Free audio play from Ford’s features Lincoln–Douglass faceoff

Performed by acclaimed actors Craig Wallace and Paul Morella, a timely debate about America's founding ideals of equality and freedom.

An audio drama adaptation of Richard Hellesen’s Necessary Sacrificesfeaturing acclaimed Washington actors Craig Wallace as Frederick Douglass and Paul Morella as Abraham Lincoln—can be listened to for free through May 30, 2021, on the Ford’s Theatre website.

Commissioned by Ford’s Theatre, Necessary Sacrifices explores the two documented encounters between Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln during a period of national crisis. During the summers of 1863 and 1864, Douglass challenges Lincoln to use his power as president to bring truth to America’s founding ideal that “all men are created equal.” 

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Necessary Sacrifices is directed by Psalmayene 24 and includes original music, sound design and audio production by John Gromada. The running time is 80 minutes.

Although we are unable to be back in the theater this spring, we are thrilled to provide the audio drama of Necessary Sacrifices to a national audience,” said Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault. “Frederick Douglass respected Abraham Lincoln but was highly critical of Lincoln’s slowness on taking key actions toward equality and emancipation. Lincoln, though morally opposed to slavery, was unsure how to legally end it and what to do once it was ended. The play shows how these two men came together and debated, disagreed, and ultimately found common ground. As our nation confronts deep political divisions, and we rise to answer calls for equity and justice for Black Americans, I hope this play inspires audiences to listen as Lincoln did and to agitate for change like Douglass.” 

“Audio is the perfect medium for the story of two remarkable leaders whose significant use of language and discourse shaped America at a tumultuous time,” said director Psalmayene 24. This play deals with hefty themes of war, slavery, politics, justice, and freedom—but undergirding these themes is the relationship between two men who are confronted with their perceptions of who the other man is and the truth of who they really are. It is about their friendship, and the transformational leadership that laid the groundwork to move America toward a new birth of freedom.”

Paul Morella plays Abraham Lincoln and Craig Wallace plays Frederick Douglass in ‘Necessary Sacrifices’ from Ford’s.

Playwright Richard Hellesen’s previous works for Ford’s Theatre include Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, One Destiny, Investigation: Detective McDevitt, and The Road from Appomattox, four gripping and insightful explorations of critical moments in Civil War history. 

Necessary Sacrifices is made possible with support from Lead Sponsors: ConocoPhillips and Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Sponsors: The Home Depot, KPMG LLP, Raytheon Technologies and Siemens Corporation. The Ford’s Theatre 2021-2022 season is sponsored by Chevron.


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