textured, or light reflecting off of little shards of glass left over in the windows; that kind of thing is what we’re going for. To end things on a high note…tell us about your plans for the on-stage amputation! I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you one thing: we don’t actually cut his leg off. What is wonderful about this play is Matthew’s words and the vivid language. The description of the amputation and the cleaning up of the blood afterwards… So…we’ll have to come see the play for the final answer? Yes. less How would you describe what you do? I make ideas visual. A good set supports the action on stage. It becomes almost one more character; it fleshes out the world. So how do you do that? As a designer, you have to come up with a... more
Play Guide - The Whipping Man: To view the Play Guide, click on the related file link below! Every now and then a play comes along that makes us completely re-examine what we think we know about our country, and ourselves. Matthew Lopez’s remarkable play The Whipping Man is just such a play, revealing an unexpected and thought-provoking conversation between the experience of Southern slaves and Southern Jews in the Confederate South. Set at the end of the Civil War, The Whipping Man explores what happens when two former slaves decide to care for their injured former master in a surprising story about freedom, friendship and faith. We’re also pleased to be working with wonderful community partners on this production, including the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, The Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and the Cleveland State University Black Studies Program. This Play Guide features striking insight into the story of American Jews, with their own history of enslavement, and African-American slavery; it examines the relationship between Lincoln and the slaves; and, in our recurring InsideCPH feature, we talk with the play’s set designer, Robert Mark Morgan, to understand how research and collaboration turn a playwright’s words into a fully-realized world on stage. As Northeast Ohio’s premiere professional contemporary theatre, we believe that it’s not only the quality of the work on our stages which makes us great, but the opportunities and insight we offer our audiences, too. We hope these Play Guides enrich your experience of CPH’s work, and that you’ll share them as your excitement about our 2nd season in the new Allen Theatre complex grows! To view the Play Guide, click on the related file link below! less To view the Play Guide, click on the related file link below! Every now and then a play comes along that makes us completely re-examine what we think we know about our country, and ourselves. Matthew Lopez’s remarkable play The Whipping Man is just such a play, revealing... more
The Whipping Man
November 2 - December 2, Second Stage - Thrust Configuration
written by Matthew Lopez
directed by Giovanna Sardelli
Act 1: approx. 70 minutes
Intermission: 15 minutes
Act 2: approx. 35 minutes
Total: approx. 2 hours
Excellent acting--very powerful and moving script---one of the best plays I have seen in a more long time...Congratulations
An emotionally potent atmospheric drama
Excellent performance! Enjoyed it immensly. Loved the Second Stage Thrust Configuration. Made you feel more as if you were part of the performance.
An incredibly powerful performance. I am amazed at the talent of the actors playing the more roles, the set, the sound effects, the actual rain, the costumes, the story line â€" just the whole thing.
Beautifully written and compellingly acted--this play will become a classic
My daughter and I went to see it on a Saturday afternoon. It was a more very powerful and thought provoking performance. I loved the speech about the importance of teaching our children so that none of us ever forget the atrocities humans are capable of committing.
One of the best plays I've seen in a long time.
The acting was superb and the story rivoting!!!
This was by far one of the most compelling plays I have ever seen. more I highly recommend this play.
Good play, done very well ,have recommended it to friends
It was such a powerful performance by all. I was on the edge of my more seat, and moved to tears.
Moving, thought-provoking and exceptionally well presented.
Having attended the last show, we witnessed three mesmerizing performances! "The Whipping Man" needs more to be seen and hopefully will be brought back to the Cleveland area.
Worth every penny! The first act was so enthralling I thought it ended early because more
it didn't feel like 70 minutes. The second act was even better. I have been recommending the show to everyone!
The Whipping Man was poignantly intense, heartbreaking and renewing. The acting, lighting and set more design were exceptional. A must see.
very very good period piece---- thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the show
It was very good and lets you think about aspects of the Civil War that more you would not ordinarily think of. The playback after the play brought out a lot of discussion.
The actors' delivery made the production. Very glad to have seen the CPH production more of "The Whipping Man."
