A few weeks ago, my family and I went to Ferdinand, Indiana for my brother-in-law’s wedding. We stretched our trip into several days so we could make a mini-vacation of it. One thing I definitely wanted to do was to see “LINCOLN: Upon the Altar of Freedom” in the aptly named Lincoln Amphitheater at Lincoln State Park.
The park itself is lovely. We arrived early and drove around a bit, getting out to wander a few trails. I’d love to show you pictures of it, but I didn’t think to take my camera out of the car!
When it was close to 6pm, we drove over the the Amphitheater where Communications Director Brandi Weyer had arranged for the whole family to not only see the show, but also to try out the pre-show dinner which is catered picnic-style by the Black Buggy Restaurant. Because it was vacation, we opted for the fried chicken. Dinner also came with green beans, rolls, cake and a drink.
While people were gathered for dinner, several costumed and in-character actors provided entertainment. There was a group who was playing period-specific games with children. One of the games looked a bit like “red light, green light.” There were wood carvers and men playing the fiddle, the spoons and singing. And there was a group of “slaves” from the performance who were singing spirituals. All of these helped to set the tone for the play.
Soon enough, it was time for the performance to begin. “LINCOLN: Upon the Altar of Freedom,” which was written by playwright Ken Jones, opens with John Wilkes Booth shooting the President at Ford’s Theater. What follows is Lincoln’s spirit wrestling with staying on earth to finish his job as President or giving up with knowledge that he’d done everything he could. (All photos courtesy of Lincoln Amphitheater).
The play very effectively moves back and forth between Lincoln’s boyhood years in Indiana and his later life as President of the United States. The importance of his mother and sister to him is made clear, as is the influence what he learned from his father had on his later years.
For a play that does not have a surprise ending (I’ll tell you now: He dies.), the performance was captivating. It made me want to read more about Lincoln the man.
Most of my family really enjoyed the show as well. The only one who didn’t was my 7-year old son. First, I think the story moved a little too quickly for him to understand it. Second, there is a fair amount of gunfire that is quite loud and somewhat unexpected.
I ended up having to take him out of our seats in the amphitheater. While I was standing in the back, an usher came over and assured him “That’s all the shooting; there’s no more.” Then he told me there is a cry room for small children and their parents. That was wonderful — not only did it offer some protection from the loud noises (you could still hear the dialogue), but it was air conditioned!
If you’re feeling a bit like me, wondering “where did the summer” go as the countdown to school starting rushes on, treat yourself to a moving performance in a beautiful venue. Shows run nightly through August 7. No shows on Mondays. Purchase tickets online, at the door or by calling (812) 937-9730.