Abraham Lincoln’s Last Murder Case Drama Held In Museum

My daughter is performing in this local historical drama.

Press release shared w/ permission.

Museum to Host Lincoln Courtroom Drama

BLOOMINGTON, ILL. – The McLean County Museum of History, in partnership with Illinois Voices Theatre, will present The Affray: Lincoln’s Last Murder Case. The play is an original dramatization of Abraham Lincoln’s successful defense of Peachy Quinn Harrison, a young Springfield resident who was accused of the murder of Greek Crafton. The trial took place just months before Lincoln accepted the Republican nomination for the presidency.

The play will be presented in the historic Governor Fifer Courtroom at the Museum, located at 200 N Main St. in Bloomington, Ill., July 15, 16, and 17. This program is supported in part by the Heritage Association of McLean County and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of McLean County.

Robert Bray and Jared Brown fashioned the script based on surviving testimony from the transcript of the trial. The Affray, written in six scenes, reproduces some elements of the trial accurately but in some cases relies on what probably occurred. The play also poses the question:  Will Lincoln introduce the testimony of a venerable preacher which may be a lie? The cast of ten, who portray an array of characters, will vividly conjure up the atmosphere of a tense trial which will be staged in the Museum’s Courtroom.

There will be three performances of the trial: Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 17 at 1 p.m. Robert Bray will lead a discussion of the actual Harrison trial immediately following the Sunday matinee performance.

The opening night performance on Friday, July 15, will be a special museum fundraiser, and tickets are $25 per person. Those who purchase tickets for the Friday opening night performance will also receive a free special, limited-edition Abraham Lincoln autobiography poster. Proceeds from opening night ticket sales will go to support free Museum educational programs for area schools and nursing homes. Special guest Sam Perroni will offer a short introduction about Lincoln’s career as a trial lawyer before the play. Perroni is a trial lawyer and author of the book, Kind Eyes, a novel inspired by the Peachy Harrison case. Copies of his book will also be for sale following the performance with proceeds donated to the Museum.

Tickets for the performances on Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17, are priced at $10 for Museum members and $12 for non-members.

Jared Brown, former director of the School of Theatre Arts at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, is the author of six published books, including four biographies of individuals in theatre or film; a history of the theatre in America during the revolution; and a novel. His most recent book is Mind the Gap and 2 Other Mysteries. He directed his evening of three one-act plays, Three for the Show, at Heartland Theatre in November 2010. He has also written a number of episodes for the Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk and performed in one of them.

Robert Bray is the R. Forrest Colwell Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University. A native of Kansas, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has focused his work on 19th century American literature and history. His most recent scholarly works are a 2005 biography of the frontier Methodist preacher, Peter Cartwright in (Cartwright was Peachy Quinn Harrison’s grandfather), and Reading with Lincoln in 2010. He is the co-author of one previous play, Lincoln’s in Town! produced for the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.

Sam Perroni, a native of Bloomington-Normal, is a former Arkansas criminal defense attorney and federal prosecutor. He is currently an adjunct professor of white collar crime at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and is of counsel with the law firm of Perroni and Koebler. He has published several works for various law journals and books throughout his career. He has also had a lifelong interest in Lincoln’s legal career, which inspired him to publish the novel Kind Eyes in 2009.

Ticket may be reserved in advance at the Museum or purchased at the door the day of each performance. Seating is limited.

For more information or to reserve tickets, contact the Education Department at (309) 827-0428 or via e-mail at education@mchistory.org.




image by karen hanrahan



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