For any celebration of American history, patriotism, and politics!
A Performance Reading in the Style of Radio Drama 
with the Music of American Composers
 

"Abe Lincoln in the 21st Century" 

  David Houston as Abe Lincoln in a light-hearted portrait of our most literary presidentdrawn from Lincoln's letters, speeches and poetry that portray a witty and wise statesman who speaks to us as if he lives today and understands our most pressing, confusing and amusing concerns. 
 
Script Adaptation by David Houston 

                                        

Lincoln at Cooper Union in New York, 1860

DAVID HOUSTON's leading roles include Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Sir in The Dresser, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Senex in Sondheim's Funny Thing, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace in The Little Foxes and Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens.  He is a published and produced writer of fiction and non-fiction.  His original hour-long plays, including The Last Dance, Great Scott and Zelda, Murder and Madness and Poe, Let's Do It! and The Ghost of Dorothy Parker have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries and schools. Among his 14 published books, his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby was published by St. Martin's Press; and his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon was published by Leisure Books.  His "dramatic readings in the style of radio drama" include the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, Three Short Stories by I.B. Singer, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

 

Scroll down, or leap with these links:

About Abraham Lincoln

Contact and technical information

Scheduled Performances

Music for Interludes and Underscoring

Lincoln photos for publicity

David Houston photos for publicity

Lincoln Lifeline, key dates and events

Sources

Comments and Reviews

About Abraham Lincoln 

From Gore Vidal’s introduction to “Selected Speeches and Writings” Vintage Books, 1992

v      Those who knew Lincoln always thought it a pity there was never a photograph of him truly smiling. 
He liked to laugh.

v      For all practical purposes, Lincoln had no formal education. But he studied law, which meant not only reading Blackstone but brooding over words in themselves and in combination. In those days, most good lawyers, like good generals, wrote prose: if they were not precisely understood, a case or a battle might be lost.

v      Since Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1920, no American President has written his state speeches. [In Lincoln’s day] the President was elected not only to execute the laws but to communicate to the people his vision of the prospect before us. As a reporter to the people, Lincoln surpassed all Presidents.

v      As a lawyer on circuit, he was something of a stand-up comedian, able to keep an audience laughing for hours as he appeared to improvise his stories. Actually, he claimed no originality, saying, “I am a retailer.”

v      Of Lincoln’s contemporaries, William Herndon has given us the most vivid close-up view of the man that he had shared an office with for seventeen years. “He was the most continuous and severest thinker in America. He was very tall, thin and gaunt. When he first began speaking he was shrill, piping, unpleasant; then he gently and gradually warmed up; his voice became melodious, musical if you please; Lincoln’s gray eyes would flash fire when speaking against slavery or spoke hope and love when speaking of liberty, justice, and the progress of mankind.”

Contact 

David Houston
(516) 293-2638 – DH@davidhouston.net

$300 fee includes actor in costume, sound technician, setting, music equipment, and travel 
(Long Island and Queens; to inquire about other locales, contact David Houston); facility is asked
to supply a performance area about 8' x 10' and a clip-on wireless microphone if the space is large; 
running
time is about 60 minutes

Scheduled Performances

Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 2:00 p.m., Bethpage Public Library

Saturday
, May 31, 2014,12:30 pm, East Meadow Public Library
Sunday, February 13, 2011, 2:30 pm, South Huntington Public Library
Thursday, June 23, 2011, 2:00 pm The Town of Hempstead,  Senior Services, Merrick
Sunday January 25, 2009, 2:00 pm, West Islip Public Library
Friday January 30, 2009,  12:15 pm, Port Washington Public Library 
Saturday, February 7 2009, 7:00 pm, The Montauk Library
Sunday, February 8, 3:00 2009,  pm, Huntington Public Library
Tuesday February 10, 2009, 7:00 pm,  Hicksville Public Library
Wednesday February 11, 2009, 1:00 pm, Manhasset Public Library
Wednesday February 11, 2009, 7:30 pm, Emma Clarke Memorial Library, Setauket
Thursday February 12, 2009, 2:30 pm, Freeport Memorial Library
Sunday February 15, 2009, 2:00 pm, Half Hollow Hills Community Library, Dix Hills
Monday February 16, 2009, 2:00 pm, Long Beach Public Library
Wednesday February 18, 2009, 8:00 pm, Towers Country Club, Floral Park (tentative)
Thursday February 19, 2009, 7:00 pm, Franklin Square Public Library
Sunday February 21, 2009, 2:30 pm, Queens Public Library, Forest Hills
Friday February 27, 2009, 7:00 pm, Hillside Public Library, New Hyde Park

