An immersive theater work that delves into the sibling rivalry between John Wilkes and Edwin Booth
Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers BoothThe Players Club (16 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY) Map it $75
Stageworks Media is pleased to announce Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth by Cynthia von Buhler. A new chapter to Ms. von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, which has over the past two years become one of the city's most unique, interactive, and surreal theatre experiences, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth brings von Buhler's unique brand of immersive theater to the legends of John Wilkes and Edwin Booth. Directed by Wes Grantom (Eager to Lose at Ars Nova), Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth will play monthly performances (on the first Saturday of the month) at The Players Club (16 Gramercy Park South) beginning in March 2014. For more information, visit www.speakeasydollhouse.com
Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth is an immersive time-traveling theatrical experience, set in the renowned Players Club -- the former home of Edwin Booth -- which explores the sibling rivalry between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth. Set in 1919, the various characters presented in Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth include John Drew (the then-president of The Players Club) and John Singer Sargeant, as well as the ghosts of Edwin and John Wilkes Booth. Like the original, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth also features live jazz, moonshine and burlesque.
According to Speakeasy Dollhouse creator Cynthia von Buhler, "My research on the Booth family has led me to believe that Abraham Lincoln was murdered as a result of sibling rivalry, and not because of John Wilkes' love of the confederacy. Edwin Booth, a staunch Lincoln supporter, was honored by the president -- and even saved Lincoln's son Robert from being crushed by a train shortly before the president's assassination. Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth encourages audiences to roam Edwin Booth's former mansion in search for the truth. Utilizing Shakespearean themes, longtime conspiracy theories, and surreal vignettes, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth weaves together a story of the brothers' troubled lives."
Artist and author Cynthia von Buhler is the creator of Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, (tickets are also available for this show here on Brown Paper Tickets) an immersive theatrical hit that explores the murder of von Buhler's Italian immigrant grandfather, Frank Spano. A speakeasy owner, Spano was shot and killed on a Manhattan street in 1935. Though the shooter was caught, his case was inexplicably dismissed, leaving the question of motive forever unanswered. Long haunted by the mystery, von Buhler, whose mother was born the day her grandfather died, began interviewing family members about the killing and scouring autopsy reports, police records, and court documents. Inspired by a 1940s investigative technique called "nutshell studies," von Buhler first recreated the crime scene in an elaborate dollhouse diorama (which can be explored on location during each performance). Von Buhler brought her miniature set to life in Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, which was first intended to be a one-night theatrical staging (via a successful Kickstarter campaign). It has since become a hot underground theater ticket, going from monthly performances to weekly performances as it consistently sold out, and extended its run repeatedly over the past two years.
Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth is the first show of its kind to be staged at The Players Club, which was founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, America's pre-eminent Shakespearean actor, and 15 other incorporators (including Mark Twain and General William Tecumseh Sherman). Located in a Greek Revival townhouse facing historic Gramercy Park, modeled after London's famed Garrick Club, The Players was the first American club of its kind. Its purpose: "The promotion of social intercourse between members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, architecture, sculpture and music, law and medicine, and the patrons of the arts . . ." Today, leaders from a variety of professions in the arts, business, and commerce enjoy The Players' unique spirit of conviviality and discourse. Edwin Booth's bedroom remains on a top floor of the club, undisturbed since his passing in 1893. 2014 marks the 125th anniversary of The Players Club.