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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World Premiere of Civil War drama opens at New Jersey Repertory in Long Branch


New Jersey Repertory Company to present the World Premiere of Butler by Richard Strand, directed by Joseph Discher and starring Ames Adamson (photo right), David Sitler, Benjamin Sterling (photo left) and John G. Williams (photo center).

 Butler is a recipient of a prestigious Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award and is based on real life events that changed the lives of more than 10,000 slaves.

The play begins at the start of the Civil War and Butler, a successful Massachusetts lawyer in civilian life has just been promoted to Major General and is given command of Fort Monroe, a Union hold-out in the state of Virginia. The Fort, situated in a highly strategic location between North and South, was considered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee to be a great threat to Richmond, a center of Confederate strength.

By the time Butler assumed command, he was thrust into the thick of things and was already considered by his superiors to be a prickly individual who had a tendency to bend orders and to over-step authority. It is this independence of spirit that ultimately leads to the explosive situation that becomes the central event of the play.

The catalyst that sets these events in motion is the unexpected appearance of Shepard Mallory (John G. Williams), a runaway slave, who requests sanctuary at the fort. However, the law of the land at the time has not yet changed and slaves are still considered property that must be turned over to their "rightful owners".  Tantamount to a death-sentence, Butler is confronted with a daunting moral dilemma. 

Butler begins preview performances on Thursday, June 12 and celebrates its opening night on Saturday, June 14 at New Jersey Repertory Company (179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ), and runs through Sunday, July 13. Tickets may be purchased by calling 732-229-3166 or online at Photo courtesy: SuzAnne Barabas.

The production team includes: Jessica Parks (Set Design & Props), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Merek Royce Press (Sound Design), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), Michael Carroll (Technical Director),Jennifer Tardibuono (Stage Manager), and Brad Lemons (Stage Combat).

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