Cuban Theater Digital Archive

The Booth Variations

Play script


The Booth Variations follows the career of American actor Edwin Booth, American actor of international fame, fixture of late-19th century New York City (co-founder of The Players Club), and brother of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Edwin Booth, son and dresser of famous actor Junius Brutus Booth, begins his career with a perfect imitation of his famous father's style. But with his own maturation, and that of the nation, he develops a new style of American ‘naturalism,’ seemingly echoed in a new art form called 'photography'. Drawing on his own personal griefs, he builds a new performative style which draws emotional strength directly from his own life and its parallels to his roles onstage.

Then with his brother John's assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Edwin's public identity is instantly corrupted. Once more he submits his life to theatrical exposition, and in a cathartic production of Hamlet, the nation watches with morbid fascination as the brother of its president’s assassin plots and 'kills the king.' In a Faustian bargain for theatrical immortality, Edwin rides his new fame to its apex as he, just as Hamlet, becomes both minister and scourge. Art is no longer separate from life - the two are now fused together forever.

(Information taken from The Booth Variations website.)

Performances: +

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