On Commissions – The Hows & The Whys – Discuss

Tis the season for new play commissions in our midst. We’ve launched 5 of them with Locally Grown, and we’re soon to be ushering in a 6th with the world premiere comedy, ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION, THE KINSEY SICKS FOR PRESIDENT which begins performances, believe it or not, next Saturday, February 4th, only a few days after the world premiere production of Renee Calarco’s THE RELIGION THING comes to a close (Sunday, after the 7:30 show). Last night, students from UM, UC, and ND (that’s the Fighting Irish) saw another world premiere new play commission, this time at Ford’s Theatre for Richard Hellesen’s NECESSARY SACRIFICES.

The question we’re going to ask of our commissioned playwrights, our new play development staff — both at Theater J and perhaps elsewhere in the city, and the country as well, is “why commission?” What’s perilous about it for a theater? What’s wonderful about it for a theater?

How’s it an albatross of pressure and over-direction for a playwright? And why’s it wonderful for a playwright?

How does a commission work? And in those rare cases, how does a commission NOT work!?

We’ll do a shout-out for responses and post herein and below in the comments. Respond away!

18 thoughts on “On Commissions – The Hows & The Whys – Discuss

  1. I’ve had my share of commissions, and from my perspective, I’ve suffered more from a lack of interest in what I’m doing than from any kind of overbearing pressure: people giving me money, in other words, and then being too disinterested in the work I’m producing. This has happened twice, and in both instances, I believe the people who commissioned me had simply taken on too many projects, or hadn’t put together the necessary resources to support everyone they’d decided to work with.

    Luckily, that has not been the case AT ALL with Theater J, which has maintained a steady, supportive, thoughtful, inquisitive, and above all generous presence as I’ve been writing the last few months.

    For me, the single most important component of a commission is the simple, human fact of the theater’s INTEREST in what I’m doing. Yes, it would be nice if every commission came with the expectation of a future production. But I trust that a production will come somewhere, either with the theater that commissioned me or somewhere else, whenever the play is ready. The theater’s interest in me, in my artistic vision, is like jet fuel for my work no matter where the jet ends up landing.

  2. I’ve been blessed to have received a number of commissions from a variety of sources: theatres, museums, a foundation honoring creative writers and an organization honoring local, regional and national theatre artists. I believe that commissions are essential. Not only for the livelihood, nourishment, and visibility of the playwright, but also for the awareness, vitality and sustainability of the theater institution and its community.

    As has been discussed at length and deserves even further investigation, for an unknown or emerging playwright, it’s a rare and beautiful thing to have your play plucked from obscurity and produced. Self-production is an excellent, but exhausting exercise. The rewards vary, but ultimately it too is worth it. To be commissioned, however, is to be adopted by a particular theater. It is an opportunity to learn how a theater breathes, how its bones crack, where its joints ache, the flexibility and durability of its spine, how wide its wingspan … It is a chance to listen to the tempo of a theater’s heartbeat and to align yours either on the up or the down beat; to shoulder its burdens and concerns through your body; and to speak to its mission and vision through your voice.

    Now, some adoptions don’t work out so well. The chemistry and biorhythms of the artists just don’t align. Perhaps a play is written that the theater doesn’t wish to produce, but the playwright loves and can take elsewhere. Perhaps a play is written and produced, but in a fashion that compromises the playwrights vision. The beauty is that the playwright can still take that play elsewhere. For me, the best commissions support, strengthen, honor, and challenge every single individual in the room. If all parties can remain decent and willing to listen to one another, if everyone can check their egos at the door and serve the play, then good things can happen. But none of this is easy. It takes work. It takes discipline, focus, attention to detail, openness, and trust.

    Theater J gifted me the opportunity to write, The Hampton Years, a play that would not have existed had it not been for this commission. Before I even sat down to write, I had an artistic team at my side and an entire organization who wanted nothing more than to help me accomplish what I had to set out to do: to write a play. Six months and 170 pages later, they were still there, eager to read and respond to each and every word. When two weeks prior to the public reading, I discovered the need for two new characters to be played by one actor, I was met with a resounding, Yes! I believe Ari’s words were something to the effect of “go, write, dream, create a new role for an actor in the American Theater.” I have grown tremendously as writer. I see the enormous and lasting impact of this experience as I steady myself to rewrite one play and begin to write my newest play.

