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‘The Rivalry’ to premiere next month

By Staff | Oct 27, 2011

HARPERS FERRY – “The Rivalry,” a play about the Lincoln-Douglas debates, is scheduled to be performed in Harpers Ferry and Bolivar in November and December. The production is the second in a series of plays to be produced by the recently organized Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Arts and Humanities Council.

Written and directed by Norman Corwin in 1958 and produced on Broadway and at Ford’s Theater, the play follows the 1858 debate, which turned an obscure Illinois lawyer into a national figure.

Since Bolivar Heights and Harpers Ferry take claim to having the first infantry firefights of the Civil War, five days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, the organizers looked for the most powerful play available to show the origins of the civil war. This performance follows the production of “John Brown’s Body” in 2009. Most historians believe that the election of Lincoln was the most important event to push the Southern states to secede. The play will be directed by local actor-director Joe Yates, who will also play the role of Stephen Douglas. Joel Ziler will play Abraham Lincoln, and Alicia Ziler will play the role of Douglas’ wife Adele.

The dates are Nov. 4, 5, 11 and 12, at the Harpers Ferry Middle School in Bolivar, and Nov. 18 and 19, Dec. 2 and 3, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 898 Washington St. in Harpers Ferry. All performances at 7:30 p.m.

Price of admission is $10, $5 for students and children under 12 get in free.

For reservations call Bob DuBose at 304 535 2009 or email rivalrywv@gmail.com. More information can also be found on Facebook by searching “The Rivalry” or at www.historicharpersferry.com.

The director, Joe Yates, has directed and/or acted in over 75 plays, in Jefferson County, New York and elsewhere. A graduate of Shepherd University, he has served as an adjunct professor teaching drama at the university. Actors Joel and Alicia Ziler are also graduates of Shepherd and have followed their music and drama careers mostly in the local area.

The Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, the Harpers Ferry town government and the Harpers Ferry Historic Town Foundation have assisted in the production of the play.