by Wendel Sloan

Patrick McCreary, instructor of theater and technical director at Eastern New Mexico University, is portraying Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in a one-man show titled “Lincoln and Booth: In Search of Better Angels” at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 24, in the University Theatre Center on the Portales campus.

Suggested donations are $10 and up to benefit ENMU’s new Summer Theater Academy--a week-long day camp for junior high students and a week-long residency camp for high school students.

In the world premiere of “Lincoln and Booth,” McCreary portrays Lincoln in person, and Booth through video, recorded by ENMU’s KENW-TV PBS station, projected onto a screen.  

“Booth fancied himself acting on behalf of the vanquished Confederate government, and held Lincoln responsible for the ills that befell the South,” McCreary said.  “I see parallels between what the two represented and how some people in America today feel that their traditions are being destroyed.”

McCreary says that Lincoln actually saw Booth, a well-respected thespian, in a play and wanted to meet him, but Booth refused because of his hatred for Lincoln.

On the night Lincoln was assassinated, Booth’s co-conspirators had plans to assassinate several top government officials, including the vice president and secretary of state, but failed.  Eventually, Booth was shot to death, and four co-conspirators hanged.

McCreary’s play encompasses decades of Lincoln and Booth’s lives.  His dialogue between the two uses their actual quotes.

Here are excerpts:

"I must have fame, fame!  I must make a name for myself with some prodigious feat. Whatever kind of actor I might be, no one will have the slightest doubt about the presence I bring to the stage.  By the time I turned twenty, this dark-eyed mother’s darling had grown into a figure many called the handsomest man in America.”--Booth

"I am never easy now when handling a thought, till I have bounded it north and bounded it south, and bounded it east and bounded it west.” Lincoln

"I could wish you would prove to the South, with deeds, instead of words, that she shall have those rights which she demands, those rights which are her due. I tell you, Sirs, if the South does not secede,  if she stays in the Union and the abolition principles are not entirely swept away, why we have but smoothed our troubles o’er, which in a few years will burst forth with redoubled horror.”--Booth

“I am willing to accept the continued presence of slavery, rather than risk disunion and the ruin of the American experiment in self-government.”--Lincoln

“Yes, I am able to go everywhere among the Northern armies.  I have free pass, my profession, my name, is my passport…that man came here the other day for Doctor Booth?…All right, I am he if to be a doctor means a dealer in quinine.  I am a spy for the South.  I can move freely among the Union armies gathering intelligence.  I smuggle the precious drug south.”--Booth in a conversation with his sister, Asa

“I claim not to have controlled events but that events have controlled me.”--Lincoln

“I would rather have the applause of a Negro to that of the President. I’ll not go see him.”--Booth upon receiving the invitation to meet the President

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle…”--Lincoln from second inaugural

"Our country owed all our troubles to him and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.”--Booth in a diary following his escape from Ford’s Theatre upon assassinating the President

“I believe men weave in their own lives the garment which they must wear in the world to come.”—Lincoln

For more information, call McCreary at 575-562-2720.


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