"The Whipping Man" at the Old Globe Theater

Monday, May 24, 2010

USD History Department lecturer David Miller, PhD, and students from his Civil War and Reconstruction in Popular Culture course ended the semester May 11 with a trip to the theater to see "The Whipping Man," Matthew Lopez's play examining the tumultuous days following the end of the American Civil War. The performance at the Old Globe Theater marks the West Coast premiere of "The Whipping Man" and is a unique opportunity to bring the history of slavery and the Civil War to the San Diego public.

“I am happy to be a part of a project that takes history out of the classroom and reaches a wider audience,” Miller said. He contributed an essay to the official playbill and will be participating in a series of pre-show public talks. He is also working with the Globe’s Education Department to deliver lectures for private groups planning to attend the show.

Ask any Civil War buff and they will tell you the war ended April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. Lesser known is the struggle to define the consequences of emancipation after the war, according to Miller. He writes, "Lopez’s play reminds us that once the Civil War ended, the story of American slavery did not. The play is an important component shaping contemporary memories of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction by bringing modern scholarship to the public. It places the freed slaves front and center in the national drama of Reconstruction and reminds audiences that former slaves had as many demands as they did trepidations and challenges."

Last Tuesday night Miller’s students joined with other play-goers to attend a pre-show panel discussion. The panel included Miller, Rabbi Ralph Dalin, a lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at USD, and the playwright Matthew Lopez. Jack DePalma, play development director at the Old Globe, moderated the event.

The play runs at the Old Globe Theater through June 13. There are two remaining pre-show discussions planned. Those dates are:

Sunday, May 30 – Pre-show presentation at 1 p.m. 
Sunday, June 6 – Pre-show presentation at 1 p.m.

Panel participants: Jack de Palma, Matthew Lopez, Rabbi Ralph Dalin, and David Miller

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