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Oval Office occupants meet in new play
by Noreen Cochran
July 23, 2014 12:59 PM | 1933 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Willa Bost, Julius Pryor III and Gene Griessman are in 'Lincoln's Last Debate' at The Village Church in Hapeville.
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Willa Bost, Julius Pryor III and Gene Griessman are in 'Lincoln's Last Debate' at The Village Church in Hapeville.
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Staff / Katherine Frye /
From left, Willa Bost, as press secretary Audrey Warren, Gene Griessman, as President Lincoln, and Julius Pryor III, as President Obama, look forward to the upcoming production of 'Lincoln's Last Debate' at The Village Church.
Staff / Katherine Frye / From left, Willa Bost, as press secretary Audrey Warren, Gene Griessman, as President Lincoln, and Julius Pryor III, as President Obama, look forward to the upcoming production of 'Lincoln's Last Debate' at The Village Church.
slideshow
The modest storefront of the Village Church in Hapeville will make history Saturday and Sunday when it hosts the Atlanta premiere of Gene Griessman’s new play, “Lincoln’s Last Debate.”

Griessman said in a statement, “Sparks fly when Abraham Lincoln visits the Obama White House. There’s sharp, lively debate, hilarious repartee, a-ha moments and surprising revelations.”

The Sandy Springs resident said the material is “grounded in careful historical research, yet fresh as today’s headlines.”

It has its roots in his 2012 book, “Lincoln and Obama,” and Mark St. Germain’s 2010 drama, “Freud’s Last Session” about Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis.

“I have a bigger challenge as a playwright. My characters are separated by 150 years,” Griessman said last week at the church. “Whether Obama dreams, falls into a trance or [enters] a parallel, simultaneous universe is left open as a possibility.”

Willa Bost of Duluth plays President Barack Obama’s press secretary Audrey Warren, who never sees Lincoln but walks in on the 21st-century commander-in-chief’s seemingly one-sided conversations.

Bost said the play’s most compelling aspect is how much common ground the two prominent figures occupy.

“It was so interesting to me the parallels between Obama and Lincoln. It was exciting to find out they had so much in common. Things that were relevant to Lincoln back then are relevant to Obama now,” she said.

Julius Pryor III, who plays Obama, said the material examines issues to which all attendees can relate, channeled through the main characters.

“They both face challenges that we all face from time to time,” he said, “trying to figure out what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s the moral high ground, what do I have to do to get things accomplished, how do I compromise with people who may disagree with me?”

The Fayetteville resident and author of self-help volume “Thriving in a Disruptive World” said he and Griessman met through their publisher, Ahmad Meradji of Alpharetta-based BookLogix.

“One thing led to another and next thing you know, I’m making my debut onstage playing the part of President Obama,” Pryor said. “Interestingly enough, I was on my way to a speaking engagement and someone on the plane said, ‘I thought I was walking past the president.’”

Asked about other stages for the production, Pryor said there was a built-in audience further north.

“I think that the Beltway crowd would love this,” he said.

The Village Church, 3418 Dogwood Drive, Hapeville, will present “Lincoln’s Last Debate” Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and $20 for VIP seating, including a reception at 6 p.m..

Information: (678) 439-5212 or www.brownpapertickets.com

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