    It is my sincere hope that Theater J continues these commissions. Their efforts are doing much contribute not only to the DC Theatre community, to our actors, directors, dramaturgs, and playwrights; but also to that great entity, which is the American Theater at large.

  3. I walked into Ford’s Theatre and immediately looked to my right; I saw the box that one of America’s most venerated presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated in. Though I, as well as everyone who passed second grade, knew the story, I realized I lacked knowledge about Lincoln in other areas. What was he like? What influenced his monumental decisions? I soon learned about these and more through the informative, engaging play Necessary Sacrifices.

    It especially struck me how Lincoln made his decisions. Personally, he opposed the institution of slavery, but not all of his policies reflected that sentiment. When Frederick Douglass confronted Lincoln about this incongruity, Lincoln’s response surprised me; he said he could not force the people to believe in something. He believed that the way the country decided to abolish slavery was as important as the fact that it did. His reasoning was solid; if Lincoln forced a law onto the American populace that went unsupported, it would create backlash, making the law hard to enforce. However, if he convinced the people that slavery needed to be abolished, the sentiment would stick. When Douglass and Lincoln first discussed this concept, I agreed with Douglass’s criticisms. However, through Lincoln’s explanation I realized that a leader represents not just himself, but an entire population. Sometimes, he has to comply with the majority, even if he disagrees with a policy or knows it to be unjust.

    I enjoyed Necessary Sacrifices for more than the revelation it provoked. The play aptly portrayed the personalities of some of the most important men in America’s history. Lincoln caused me to laugh and Douglass caused me to think. Even though he had mere days to prepare for the role, Craig Wallace did a great job; his performance completely distracted me from the script he was holding. Everything considered, this was one of my favorite performances our class has seen to date.

  4. I feel like Gwydion and Jackie have both accurately described the balancing act that a commission can become for the playwright. Without structure, a commission is just money and leaves the writer alone. With structure, which Theater J was able to provide, the experience becomes a real opportunity to explore new work in a communal manner.

    I subscribe to the belief that plays are not made by a writer alone in a room. They can write all sorts of lovely words on pages but until they interact with other artists the piece will not become a work of theatre. The more opportunities the writer can have to build their work with other artists, I believe, the stronger that work can become. I think providing actors, directors, dramaturgs and designers as part of a commission is essential – and rarely done. Plus, it show’s the theater’s desire to strengthen the entire artistic community and build those strong relationships. I applaud Theater J for incorporating as many artists in the room as possible.

    The difficult part for commissions is the question of what comes next. What is the “end result” of the commission. Is the commission to strengthen the play? The writer? The relationship with the theater? Is it going to be considered for full production? Is it being commissioned for full production? Will the theater help promote it to other theatre’s, if it ends up not being a fit? Having answers to these questions early on would help stop any bitterness or resentments that could grow out of the process. Things can always change, but making sure everyone is on the same page is worthwhile.

    I hope that Theater J continues to grow the commissioning project. I hope that the work that comes out of Theater J’s commissions makes it not only to your stage but to other stages in this city. I hope the work makes it to other theater’s outside of DC looking for work that touches on Jewish subjects (or whatever the writers end up creating). I hope that Theater J keeps encouraging collaboration among local artists.

  5. Really important points made here by Hannah, Jackie and Gwydion — and, if you’ll indulge the dual nature of this particular posting, we’ll interlace some student response as to how the Ford’s Theatre commission of NECESSARY SACRIFICES seemed to work, both as a commission, and as a production. Hannah asks important questions that will be good prompts for us to discuss as a staff — I think these were questions only tacitly addressed early in the relationships with our commissioned playwrights — time to give more voice to them in the weeks ahead. But because we chose writers with whom we have a close working relationship already, we can unequivocally say that we’re committed to helping these plays through to completion–meaning production–whether on our stage or elsewhere in this city and beyond. I see us happily committing resources — both human, brainpower, and perhaps more material — to usher these plays forward, from draft to draft, from stage to stage — until our authors have realized a vision for the work. Fortunately, all five of our commissioned writers have written work that’s got dimension, and that we believe in. So we’ll be partners in the process of pushing them forward.

