A new play about one the country’s most influential Presidents will take place in a space only used by politicians. “Lincoln’s Last Interview” only engagement is on the floor of the Iowa House in the State Capitol. It’s being used as a stand in for the US House of Representatives. The play is set on April 14th, 1865 where President Lincoln and his wife Mary give an interview to a reporter before leaving to see a play at Ford’s Theater.
The hour long play is written and directed by television and movie producer Brent Roske, who moved from California to Iowa last June. Roske says, he wrote it during his first few days in Des Moines.
“How do you take the words of Lincoln, tell a whole story of his life and politics, up until his last interview. And how do you do it with a limited amount of actors because I didn’t want a huge cast. Interview. You interview him. So he gets to ping all these different parts of his life. “
Much of the play focuses on the Civil War, but it also refers to the elections Lincoln lost earlier in his career. Roske says losing an election is something he understands. Last May, he ended a 9 month run for congress in California’s 33rd district.
“A lot of the campaign ideas in the play are when i went through so, does the real Abe Lincoln agree with everything that he’s now saying in this play? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you that there is a… there’s a common truth to being a candidate so. I thought that, that knowledge base was something interesting to put in. And not many people focus on Abraham Lincoln the politician, or the campaigner.”
Actor Matt McIver says playing Lincoln in the House of Representatives gives him inspiration he isn’t able to find in a typical playhouse.
“To say those lines in that room, it helps to give a sense of perspective a sense of history of what the kinds of arguments that we’re having now versus the kinds of arguments they were having then about whether or not the nation would continue.”
A bit of history is being made by “Lincoln’s Last Interview” because it’s the first time a play has ever been performed in the House chamber. Director and writer Brent Roske says he was granted permission to use the space because of the historic subject matter.
“The audience will be sitting in the legislator’s desks. It’s bringing history alive. I honestly… Iowa has opened its doors in more way than one to what I’ve been trying to do so far and I’m grateful and excited.”
There are no more shows planned beyond Saturday afternoon’s one time performance, but Roske says the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has contacted him about the possibility of it coming to Springfield, Illinois.