The East Tennessee Historical Society has recognized UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre for its production of The Whipping Man, a haunting Civil War-era play that tackles difficult issues and the region’s history.
The theater received the Award of Distinction this month from the historical society for its adaptation of the play. It was one of six individuals or organizations recognized for making significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, programming, and interpretation of East Tennessee’s history.
“The Clarence Brown Theatre is thrilled to receive a 2014 Award of Distinction,” said managing director David Byrd. “Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man resonated on so many levels and like all CBT productions, it was created right here in this community, for this community. Our guest artists, staff, faculty, and students are most proud of this accomplishment.”
The play, performed on UT’s Carousel Theatre stage in January and February, was set in April 1865 and recounts the story of a wounded Jewish Confederate soldier who returns to his home in Richmond only to find it ruined and abandoned, except for two former slaves also raised in the Jewish faith. As the three men celebrate Passover, they uncover a tangle of secrets and grapple with an uncertain future brought on by the end of the Civil War.
Before The Whipping Man opened, the play sparked a scholarly lecture at the Arnstein Jewish Community Center on the phenomenon of Jewish slaveholders. The production also generated significant discussions among audience members of all ages, during the intermissions and at scheduled post-performance talks, according to the nomination letter from Brooks Clark, chair-elect of the Clarence Brown Theatre Advisory Board.
“It was truly a production that made a difference in our understanding of a complex historical moment,” he said.
Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)