‘Whipping Man’ debuts: Play takes viewers back in to civil war era


The Collegian interviews Donna Marie, director of “The Whipping Man,” and fellow actors Denmark Ves and Larry Lee Roberson.

Q: Give us a preview about your play?
“The Whipping Man” by Matthew Lopez is a story set in 1865 right after the ending of the Civil War. Two former slaves who are at a ram shacked war-torn home. As Caleb DeLeon capital de Leon, a Jewish confederate soldier comes home from the war to find another reason why they’re at the house and they’re hiding out or waiting on something and as they continue to throw up and have the festival preside they begin to have conversations and uncover layers and layers of tissue.

Q: So there’s a typical reason you picked this script to be the play?
You know that TOASTCO, Telling Our Authentic Stories (Theater Company) is all about keeping the stories of people of color alive through theater and performance arts. I was asked to read through material. We continue to strive to tell stories that are pointed that are under told or under-represented in mainstream theater.

Q: “The Whipping Man,” how did you get tied up into it?
So I got a call from the great director Donna Marie, and she asked if I was available and maybe perhaps interested in playing the role. And she told me a little bit about the play and the characters and I felt that this was a role that I can definitely grab a hold of since this character is a lot like myself.

Q: Was this a challenge for you?
It was definitely a challenge because there were so many different ways I could play the kids, and I want to do him justice. There was a lot going on at this time, and the character I play is a newly free as a free man. He’s young and he’s super excited and he’s got a lot of ideas.

Q: So how do you feel in this era and the wardrobe?
When you put the clothes on, it sometimes feels like the character your playing just takes over. It’s like I’m really becoming this guy and I really want to do him justice. We know we’re doing a period piece and this is a period piece back in the eighteen hundreds. Putting on these clothes makes it even more realistic. Yeah, anytime that I dress in a period Piece it makes things real cool.

Q: What era is this play taking place?
“During the Civil War, well, right at the very end of the Civil War. One thing that’s very important is that I’m in the Jewish Home, so we actually like slaves. We have embraced the Jewish religion, and so we dealing with the death of Abraham Lincoln, witnessing who had a lot of love for.” Said Roberson Q: What’s the message of the play?
Roberson: I think the main message is absolutism; speaking Hebrew in an embrace the Hebrew religion is very spiritual religion. “The Whipping Man” will be opening for show today at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10. The location is on 230 E. Fremont Street in Stockton at the Old Fidelity Hall.