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L.A. premiere of ‘The Whipping Man’ tells unique post-Civil War story

West Coast Jewish Theatre presents the Los Angeles Premiere of “The Whipping Man” by Matthew Lopez. Directed by Howard Teichman, the production features (in alphabetical order) Kirk Kelleykhan, Ricco Ross and Shawn Savage.

L.A. premiere of 'The Whipping Man.'
L.A. premiere of 'The Whipping Man.'Courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre

It is April, 1865. The Civil War is over and throughout the South slaves are being freed, soldiers are returning home, and in Jewish homes the annual holiday of Passover is being celebrated. Into the chaos of war-torn Richmond, Virginia Caleb DeLeon arrives, a young Jewish Confederate officer who has been severely wounded. He finds his family's home in ruins and abandoned, save for two former slaves who wait in the empty house for the family's return. As the three men wait for signs of life to return to the city they wrestle with their shared past and the reality of the new world in which they find themselves.

Of the 2011 Manhattan Theatre Club production, The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood said, “The Whipping Man" ... is an atmospheric period drama ... that surely has few equals in its arresting strangeness.” And of a 2013 production in St. Louis, the Dispatch proclaimed, “You don’t have to be Black or Jewish, let alone both, to appreciate this provocative drama.”

Lopez was awarded the John Gassner New Play Award from the New York Outer Critics Circle for “The Whipping Man,” and since premiering at Luna Stage in 2006 the play has been produced by over two dozen theatres across the country. “The Whipping Man” premiered in New York in 2010 at Manhattan Theatre Club. Other plays by Lopez include “Somewhere,” “Reverberation,” “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and “The Sentinels.” His newest play, “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” will premiere at the Denver Theatre Center this winter. Lopez currently holds new play commissions from Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Hartford Stage.

“The Whipping Man” previews 8 p.m. Friday, February 7, 2014, opens 8 p.m. Saturday, February 8 and performs 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through April 13. Preview tickets are $20 and regular performances range from $25—$35. Call 323-821-2449 or visit www.wcjt.org.

The Pico Playhouse is located at 10508 W. Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.