  6. “Necessary Sacrifices” is a wonderful play. It brilliantly meshes the real history of the Lincoln-Douglass meetings with humor, drama and tremendous dialogue. I particularly enjoyed how the cast size was small and the scene changes were limited, as to keep the focus of the play entirely on these two powerful discussions. Entering into the play with a decent background on Lincoln’s slavery-related policy and the history of the Civil War, I was pleasantly surprised to see how accurately the positions of these two men were portrayed. Yes, Lincoln was the “Great Emancipator” but, obviously, the story is much deeper than that. The play highlighted the fact that Lincoln was truly a politician. This is not to say that Lincoln wasn’t genuine in his beliefs, but rather that the “practicalities” of the time, as well his vision for the future of America, mattered immensely to him. The script and acting reflected the actual relationship between the two men extremely well, and thus was able to leave a lasting impression on the viewer.
    In response to the question at hand, I believe that commissions are a necessary avenue for creating art. The artists at the top of the page -Gwydion Suilebhan and Jacqueline Lawton- wrote telling segments about the inner-workings of commissions and I will refer to their judgment on the pros and cons of commissioned work. Even with no experience in working with a commission, however, I can imagine that a significant detriment to commissioned work is that it is “inorganic;” i.e. forced art. This can lead to disinterest by the artist. However, commissions are a significant source for great art as we can see with “Necessary Sacrifices.” I am not sure if this is accurate but it seems that the plays at Ford’s Theatre are commissioned with President Lincoln in mind. In this case, I think commissions are a wonderful idea as they sponsor artists like Jennifer Nelson to contribute new and entertaining pieces to the Lincoln Legacy project. In sum, commissions can produce amazing art. “Necessary Sacrifices” is an example of just such a phenomenon.

  7. This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending NECESSARY SACRIFICES at Ford’s Theater. It was both exciting and eerie to witness an event in such an historic venue, especially due to the fact that an actor depicting Abraham Lincoln was only feet away from the place where the real Lincoln was shot. I was immediately struck by the history and tragedy that seemed to permeate through the theater. As for the play itself, I found the play to be very enjoyable and inspiring. The script, though dense, was incredibly written and was full of thought provoking lines and conversations. One that particularly struck me occurred after Lincoln explained to Douglass how he sometimes had to enact policies that he disagreed with and thought were wrong in order to satisfy the American people. “That’s not leadership!” Douglass exclaimed angrily. “It’s leadership in a democracy,” replied Lincoln. This profound exchange really made me think about the idea of democracy that we as Americans hold in such high regard, and the impact it has on a leader’s decisions. Overall, the dialogue captured the strained yet close friendship of Lincoln and Douglass and truly did the two American heroes justice.

    Relating the play to the discussion on commissions, I love the fact that Ford’s theater commissioned a play about Lincoln. The theater and Lincoln are inextricably linked– it is hard to even think of Ford’s without connecting it to the tragic event that occurred there. By commissioning a play that allows others to more fully understand the great impact that Lincoln had, the theater is essentially turning a negative into a positive. Instead of dwelling on the horrific event that happened in Ford’s, the theater is working to expand the knowledge and appreciation that others have for Lincoln. I think this is a great strategy to have and think that the theater should commission more plays depicting Lincoln’s life and accomplishments.

  8. It’s interesting that writers would suffer from a lack of interest when commissioned to write a play or any type of piece for a specific theater or subject matter. I’m not familiar at all with the entire process of obtaining or giving out a commission for a play, but I figured that there would be enough supply of writers to find someone who is interested in writing a specific project. If there is actually a shortage in supply of writers to meet the demand for commissions, then I am mistaken. However, to say that someone is disinterested when someone else gives the first person money to do what he or she loves seems quite strange. I’m not going to disagree with the usefulness of commissions in general because someone needs to make the down payment or initial investment for a play to be created. However, it seems like the pairing process between the writers and the subject matter or specific intent of the piece of art needs to be revamped, based on the previous bloggers’ comments.

    Having said that, “Necessary Sacrifices”, directed by Jennifer Nelson and written by Richard Hellesen was a great match with Ford’s Theatre. I assume most of the plays that are performed in Ford’s Theatre are Abraham Lincoln themed. According to Ford’s Theatre’s website, Mr. Hellesen had also previously written some successful Lincoln or Civil War themed plays for Ford’s Theatre, including “The Road from Appomattox”. That seems like a great formula for success in terms of granting commissions. Once a writer is shown to be able to write successful plays about a given subject matter, returning to that same writer and granting him or her more commissions about similar subjects seems rational. This successful formula could be seen in “Necessary Sacrifices”. Even though almost all of the play was a dialogue between Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, my attention was held throughout the duration, as two cunning, witty, and subtly humorous leaders discussed some of the most divisive issues of the time using skillful debate skills and outstanding rhetoric.

