Actors will take the stage April 14 in Springfield, Ill., to perform a comedy that is remembered for its role in an American tragedy.
One hundred fifty years to the day that President Lincoln was shot during the laughter of Act 3, Scene 2, the curtain will rise again on “Our American Cousin.”
FOR THE RECORD:
Lincoln’s burial: In the April 12 Travel section, an article about activities in Springfield, Ill., in connection with the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination misidentified the cemetery where Lincoln is buried as Oak Grove Cemetery. It is Oak Ridge Cemetery. —
The play is among the activities in Springfield commemorating the anniversaries of the assassination and funeral. Illinois’ capital was Lincoln’s adopted hometown, the only place he ever owned a house.
“Lincoln in 1837, at the age of 28, rode into Springfield on a borrowed horse to begin his practice as an attorney,” said James Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Springfield was the place he chose as his home, and he intended to come back here … after his second presidential term.”
Springfield will once again be awash in black bunting for the re-creation of the procession and funeral.
Lincoln was buried in Springfield’s Oak Grove Cemetery on May 4, 1865. To avoid modern weekday traffic, the reenactment will be staged the weekend of May 2 and 3.
Working from newspaper accounts and a single photograph, an Arizona company is building a replica of the black wooden hearse that carried Lincoln’s lanky body through the streets of Springfield. The hearse, which had silver and gold ornamentation, will be topped with clusters of ostrich feathers, as the 1865 original was.
Glory, the horse that Daniel Day-Lewis rode during his Oscar-winning performance in the 2012 film “Lincoln,” will be part of the cortege. Glory is owned by a Springfield-area veterinarian and will stand in for Old Bob, the president’s mount.
A candlelight vigil will take place the evening of May 2 outside the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln’s body lay in state in 1865.
“There were an estimated 75,000 people that passed by Lincoln’s casket,” Cornelius said. That was about five times the city’s population then.
The morning of May 3, churches across Springfield will ring their bells in tribute.
At noon, the procession will depart for the cemetery. The funeral will begin at 3 p.m. and will conclude about 90 minutes later as 36 cannons fire a sesquicentennial salute.
A list detailing the activities in Springfield is available at https://www.lat.ms/1bNSOBe. The procession and funeral are free, but there is an admission charge for some events.
Multiple performances of “Our American Cousin” will be staged through April 19. The production will be historically accurate, said director Pam Brown.
Twenty minutes into the play, the actors will stop and gesture to mark Lincoln’s late arrival at Ford’s Theatre. During Act 3, a gunshot will ring out, and the play will stop as a cast member shares details of the assassination.
Unlike April 14, 1865, the show will then resume.
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