The Milwaukee Post

April 03, 2015

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16 • Milwaukee County Post • April 3, 2015 By Tom Jozwik Special to The Post If he were magically granted the ability to spend an evening in the company of any figure from American history, Michael Burlingame's choice would "definitely" be Abraham Lincoln. "It's one thing to read about the magnetism of his presence," said Bur- lingame, a Johns Hopkins history Ph.D. who's undoubtedly read more about Lincoln than most everybody else on earth, in a telephone interview for Conley News Service. "It would be another thing to actually experience it." So, was Honest Abe the greatest of all U.S. presi- dents? "That's certainly my view," Burlingame re- marked, "and the view of most historians." The Washington, D.C., native interviewee's esteem for America's 16th presi- dent is hardly surprising. Burlingame is a renowned Lincoln scholar, the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield (the community with which — aside from Washington — Lincoln is most closely identified). He is the author of the award-winning, two-volume biography "Abraham Lincoln: A Life" (2008) and "The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln" (1994) and has edited about a dozen additional books on the president. And he's working on yet another book, this one focusing on Lincoln, pre-age 30, in the Menard County, Ill. village of New Salem — where Abe toiled as surveyor, soldier, shopkeeper and rail splitter, among other jobs. At 6 p.m. April 9, on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War-ending surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Burlingame will address a gathering of the Civil War Round Table of Milwaukee Inc. on the topic of Lincoln's assassination. The assassination, earliest of four victimizing U.S. presidents, occurred just five days after Lee's surren- der. Why, after a whopping 15 decades, does the killing of Lincoln remain a subject of profound interest to Americans? "Because Lincoln is such a powerful figure in our nation's history," according to Burlingame. Because of the tragic, "moving" nature of the acclaimed presi- dent's passing. Because "true crime, as a literary genre, has long fascinated humanity." Burlingame said that the most important point he intends to make during his April 9 talk in Milwaukee is that "Booth killed Lincoln not because of the Eman- cipation Proclamation (of 1863) or the 13th Amend- ment which abolished slav- ery and was passed by Congress in January 1865, but because of Lincoln's call, in a speech at the White House, for "limited black suffrage" — the exten- sion of voting rights to cer- tain blacks. The date of the speech was April 11, 1865 — three days prior to the assassina- tion. Among those in atten- dance was the racist assas- sin-to-be, John Wilkes Booth, who according to Burlingame correctly informed another person in the crowd, "That's the last speech (Lincoln) is ever going to make." "The psychological makeup of John Wilkes Booth, how estranged he was to his father," will be another area of considera- tion, Burlingame said, when he speaks in Milwaukee. Booth's father mistreated Booth's mother, according to Burlingame. The assassin apparently saw Lincoln as something of a surrogate for his father. In the wake of the assas- sination the celebrated African-American orator and statesman Frederick Douglass eulogized Lincoln as "emphatically the black man's president," Bur- lingame related. A century and a half later, during the phone interview, the Lincoln scholar lauded that same president, in view of the circumstances of his death, as "a martyr to black civil rights as much as Martin Luther King." 150 years since the assassination, Lincoln remains a galvanizing figure in U.S. history Scholar, author to explore persistent questions at Civil War Round table meeting April 9 At a glance Meetings of the Civil War Round Table of Milwaukee — the second-oldest of some 300 such organizations in the United States and beyond — are at the Wisconsin Club, 900 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Meetings are open to the public and free of charge. For more information call 262-376-0568. The organization's email is and its website is www. Burlingame MILWAUKEE — Next Act Theatre's 2015-2016 season will include three Milwaukee premieres and one Next Act original pro- duction. All productions will take place at Next Act's home in Walker's Point at 255 S. Water St. The season will open with "Back of the Throat" by Yussef El Guindi, a sus- penseful thriller set in post-9/11 Manhattan, staged Oct. 1 through Oct. 25. It explores the mean- ing of being a free citizen — wedged uncomfortably between security and civil rights. To kick off the holiday season, Next Act will pro- duce an original produc- tion, "unSilent Night," written by John Kishline and David Cecsarini, run- ning Nov. 12 to Dec. 6. Set in an offbeat Milwaukee radio on Christmas Eve 1954, the radio show host figures out a way to meet the intruder's demands. With the start of the new year, Next Act revis- its a monumental theatre creation of social con- science, "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," by Anna Deavere Smith. Playing Jan. 28 to Feb. 21, it fol- lows the chaos in the Rodney King beating trial that swept the city. The author dramatized her interviews of dozens of participants and witness- es, including King's aunt, truck driver Reginald Denny, Police Chief Daryl Gates, activists, attorneys, journalists, store owners and politicians. The season closes April 7 through May 1, 2016, with "Motherhood Out Loud," by 14 all-star play- wrights.. In 20 scenes — from birth to parental care — spans a range of emotions. On Mother's Day, May 8, 2016, a catered brunch and an appearance by John McGiver n and his mother Joan, conclude the show. A special purchase will be required. Season subscriptions and access passes are on sale and may be purchased by calling the Next Act Ticket Office at 414-278- 0765. Single tickets will go on sale at noon Aug. 3. Artistic Intern Ensemble returns with short plays MILWAUKEE — Mil- waukee Repertory Theat- er's Artistic Intern En- semble presents its annual short-play festival, Rep Lab, returning for its fifth season to the intimate Stiemke Studio from April 10 to 13. Performances were add- ed this season and will fea- ture everything from come- dy to drama to devised work. Rep Lab showcases the work of The Rep's artistic interns across theatrical disciplines from directing to design to acting. This year's productions include: ■ "Every Show You've Ever Seen" by Amelia Roper. ■ "Tape" by José Rivera. ■ "The Latest News from the Primordial Ooze" by Rich Orloff. ■ "People Are Dancing" book and lyrics by Sarah Hammond, music by Benny Gammerman. ■ "Give Until It Hurts" by James Fletcher. ■ "Hysterical" by Steve Yockey. ■ "The Cowboy" by Patrick Holland. Tickets for Rep Lab are $10. For more information, visit www.milwaukeerep. com or call 414-224-9490. The Rep's end-of-season sale set May 2 MILWAUKEE — The Rep will hold its annual End-of-Season Garage Sale on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2. The Rep's Costume, Prop and Production departments are selling clothing from hats to shoes, furniture, light fixtures, set dressing and a decorative suit of armor. Some highlights: dance props and Coalhouse Walker's rolling piano from "Ragtime"; storefront signs and the African shield dance props from "The Color Purple"; hand pup- pets from "Forever Plaid"; the button-tufted Chester- field couch from "Cabaret"; a huge photographic Chicago backdrop from "A Raisin In the Sun"; and a wild boar from "King Lear." The sale will be Milwaukee Repertory Theater's Paint Shop. Payment by cash or check will be accepted and pur- chase must be removed by the end of the day. For more information, call 414-224-1761. Entertainment briefs Next Act 2015-16 season ends with special 'Motherhood' show

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