    • The way I see it, if a play suffers from being a poor commission, it might be due to a few reasons. For one, if a writer who has been commissioned but doesn’t take the time to get immersed, involved, or dedicated enough to try to learn about what they are being asked to write about and create a quality play, that speaks quite a bit to the dedication of the playwright. From the playwrights that I have met, all of them truly have remarkable respect for their craft and ultimately want to create the best play possible. In extreme cases where a writer might feel they could not do adequate justice to a commission, would it be too crazy to step down from the project or ask for input from other writers? I’m also curious as to how a playwright is selected to be a part of a commission. I’m assuming it’s not just random.
      Relating to what we saw in “Necessary Sacrifices”, I agree that Richard Hellenson did a phenomenal job creating the play that unfolded before our eyes. Given the reasons that Will discussed above, it seems like sticking with success is and should be the preference when choosing a writer.

  9. I appreciate the significance of watching NECESSARY SACRIFICES, given its content, characters and the overall theme of the play in the historic Fords Theater. It was amazing and I think its something I will remember for quite sometime to come.

    I admired the set as well; it was considerably elaborate compared to what we have seen so far. This really came forward during one of the beginning scenes where Mr. Lincoln is speaking behind the cloud backdrop screen. It gave a real theatrical illusion to the storyline. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the overall plot; it very much made history come alive for me. I thought the character of Lincoln was played exceptionally well; it was hard to believe there was an actor and not Lincoln himself.

    In addition, the fact that all of this took place less than 50 feet from where President Lincoln watched his last play was something in my mind the whole time as I watched the show. I think the storyline made history come alive for me, I might say I have a new understanding for both characters as they were in real life, however it really made me, and I believe the audience fell in love with the relationship Lincoln and Douglass displayed on stage. I had never considered the personalities of these two figures, and the events that took place. Now I feel informed and that I have really learned something I had not know before. At one point, as I looked around, I saw some of the members on the upper level expressed tears towards the end of the show, when Douglass and Lincoln finally unionized. I would be interested in asking the director if she plans to do anything dramatic or perhaps something more to push that portion of the show over the edge? It seems like there is real potential for something towards this break to push things a little forward, ultimately bringing that emotional point to its potential height.

  10. Although “Necessary Sacrifices” was a play set in the past, the writer and director effectively used the play to make the audience think about the future. The most glaring example of this came at the very end of the play, when Frederick Douglass pointed out into the audience and placed the burden of safeguarding civil rights upon our shoulders. Although it was at this point that the connection from past to present was most clear, i felt the connection throughout the entire play. Lincoln and Douglass were debating in the context of the struggle surrounding slavery, but i felt like the deeper philosophical conversation they were having extended beyond the confines of the singular issue and time. That is what made the message relevant to me, today, in a post-abolition society. There will always be resistance to change, but it is the strong men who can overcome the fear of resistance to try and make a positive change in society.

    I thought that for a class on theater and politics this was a great production to see. From apolitical perspective, its interesting that even though Lincoln thought he was throwing away his chances at being re-elected by supporting abolition, in the end was still re-elected. It was also enlightening to hear the President’s perspective on the political viability of difficult issues, and how that translated into his public support(or lack there-of). When Lincoln said the United States “wasn’t ready” for abolition what he really meant was that it wasn’t politically viable, and it was interesting to hear the issue framed in that way.

    I thought all of the actors did very well, but David Selby was simply amazing at capturing the character of Abraham Lincoln. From the witty but folksy jokes to the constantly hunched figure i was completely convinced that Abraham Lincoln himself was on the stage. So much so that i actually felt sadness when i thought such an intelligent and likeable person had been brutally murdered within feet of where i was sitting. The feeling of Lincoln’s actual presence really completed the experience of Ford’s Theater for me.

