In The PassionPit with Jay Michaels

Phoning Booth: A Discussion of spit&vigor’s The BRUTES and The Booth Family … with a Booth Family member

October 4, 2019

spit & vigor presents a very special showing of THE BRUTES for some very special guests. 

On Friday, November 15, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. THE BRUTES by Casey Wimpee will be presented at THE PLAYERS – once the historic home of Edwin Booth – 16 Gramercy Park S, New York City. Members of the Booth family will be in attendance, and the performance is presented in collaboration with spit&vigor by Paul Valle, the great-great-great grandson of patriarch Junius Brutus Booth, and his wife Jan. 

Nominated for a 2019 New York Innovative Theater Award and seven 2018 Planet Awards including Outstanding Direction, Ensemble, Choreography, and Costumes; and recognized by The New York Times, THE BRUTES is making history while telling it.

THE BRUTES is a look inside 19th century America's most theatrically prolific family, in the months before the youngest son committed one of the most famous assassinations in history. In November of 1864, three sons of the legendary actor Junius Brutus Booth and famed performers in their own right, Junius Jr, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth, came together at New York's Winter Garden Theatre to share the stage, incredibly for the first and only time, in a benefit performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The funds would be used to erect the statue of William Shakespeare that stands in Central Park to this day.

Through the poetic lens of Casey Wimpee, THE BRUTES is a look into a nation divided, and a family divided in turn. Less than six months before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, while rehearsing over the week of Thanksgiving, this family attempts to put politics aside and come together for the sake of art. But violence looms over the family - and the nation - and anger prevails over peace, in a brutal lesson that still resonates today. 

But this play is not solely about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. THE BRUTES illuminates the individual members of the Booth family before their legacy was overshadowed by Wilkes' violence. Their legacy was one of drama and intrigue and creation, but the violent politics of John Wilkes Booth would work to poison that well for years to come, if not for the efforts of his family and particularly Edwin Booth. 

This play will be performed at The Players, in the Gramercy Park mansion that Edwin historically deeded to the newly-formed club, along with his extensive library and collections of art and theatrical memorabilia. Eminent figures of theatre, journalism, arts and literature, and commerce, including Mark Twain, Joseph Jefferson, and Stanford White served as incorporators of The Players, which remains in its historic location and continues to promote art, drama, and creation. 

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