The Rivalry

Presented by L.A. Theatre Works

Thurs | Mar 1, 2012 | 7:30pm

Starring: Diane Adair, Josh Clark, Rebecca Mozo, Robert Parsons

Over one hundred and fifty years ago, Americans struggled with issues of slavery, race, freedom, equality, states’ rights, and the role of the federal government. In the 1858 Illinois Senate race, as the country steamrolled towards civil war, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas embarked on a series of debates. Their epic clash of ideas and oratory forged a future President and a nation. Without access to television, bloggers, and podcasts, the debates were witnessed by thousands and read about by many thousands more thanks to the newly invented practice of stenography.

“The Rivalry,” Norman Corwin’s riveting depiction of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, uses texts from the original debate transcripts to bring to life in an onstage, “radio theater” style of drama, the fierce competition between the future President and the incumbent Senator. The play eloquently reminds us of a time when political debate engaged Americans in a way that screeching talking TV heads and the blogosphere cannot. “The Rivalry” is also a stunning testament to the willingness of two leading political adversaries to put aside their differences and “reach across the aisle” for the good of the country.

“These speeches of Lincoln will be recognized for a long time to come… and our children will read them and appreciate the great truths which they so forcibly inculcate, with an even higher appreciation of their worth than their fathers possessed while listening to them. They, in fact, are in advance of the age in which they were delivered, and contain those elements which give that vitality to all human productions which carries them beyond the present and makes them useful and beautiful in the future.” – Chicago Daily Democrat, November 11, 1858