  11. To respond to the question of the pros and cons of commissioned work, I think a relevant question is whether artists create for the sole purpose of creating art, or if they view their work as a means to a livelihood. I don’t think, for any given artist, it is one or the other solely. My guess is that most playwrights seek to create relevant and throught-provoking work but also understand the necessity of the business aspect to be able to sustain such a career.
    But, there exists a relevant range for which artists are motivated by art or money. For that relevant range, commissioned work may provide stability that playwrights desire. In addition, the stability may free an artist from the pressures of sustaining his or her livelihood to focus on writing. On the other hand, commissioned artists may feel that the work isn’t genuine, that it doesn’t come from true inspiratio and finds its source in money. It really depends on the motivations of the artist to decide whether or not a commission work deters or enhances the quality of his or her playwriting.

    • (Part of my response that I previously left out.)
      The structure of “Necessary Sacrifices” as a two scene play comprised essentially of dialogue between two persons struck me because, in an age where we focus our attention on any one given topic for increasingly shorter periods of time, I was captivated for over two hours. Further, as Lincoln and Douglas were able to take time to create dialogue about their situations, I wondered what exactly we have lost through technological advances. Has decision quality by leaders been helped or hurt by the increasing availability of information and the rise of social media? While there are certain identifiable advantages to technological progress, “Necessary Sacrifices” illustrates an example of a situation where individuals benefited from time to think to reach thoughtful conclusions on how to proceed.

  12. “To be commissioned, however, is to be adopted by a particular theater. It is an opportunity to learn how a theater breathes, how its bones crack, where its joints ache, the flexibility and durability of its spine, how wide its wingspan … It is a chance to listen to the tempo of a theater’s heartbeat and to align yours either on the up or the down beat; to shoulder its burdens and concerns through your body; and to speak to its mission and vision through your voice.”

    Ms. Lawton, although I’m a college student with a scant background in theater, I thought your description of the relationship between a theater and a commissioned playwright was a piece of literary brilliance. Thank you for sharing your insights—this goes to others on this blog as well, especially the other playwrights. I hadn’t expected to be in such close intellectual proximity to playwrights, and I really value the chance to hear/read your thoughts firsthand. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to do this! I think Will Reising asks a really good question about the mechanics of commissions in his comment.

    Previous blog posts have pointed out the elevated drama achieved by producing a Lincoln-themed play at Ford’s Theater. I saw another situation that heightened the power of Necessary Sacrifices: first, America’s president today also struggles between ideology and practicality; second, the black man sitting in the presidential desk chair is now the President of the United States himself. I left the play musing about that progress and humming “Hard Times,” the song the violinist played so soulfully. It’s one I’ve known since I was little, and helped to draw me into the play.

    This play affirmed my conviction that Lincoln was one of America’s greatest presidents—perhaps the greatest. Like Will Scheffer mentions above, that the actor so closely resembled Lincoln really enhanced my viewing experience. His mannerisms, too, helped to draw and compact the legend of the man into an accessible, humanly imperfect, concrete form. The squeak of his voice and the startling angles his legs bent when he sat down humanized the mythical Lincoln in a way no mere story could.

    The actor who played Douglas had an incredibly powerful stage presence—script or not. Future audiences will be in for a treat when he is liberated from his notebook (I hope that wasn’t too strong a verb to use in this context).

    “Necessary sacrifices?” Douglas asked. “When will they be ‘unnecessary sacrifices?’”

    The dialogue that more or less fits this description was chilling, incredibly powerful, and absolutely timeless. To this day, so much violence continues to be perpetrated by governments and non-state actors alike. We must not forget to ask this question.

  13. Having heard nothing about the material of the ‘Necessary Sacrifices’, and knew little about the story of Lincoln and Douglas, I was surprised by the essentially two-men show.I was also surprised by the prolong ‘script reading’ and the alien voice from ‘Lincoln’. The comedic element in the play is nicely used, blending a sense of lightness to a show with little movements, scene changes and characters. David Selby certainly plays out plenty of the physical characteristics and humor of Abraham Lincoln. However, his high-pitch voice comes as a shock that takes me quite a while to recognize the character he is playing. While Abraham Lincoln may or may not have a similar voice, the incident really forces me to rethink about my stereotype of the man on the US 5-dollar bill. All I knew before was, as what Director Jennifer Nelson states in her notes: won the civil war, ended slavery, humble roots, >6 feet tall, lots of facial hair… and possibly a deep and firm voice. Indeed, the reincarnation of Lincoln on David Selby really splatters my ignorant and stubborn mental image of the president.

