Washington Stage Guild Wraps Up Season With Richard Strand's Civil War Set BEN BUTLER

Performances begin March 23 - 25 with four Pay-What-You-Can previews and run until April 16, 2023.

By: Feb. 28, 2023
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The Washington Stage Guild closes its 2022-2023 season, a "Season of Transitions," with the area premiere of Ben Butler by Richard Strand, directed by Helen Hayes Award winner Kasi Campbell (The Dazzle, Rep Stage). Performances begin March 23 - 25 with four Pay-What-You-Can previews and run until April 16, 2023 at the Washington Stage Guild's home, The Undercroft Theatre in the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Opening/Press performance is Sunday, March 26 at 2:30 pm.

Union general, Ben Butler, a lawyer before the Civil War, commands a fort in not-yet-seceded Virginia. When a runaway enslaved man named Shepard Mallory arrives making an eloquent plea for sanctuary, whose laws must the general follow? When secession happens, he looks for every loophole he can to avoid returning the young man to the Confederacy. Based on a true story.

"Richard Strand's Ben Butler takes an actual event that took place in not-quite-yet seceded Virginia, and imagines it as a clever duel of wits," says Artistic Director Bill Largess. "With more humor than you might imagine, Strand turns the struggle over the fate of an escaped enslaved man into a suspenseful story in which a Union general, a former lawyer, must find a loophole that allows him to bend the law without breaking it. We're pleased to have director Kasi Campbell returning to the Stage Guild to guide this strong cast."

"The audacious combination of wit and humor with fierce verbal sparring was so unexpected when I read this play whose plot is grounded in an actual Civil War event," says director Kasi Campbell. "While race, politics and inequality fueled bloody conflict on the battlefield, Strand's play confines his combat zone for these issues to four walls and the shared humanity its inhabitants must somehow find. I love those unusual plays that wed laughter with deep import, and I hope audiences will share my enthusiasm for Strand's inventive approach and the play's resonance with current debates."