I cannot tell you how moved I was. What an incredible play--so well constructed more
I was surprised that I never gave any thought to Jews being in the South and slave owners--and the religion the slaves would follow. I will be thinking about it for a long time. It was particularly poinant to realize two were actually brothers. Thank you so much. I would love to hear more from this playwrite.
Another great production. Excellent acting.
Both my husband and I are glad that we saw this play. It was more certainly a gripping story. We really liked Russell Jones and his portrayal of Simon. We'd like to see more of him.
I could see this play at least 3 more times and each time see something more different. So many levels of truth that applied to their time and ours today. Powerful.
One of the best dramas I have seen in many years. Emotional, moving and more the acting was superb! This play brings home the real meaning of freedom.
I have lived in Cleveland all my life and have I just have to say more
that The Whipping Man is by far the best play I have seen in my 62 years. Best words to describe this play are all R's: remarkable, raw and riveting.
Wonderful production with outstanding acting. I was rivited to the play in its entirety.
WOW! I saw the play last week and what a fantastic performance. The more acting is incredible. The 70 minutes of the first half of the play flew by in what seemed to be minutes. I really could have sat there longer where as some plays you just can't wait for intermission. Great job again. I can see this play being made into a movie.
powerfully explores emancipation's strains through impressive acting and stagecraft
This is an amazing play - complex characters, suspenseful plot, and powerful acting. The more darkness and persistent rain added a melancholy atmosphere appropriate to the story, as dark secrets and various types of suffering played out.
I truly enjoyed the production. The theater configuration is intimate and the set design and more special effects were very captivating. The actors were very skilled and the story compelling. Overall I would recommend this performance to any and all.
The combination of an outstanding script, tremendous acting in an intimate theatre led to one more of the best theatre experiences my wife and I have had in Cleveland in the last 12 years.
A very powerful play with a wonderful cast. We found it very thought provoking and more
intense and would recommend it to all.
The play was magnificant. These men were made to perform together. Wish I more had the opportunity to see it again!
An excellant play and excellant actors. It was well written and kept our interest going more all the time.
Intense, emotional, engaging, and beautifully interpreted by the actors. Cleveland Play House brings us more
incredible pieces as well as talented casts and crews. Well done!
Incredible performance by actors! Incredible set design! This was a beautiful story that challenges the more mind to look beyond race to accountability, faith, and manhood. It should be mandatory that all junior high and high school students see this play.
Spectacular! Brilliant writing, brilliant acting.
This was a superb play and performance. It was the best play that we more
have seen at the play house for a long time.
Wishing much success to the Cleveland Play House.
This was a very moving play with truly excellent performances by the three actors. more I believe this play will stay with me for a very long time.
Excellent - intense stage play, that I feel illustrates a period of history fairly more
- holds your attention to the very end.
A must see performance!
All three roles were powerful and superbly performed. The story was both touching and more sad. We wish we would have seen it earlier in the run so we could get more of our friends and family into to see it.
Powerful, engaging and profound.
Run, don't walk to see this important more play!
this was one of the best plays that i have ever seen, the actors more
were superb,and gave a brilliant performance.
i would say that this a "must see" to anyone who enjoys good dramatic theatre...very, very well done.
It was a moving and powerful play, extremely well-staged and acted. Seeing it at more the end of the presidential campaign brought home the painful truth that our nation continues to wrestle with these issues.
One of the best plays I have ever seen! The acting is superb. more I recommend attending the Pre-show conversation. Attending it gave the play more meaning.
This is a well-written and wonderfully acted play!! The story is revealed in well-paced more layers that keep the audience engaged through the final scene. The set design was intriguing--lighting, rain, thunder! I highly recommend "The Whipping Man."
Fantastic story and the actors were all A-1!!!! I loved the more personal theater, too. more I highly recommend this performance!
Absolutely amazing. Well-acted drama that leaves the viewer stunned at the end of it all, more wanting to see it all over again.
Top-notch production of a top-notch play. Interestingly, this play's performance in Cleveland coincides with more the recent release of the movie LINCOLN...both serving to remind us of this dark saga of American history. Thank you for presenting it.
