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  • Far Appomattox : A Play



Far Appomattox : A Play


Far Appomattox is a play that deals with horrific losses: past, present and future. Primarily taking place in the five days before Lee surrenders his army to Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, the play focuses on the drama inherent in imminent victory, and inevitable defeat. The audience knows who will win and who will lose, but the play tells how the excruciating final hand was played—politically, militarily, and personally. There is an epic quality to Far Appomattox. The set is spare and expressionistic (two ghostly tents appear on each side of the stage representing the union and confederate encampments.) Direct addresses to the audience inform and misdirect. The past and present intertwine. Space and time are permeable. Lee can smell Grant’s foul cigar but cannot recall his visage; Grant is acutely aware of Lee’s mind and military movements, and as the play progresses the men start to hear, then see, one another through the woods of war. Far Appomattox is crafted with exacting historical accuracy. Levering’s research includes private dispatches between Lee and Grant, military maps, eyewitness accounts, as well as period letters and news reports. However, Mr. Levering is not a historian. He is a dramatist. He understands the nature of a play insists on dramatic distillation, invented dialogue and imagined scenes. Finally, all is expressed through the playwright’s particular perspective on what might have been. By adhering to historical facts Levering presents a phantasmagorical view of this crucial event in American history. The truth, it turns out, is complex, contradictory, and surreal. Lee and Grant hold much in common: both graduated from West Point and fought for the Union in the Mexican war; both are married to wives who own slaves and both have sons in battle; both would prefer “annihilation to defeat”; and crucially, both end the war with dignity.

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