TPAC presents interactive courtroom drama based on historic, Civil War trial in Tennessee
One actor performs 10 characters to recreate trial of Dr. Aaron James, accused of guerilla action against Union Army in Dickson County
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Performing Arts Center will present Burden of Justice: 1863, an interactive, gripping courtroom drama based on historical events in Tennessee on Thursday, November 6, at 7:00 p.m. in TPAC’s Andrew Johnson Theater.
Tickets are $8 and are on sale now at TPAC.org or by phone at (615) 687-4288.
Burden of Justice: 1863 is inspired by actual events in Dickson County, Tennessee, during the Civil War. Nashville playwright Carolyn German of TheaterCraft used the original, handwritten transcripts of the legal proceedings to recreate the trial of Dr. Aaron James, accused of guerilla action against the Union Army. The production features Brandon Boyd (Actor’s Bridge Ensemble, Nashville Repertory Theatre), who performs 10 distinct characters at a breathtaking pace. At times during the performance, Boyd stops to engage with the audience, inviting opinions on James’ guilt.
German was commissioned to write the play by the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum in Dickson where it premiered in 2011.
“The first step was to read the source material, about 300 pages of trial transcripts. Then came a challenge that I had not expected – the difficulty in actually reading the pen and ink writing and the sometimes strange letter formations. At times, it was like deciphering a code,” said German, who became increasingly intrigued with the person who penned all those words.
“I became freshly aware that these were real people, real events, in a way that I would not have found if I was reading a typed-out document,” she said. “It was then that I knew that the voice of the story had to be the real ‘voice’ of the transcripts, the clerk who recorded what was spoken. That gave me a real person to craft into a great storyteller and a way to immerse an audience into this historical event that is rich in questions about truth and justice.”
Burden of Justice: 1863 is currently touring to Middle Tennessee Schools through TPAC Education’s Annual Season for Young People. For more information about TPAC Education’s full schedule of performances for student audiences at the arts center and on tour, visit TPAC.org/Education.