    Mostly through dialogues, the two actors present their ideologies and political stands to the audience. It is through the dialogues that one can really see the physical, emotional and mental experience both great men were going through. Also, it walks the audience through a clear but meander path that leads to the most important decision made in US history. Even though the show in a certain extent deglorifies the image of Lincoln, it presents to the audience a strong sense of truth and brings the legendary hero back into a human form.

    Unfortunately, the unprecedented change in actor and the resulting ‘script reading’ have more or less impacted an authentic and comfortable delivery of the material. Even though Craig Wallace strove so hard to add on colors for the character, reading off the script during the dialogues has audially, visually and emotionally wounded the beauty and integrity of the show. As the blocking is still quite not there, the stillness of the dialogues carries the power to hypnotize audiences who have sat still and stared in one direction in their cubicles for a whole day.

    Yet, as the second half unfolds, the dialogues become more thought-provoking. The materials in this show seems to share a surprising number of similarities with the current state of being in US. Whether it is electoral politics, partisanship, re-election, human right activism.. all these issues which are playing such an important role this year and in the past in America seem to be another reenactment of issues occurred more than 15 decades ago. Whether such points are created intentionally is a myth, but for a play that recounts events such a long time ago, ‘Necessary Sacrifices’ has proven its powerful relevance to the contemporary politics in this nation.

  14. I know I’m a bit late for this conversation, but I was consumed with revisions on my commissioned play! Commission as albatross? Heck no. I agree with those above: having a theater take interest in developing a work, especially an active interest, strengthens the play — enormously. No hinderance there. I am now on the third version of my play, and I feel that all the input — from Theater J staff and audience — has been enormously helpful. I can’t imagine creating a great work without building layers of completion, aided by a community. This experience has been one of the most helpful and exquisite of my career. Creating solo work means that I don’t have actors to help shape my material. I love having a group of people at Theater J invested in that shaping. After this, I can’t imagine creating work any other way. Ultimately, a commission works if you feel that the Theater is an artistic home. This is my experience.

  15. If I can comment, adding to my initial post, addressing some of what others have said and something that was brought up in class last Thursday (all in one). I didn’t even take into consideration, until our discussion was the oversimplified yet very complex back and forth between the two characters and the positions they represented. It may have been obvious to some, right off the bat, but perhaps I was placing too much emphasis in other areas entirely.

    The play clearly displayed the humor and mostly cordial interaction between these two legends. Whats intriguing after our conversation last week is how, although both of them agreed with each other and wanted to achieve very similar goals, one of them (Lincoln) was having to face the realities how to efficiently enact what he believed, the challenges that stood in the way and perhaps a host of other things. and on the other hand, Douglass with his personal experience with slavery, his passion zealously driving him forward to take action. I wouldn’t call Douglass naive, but he did in a way remind you of “Mandy” from TIME STANDS STILL and how she felt about the animal being documented instead of rescued. The example is clearly very indirect, but the concept is similar I hope.

    The way the two (Lincoln and Douglass) complimented each other now is even more illuminating that I have taken time to ponder over it.

  16. I was shocked by the portrayal of these characters and how they interacted as well. Lincoln and Douglas were portrayed as having the same ultimate goal, but conflicting view points on how to actually achieve it. The depiction of Lincoln caught me by a surprise since Lincoln’s character was far more morally inclined than what I had been taught. In the play, freedom for African Americans seems to have been a great goal of Lincoln. African Americans’ freedom was presented as an isolated goal, one provoked simply by morals and the need for equality. Lincoln was presented as a very liberal man, while I had always learned Lincolns desire to extend the rights of African Americans did not come from him respecting them as equals. Rather it was to preserve the infrastructure of the nation. Because I had this perception of him it was difficult for me to embrace the idea of Lincoln morally prioritizing African Americans freedom.
    Along with portraying Douglas and Lincoln as having common goals there was a suggestion of a friendship, or some type bond to say the least. It was clear that Douglas and Lincoln had very different views on how things should have been done; Douglas was rooting for drastic change while Lincoln was pushing for accepted change. Lincoln stated something along the lines of, he could only push as much as country would allow him. Douglas was not fond of Lincoln’s choice of action and his dissatisfaction did not go unspoken. Throughout the play Lincoln seemed very aware of Douglas’s feeling towards him and tried to assure Douglas he was not the enemy. Eventually, I began to see them start listening to each other more and eventually acknowledge one another’s point of view. Although I read the notes from Director Jennifer Nelson I still found this bond shocking.

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