Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

2012
$50,000

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Kristin Baily in WIDE AWAKE: A CIVIL WAR CABARET.

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, typically known for its role as a performing arts presenter, produced a show in collaboration with Philadelphia-based cabaret group the Bearded Ladies. The result was an expanded version of an earlier Bearded Ladies production, Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret. The group returned to its original script to reexamine issues of race implicitly suggested by a show on the Civil War, conducting research in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's extensive Civil War collection. African-American southerner James Ijames joined the company for both the development and performance of the work, in which he played Abraham Lincoln. The female members of the Bearded Ladies donned moustaches, top hats, corsets, and britches to play historically marginalized leaders from the era. Shadow puppets, a period house façade, and a band consisting of tuba, trombone, trumpet, accordion, and drums were added to evoke the 1860s. After the show, the performance spilled out into the hallway with the sounds of the band continuing until all of the audience had left. The production was part of the second Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in April 2013.