The America Play


Writers: Suzan-Lori Parks


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Period, Simple/No Set
Time & Place
the Great Hole of History, unspecified time
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Diverse Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, young adult characters


Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks says, “a play is a blueprint of an event: a way of creating and rewriting history.” Through a play, history is born. At a replica of the Great Hole of History, the Foundling Father, calling himself the Lesser Known, impersonates the Great Man Abraham Lincoln. Outfitted with a rocking chair, stove pipe hat, and an assortment of beards the Foundling Father provides tourists the opportunity to play John Wilkes Booth and “assassinate” the president. Between visitors and gunshots, the Foundling Father meditates on the business of history, and how inaccuracies can help tell a more engaging story. Later, at the same replica, his wife Lucy and son Brazil are digging: physically creating a hole in the ground as well as metaphorically searching for evidence of the Foundling Father. The last hours of Lincoln interject into the narrative as the cast of Our American Cousin perform scenes and gunshots ring out. Suzan-Lori Parks’ The America Play is a masterpiece of her Rep & Rev style, as moments are told, retold, revised, and revisited throughout. With her use of historical quotes, intentional misquotes, and folklore, Parks challenges the audience to examine history--and how history is told--and gives us the possibility to write a history that is more inclusive and accurate to the experience of all America.

Lead Characters

The America Play guide sections