Saturday, March 21, 2009, 2:00 pm, Mineola Memorial Library
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7:00 pm, Middle Country Public Library
Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 2:00 p.m., Oceanside Library
Saturday, July 25, 2009, 11:00 am, Uniondale Public Library
Monday, November 2, 2009, 2:00 p.m., Freeport Memorial Library (seniors)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009, noon, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 12:30 p.m., East Meadow Public Library
Tuesday November 4, 2008, 2 pm, Jericho Public Library
Saturday November 8, 2008, 2 pm, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor

Music for Interludes and Underscoring

Morton Gould: American Ballads, Stephen Foster Gallery 
Foster, our first great composer of popular music, died in 1864

Louis Moreau Gottschalk: The Union, The Banjo
From familiar patriotic melodies, composed in 1864 and played for President Lincoln
Aaron Copland: Lincoln Portrait, New England Suite
Composed in 1942 as a contribution to World War II efforts, it uses music from Lincoln's time
(a narrated section features quotations from Lincoln's speeches)

              
Photos for publicity
download or request paper or disk copies

      

   

     

Abe Lincoln in New York, 1860

 

President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

 

       

President-elect Abraham Lincoln, 1860

 

The last photograph of President Lincoln, 1864

 

 

     

David Houston as Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Lifeline

1809

Born near Hodgenville , Ky. , February 12

1812

Brother Thomas born and dies in infancy

1816

Family moves near Pigeon Creek , Indiana ; family lives in shelter until log cabin is built; Abe attends school

1818

Kicked in the head by a horse and is briefly presumed dead

1819

Father rejoins children after several months in Kentucky to wed Sarah Bush Johnston; Abe attends school briefly

1827

Works as boatman and farmhand near Troy , Indiana

1828

Takes first flatboat voyage to New Orleans ; sister Sarah dies in childbirth

1830

Family moves south of Decatur , Illinois ; makes first known political speech, in favor of improving navigation on Sagamon River

1831

Hires on for another flatboat trip to New Orleans; builds his own flatboat; returns to settle as clerk in New Salem, Illinois; accepts challenge to wrestle Jack Armstrong; it’s a draw; studies classics; joins local debating society

1832

Captain in Black Hawk war; unsuccessful candidate for legislature; becomes partner in New Salem general store

1833

Grocery fails; Abe deep in debt

1833

Postmaster of New Salem; becomes deputy surveyor of Sagamon County

1834

Elected as a Whig to Illinois House of Representatives; begins to study law

1835

Death of Ann Rutledge at age 22

1836

Licensed to practice law

1837

Leads successful campaign to move state capitol from Vandalia to Springfield , moves to Springfield ; law partner of John Todd Stuart

1838

Debates Stephen Douglas, who is running for Congress against law-partner Stuart

1839

Practices on new 8th Judicial Circuit; debates Douglas on national bank, meets 21-year-old Mary Todd, cousin of John Stuart

1840

Debates Douglas in supporting William Henry Harrison for President; reelected to legislature; becomes engaged to Mary Todd

1841

Broken engagement to Mary Todd causes depression; successfully argues case in Illinois Supreme Court claiming a promissory note for purchase of a slave was void due to Illinois prohibition against owning slaves

1842

Weds Mary Todd, moves with her into a room in the Globe Tavern

1843

Robert Todd Lincoln born; family moves into a rented cottage

1844

Lincolns move into house in Springfield where they live until 1861

1846

Elected to U.S. House of Representatives; Son Edward born

1848

With family, tours New England for Whig party; serves on War Department, Post Office and Post Roads committees; supports Zachary Taylor for President; votes to prohibit slavery in territory acquired from Mexico

1849

Votes to abolish slave trade in District of Columbia ; declines appointment as governor of Oregon Territory

1850

Son Edward dies of pulmonary tuberculosis; third son, William, born; delivers eulogy of Zachary Taylor in Chicago ; takes up study of geometry

1851

Father dies

1853

Fourth son, Thomas (Tad) born; busy as prosecutor and defense attorney, Abe’s interest in politics wanes

1856

Aids in forming Republican party in Illinois ; makes more than 50 speeches in favor of Republican candidate John Fremont

1857

Delivers major speech against Dred Scott decision; helps prosecute murder case in which defendant is acquitted for reasons of insanity

