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Living History (in which actors portray figures from the past) and other theatrical performances occur from time-to-time, focusing on Abraham Lincoln, his times, and his legacy. These mini-performances take place in the Museum Plaza, Union Theatre, and outdoors in Union Square Park, and even in exhibit areas.
Our Ford’s Theatre exhibit, which depicts part of the stage and the Presidential box, is the scene of short performances, including Mrs. Wade, who came to the theatre after the recent assassination, and Jason Knox, who was a soldier back from the war and witnessed “the saddest tragedy ever enacted in the country.” Both characters are based on letters they wrote at the time.
Other Living History actors that can be seen throughout the year are Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Bush Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant, President & Mary Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, and Civil War soldiers.
Visitors entering the Cabinet Room exhibit may be greeted by an actor portraying Francis Carpenter, the artist who painted the famous portrait of Lincoln and his Cabinet upon which the exhibit is based. The actor, as Francis Carpenter, talks to visitors about the events leading up to the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
One Destiny, a 40-minute play by Richard Hellesen, is performed in the Union Theatre, telling the story of the Lincoln assassination through the eyes of actor Harry Hawk – who was onstage when Lincoln was shot – and theatre manager Harry Ford.
Union Theater productions have included productions of The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, Flight, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, Lincolnesque, ReUnion, The Civil War, A Christmas Carol, The Last Full Measure, Mister Lincoln, My Heart’s Home: Edgar Lee Masters Celebrates the Sangamon Country, and The Heavens Are Hung in Black.