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SEDITION Examines Dissent vs. Disloyalty

Lincoln’s Angels Theatre Company presents David Wiltse’s play Sedition at the Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theatre, October 25-28, 2018. The play, set in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1917 and 1918, presents the trial of Professor Andrew Schrag for disloyalty and sedition held at the University of Nebraska’s School of Law.

“A playwright who rattles the way you see things must be doing something right.” –Sylviane Gold, The New York Times’ review of Sedition

Loosely based on the trial of the “Nebraska Sixteen” faculty and staff brought up on these charges, Wiltse asks the audience to explore how loss and/or potential loss of civil liberties impacted individual lives of local citizens, institutions, and the community at large. Schrag, the playwright’s grandfather and professor in the University’s German department, was the son of German immigrants.

Although, Schrag saw no reason for the United States to sacrifice its citizens’ lives and impose a heavy financial burden on the nation in order to defeat a country that offered no threat to the U.S., he was reluctant to become involved in local antiwar protests. This changed, despite the disapproval of his wife and the University’s Chancellor Avery, when one of Schrag’s students was killed in action. The trial in Act II sets Schrag, a man led by his principles, against Megrim, a stand-in for the State Council of Defense, who argues that Schrag’s dissent is disloyalty.

“David Wiltse’s Sedition examines free speech in America during times of war— a subject especially relevant and worthy now.” –Frank Pizzo, Variety

Using the play as a hub of inquiry, post-performance discussions will invite participants into the historical time period, and through its cast of characters see how individuals, institutions, ancillary government agencies, and the Nebraska community came together to deal with complex social and personal issues. Free speech, academic freedom, patriotism, and personal responsibility, often contentious issues of discussion in Nebraska today, one hundred years since the professor’s trial, can be revisited in light of the trial and Wiltse’s play.

David Wiltse’s Sedition, October 25-27 at 7:30 PM & October 28 at 2 p.m. Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theater, Lincoln, NE Tickets may be purchased at www.liedcenter.org or by calling 402-472-4747

Outreach activities surrounding the play are funded in part with a grant from Humanities Nebraska (HN). Created in 1973 as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. HN is an independent non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of public and academic members. HN funds programs that explore Nebraska’s heritage, build community awareness and strengthen our ties to cultural traditions at home and abroad.

Outreach activities include:
• Panel titled “Dignity, Safety, & Free Speech: A Conversation about Freedom of Expression on College Campuses & Beyond.” Wednesday, October 17th, 6:00pm, UNL Student Union Auditorium. Free and open to the public. A panel of UNL students, staff, and faculty as we ask an essential question: “How do we create a safe, dignified, civil learning environment that is consistent with the tenets of free speech?” This panel was created in collaboration with ASUN, the UNL Center for Civic Engagement, and Angels Theater Company. This event is planned in conjunction with the Lied Center season performance: Sedition.
• Lecture titled “Free Speech on Trial in Nebraska: World War I and Now” Tuesday, October 23 – 11:30 AM-1:30 PM, Southeast Community College, 8800 O Street, Rooms U 102-104-106. This lecture presented by Dr. Frank Edler, focuses on the subjects of the play and the fascinating loyalty trial that took place during World War I as eleven professors and one staff member were charged with disloyalty and put on trial by the Board of Regents at the University of Nebraska. Professor of German Andrew D. Schrag, one of the twelve accused of disloyalty and the play’s protagonist, was the grandfather of David Wiltse, the playwright.
• Saturday October 27 – 2 PM at First Plymouth Church. This workshop is free and open to the public. Workshop titled “History, Imagination & Truth” is an interactive workshop where participants will consider the question of how history is viewed through artistic lenses and how it enables people to engage in an event from various points of view. There is limited seating for this workshop. Free tickets can be reserved at www.angelscompany.org

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