1858

Is Republicans’ “first and only” for Senate seat held by Stephen Douglas; debates Douglas seven times; delivers “House Divided” speech; wins popular vote; Abe assembles newspaper clippings of debates and major speeches

1860

Delivers speech on slavery and the framers of the Constitution at Cooper Union in New York; clippings of debates and speeches published; Becomes Republican nominee on third ballot; elected first Republican President; South Carolina secedes, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas

1861

Inaugurated 16th president; warned in Philadelphia that he might be assassinated in Baltimore; selects Cabinet of former rivals; Confederates fire on Fort Sumter; appoints George B. McClellan commander of the Army of the Potomac; recommends promotion of Ulysses S. Grant to major general;

1862

Abe relieves McClellan as commander-in-chief and takes direct command; Son William dies in White House of bronchial pneumonia; issues preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, to be effective 1 January 1863

1863

Emancipation Proclamation frees all slaves in Confederate states; introduces military conscription; crucial victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg; delivers Gettysburg Address to audience of nearly 20,000; has mild form of smallpox

1864

Nominated by Republican caucus for second term as National Union candidate; Democrat Andrew Johnson nominated for Vice President; Abe is re-elected by popular and overwhelming electoral vote

1865

Lobbies 13th Amendment through Congress; second inaugural address offers "charity for all"; Lee surrenders; Booth kills Lincoln April 15

Sources  

  • Blaisdell, Bob, ed: Abraham Lincoln: A Book of Quotations, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY 2005
  • Gienapp,William E.: This Fiery Trail: The Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln,  Oxford University Press, New York 2002
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, New York 2005
  • Library of America: Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings, Introduction by Gore Vidal, Vintage Books 1992
  • Humes, James C.: The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, Gramercy Books, New York 1996
  • Thomas, Benjamin P: Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, Barnes and Nobel Books, New York 1952
  • U.S. News & World Report: Secrets of the Civil War, Washington DC, 2008
  • Zall, Paul M., ed: Lincoln on Lincoln, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington 1999 

About Abe Lincoln in the 21st Century 

Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "A compelling portrait of one of our iconic and most beloved Presidents. It was not only tremendously absorbing and beautifully acted, it was also powerfully illuminating. Bravo." Salamah Mullen, Art Exhibit Coordinator, Uniondale Public Library: "The performance was excellent! The audience truly enjoyed themselves. The set was nicely done. So far we were the only library who exhibited the [touring] Lincoln work to have a live performance, Thanks for all you did to make this event a success." Charles Sleefe, Library Director, Mineola Memorial Library: "Excellent. A great addition to our year-long Lincoln celebration." Tauhirah K. Abdussabur, Customer Service Specialist, Forest Hills Community Library, Queens: "Patrons [a full house] stayed through the entire performance; you could hear a pin drop. They clapped and laughed. They  focused on the performer: 'Wonderful!' 'I enjoyed it very much,' 'He's very good.' Many spoke with the Mr. Houston after the presentation and expressed their appreciation."  Karin L. Briller, Librarian (Programming), Franklin Square Public Library: Excellent script and performance. "The people who saw it enjoyed it very much. It's interesting to hear Lincoln's words spoken. The whole stage/set design and music worked fantastically together." Jean Scanlon, Program Director, Freeport Memorial Library: "As usual, David inhabits completely the individual he is portraying; Lincoln was no exception." Emma S. Clark Library, Setauket, Programs: Excellent script, performance, audience response; "A well done performance." Evelyn Pusinelli, Program Coordinator, Hicksville Public Library: Excellent script content, performance; very good audience response; "Mr. Houston always gives a top notch performance.". Christine Langerfeld, President, Friends of the Montauk Library: "An absolute pleasure! I wish all performers were as gifted and easy to work with. The professionalism is evident from the time of booking through the end of the performance. Christopher Kohan, President, Victor D'Amico Institute of Art: "I am writing to say how much I enjoyed your Lincoln talk at the Montauk Library. There can never be enough said about Mr. Lincoln; there is always something new to learn." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent program in celebration of Lincoln's 200th anniversary year; entertaining, surprisingly humorous, and educational." Phyllis Cox, PR/Program Coordinator, Jericho Public Library: "How my patrons love your performances! Thank you again for a wonderful afternoon. You were spectacular as Abe."  Martha Potter, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor: Overall impressions: very good performance and audience response; excellent script and setting. "I love Lincoln's words; they are always meaningful." 

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