"The Whipping Man" is a powerful story filled with insight and more many issues to think about. The acting was extraordinary. The tensions and bitterness of the Civil War era really came to life. My husband and I talked about the play for a long time after we left the theater.
We thoroughly enjoyed Whipping Man. A very fine play with powerful, well acted, more characters. Highly recommend.
This is a very powerful play, superbly acted. I feel privileged to have seen more it. The Reading Club discussion enhanced my appreciation of the set and the director.
The Whipping Man is a phenomenal play with three amazing actors. I saw it more last night for the second time!!! Had to share with my family. Thank you to CPH, the actors, the director, the set designer, the costume designer and everyone else involved!
The performance by each of the artists was excellent, and the play was extremely well more coordinated. The language seemed to be consistent with the presumed language used during American Civil War times, and the concept of the entire play seemed extraordinarily authentic to a chaotic life in the 19th century.
My wife Phyllis and I saw The Whipping Man in Washington, DC this past Spring. more It was outstanding and we were truly excited to learn that it will now be in Cleveland. It's an exceptional play and we can certainly recommend it to Cleveland audiences without hesitation.
Thought this was an amazing, creative play. The writing and acting were excellent!
My wife and I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the Whipping Man on Saturday, November 24th. more The entire experience, from the pre-play presentation to the acting, the set design, and the intimacy of the production was excellent. The angle of Jewish Slaveowners is one that we had never considered. It was fascinating. We are particularly impressed with your efforts to make the experience more than just a trip to the theatre for a show, but rather a time of connection, information, and engamement. We would highly recommend this production to everyone looking for a great experience and learning opportunity.
Very powerful production. A "must-see!"
Extraordinary story and performances -- so glad I saw it!
Excellent, superb, one of the BEST SHOWS we have ever attended. Thank you.
One of the best plays we've seen in a long time and a superb production more by the Play House. The three actors are superb and the set, sound effects and lighting add to the experience. This is a play that will take you out of yourself and remind you how difficult life has always been for some people. It's a heartbreaker.
The play, the acting, the direction etc. were absolutely remarkably brilliant. One of the more best plays I have seen in years.
Whipping Man was one of the best plays I have seen at the play house. more I have been a member of the play house for 35 years and plan to keep going to the play house. Congradulation Mr. Bloom! you are doing a great job.
I saw the Whipping Man just the other day and it was MORE than I more expected. ALL the actors were amazing, and the prop set up was so realisitic. The stage set up at 2nd stage made the play even more wonderful. No matter where you seat I feel that you have a wonderful view of every detail! Way to go playhouse, another great show!
I saw The Whipping Man last weekend and thought it was an amazing play with more awesome talent! I am recommending it to all my friends and family.
Gripping and extraordinary! Kudos to all the actors, director, sound and stage crew, but more most of all to the venue.
Stunning. Still thinking about it the day after. Friend saw it two weeks ago and more
still haunted. Beautifully acted.
This was a great play that shouldn't be missed! The common core of the more Passover theme about the Jewish slaves versus the black slaves of post civil war time makes one truly think about the irony that presents itself.
After a turkey dinner with red wine I would usually be asleep by 9 PM. more But not last night. WM was forceful and engaging. Well written and well edited. Not a wasted word or gesture. Loved it!
People go to plays for many different reasons--I like to be entertained. This play more was educational and it was very well done, but falls far short of my definition of entertaining. Please consider this when working on future selections.
I found the story & the acting to be engaging... but numerous times the quietness more of the voices were hard to hear the important message which the actor was trying to convey.
One of the best productions at the Play House in years. Three equally strong more cast members kept the audience spellbound. The haunting set enhanced the emotional dynamic. The director's vision was critical in bringing the story to life. I would be fascinated to know the genesis of the story and what sparked the author's concept. Bravo and thank you for a great night at the theater.
The best play I've seen at the playhouse in a long time.
Excellent acting--very powerful and moving script---one of the best plays I have seen in...