Tomorrow night, Witness will open at the Diva Theater in Scranton.
And I’ll be playing this fierce fox in a hoop skirt:
Witness is an original work written and directed by Caleb Matthew Williams. It centers on the witnesses of the Lincoln assassination, mostly the ones you’ve never heard about. One of which is Laura Keene, a famous actress of the time who was starring in Our American Cousin.
Over the past few months, I’ve become well-acquainted with Miss Keene, learning about her convict first husband, her reputation for being shrewd in business matters, and how she made her daughters call her “Aunt” rather than “Mother”.
I learned that she balanced firmness with gentleness, fighting to ensure that her cast was taken care of.
She became the first powerful female theater manager in New York City and opened several of her own performance houses. Her shows were uncommonly long-running for the time. Her popularity was indisputable – and she was not to be taken advantage of.
During one benefit performance, she went to the box office mid-show to get her share of the ticket proceeds (a duty normally reserved for a male manager). In costume, she calmly demanded her portion, counted it quickly and silently, then stowed it away, only to walk back on stage minutes later.
She was described as a chameleon, able to strike the countenance of a queen and then change instantly into a street urchin – whatever the role demanded.
She died at the age of 47 from tuberculosis in Montclair, NJ following a performance tour in northern Pennsylvania.
She was a proud woman.
Playing a character like her is a gift. I can pull from both what’s in the script and what’s known about her life, but more importantly, she can teach me something.
What she accomplished during her time was no easy feat.
Maybe, just maybe, I can remember to not get discouraged as easily and to be a bit more assertive, thanks to her.
It’s fun to play a (let’s say) determined diva with a touch of TB and ‘tude.
Want to see for yourself? Here are the details on Witness.
150 years ago an assassination occurred that changed the direction of a nation. Experience the first hand accounts of that fateful night from the observers of the event. They say there are two sides to every story, but if you bore witness to a historic event, would you see it the same way as everyone else?
- Showtimes: April 15-18, 8:00 p.m. & April 19, 4:00 p.m.
- Diva Theater: 126 West Market Street, Scranton, PA
- For reservations, call 570-209-7766