History Happy Hour: Lincoln’s Assassination and the Untold Story of the Actors & Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre

History Happy Hour: Lincoln’s Assassination and the Untold Story of the Actors & Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre

“Imagine for a moment that the president of the United States has just been murdered in your workplace by one of your most admired and charismatic colleagues, as you stood nearby. Picture the chaos that erupts around you as your mind races, fearing for your own safety and of being thought complicit, recollecting in panic any ill-chosen words you ever uttered that could be construed as hostile to the president, as well as the times you were seen socializing with the assassin-as recently, in fact, as the drink you took with him a few hours ago in the bar next door. From that instant onward, your world would never be the same.”  –Excerpt from Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination by Thomas Bogar


Join Jim Hewes, veteran bartender at the Willard InterContinental, Thomas Bogar, theatre historian and author of Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination, and Sarah Jencks, Director of Education and Interpretation at Ford’s Theatre, as they examine Lincoln’s assassination through the eyes of the forty-six employees working at Ford’s Theatre the night of April 14, 1865. Utilizing previously unpublished sources, hear the riveting accountings of the theatre’s actors, stagehands, and managers from that fateful night, and the chaos that transpired after the fatal shooting of President Lincoln, both at Ford’s Theatre and in the city of Washington, D.C.


How closely was John Wilkes Booth connected to the cast and crew working at Ford’s Theatre that night? Why did John Ford, owner of the theatre, give John Wilkes Booth free access to his theatres? John Ford was imprisoned for thirty-nine days following the assassination. Why? Was Ford’s Theatre a hotbed for spies and seditious plots? How strongly did detectives believe in the theory of backstage complicity? How many of the theatre’s employees were arrested? What was the impact this event had on these 46 employees as well as the theatre itself? What took place in Washington, DC immediately following the shooting? How did the American people learn of Lincoln’s death?  


These are just a few of the many questions to be discussed at the Willard InterContinental’s May History Happy Hour.


Admission includes light appetizers and instruction on learning how to make (3) cocktails.




About History Happy Hour


This exclusive event where “every drink tells a story” welcomes a stellar line-up of political experts, journalists, authors and historians to join The Willard’s legendary bartender, Jim Hewes, in a dynamic session combining education and entertainment. The two-hour program provides attendees with a few of the nation’s most intriguing stories of yesteryear along with a hands-on lesson in the art of mixology. History buffs and cocktail aficionados alike can kick back and experience one of Washington D.C.’s most unique social offerings.




About the Speakers


Thomas Bogar


Thomas A. Bogar taught theatre history, dramatic literature, and theatrical production for forty years, most recently at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and directed over seventy theatrical productions. He holds a Ph.D. in theatre history/literature/criticism from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in play directing, and a B.A. in educational theatre, both from the University of Maryland. In addition to Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination (Regnery History 2013), he is the author of Thomas Hamblin and the Bowery Theatre (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) American Presidents Attend the Theatre (McFarland, 2006), and a biography of 19th-century actor-manager John E. Owens (McFarland, 2002). He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and served as a judge for Washington’s Helen Hayes Theatre Awards. 


Sarah Jencks


As Ford’s Theatre Director of Education and Interpretation, Sarah Jencks oversees all student and teacher programming, as well as history-related web content and museum exhibitions. Sarah has helmed three IMLS grant projects and two from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is most proud of the National Oratory Fellows program, which brings together teachers from across the country to learn from Abraham Lincoln’s great speeches and integrate oratory and performance into their teaching practice. Prior to joining Ford’s, Sarah taught Social Studies, Language Arts, Drama and Visual Art in a variety of K-12 settings. She also oversaw professional development programs for the Center for Arts Education and the New York State Council for the Arts. Sarah holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor’s Degree in American Civilization.

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