Speak of the Devil: A Comedy-Drama About Robert Ingersoll

Monday, January 31st 2011 at 8:00 pm
Monday, January 31st 2011 at 10:00 pm
The Players 16 Gramercy Park (aka, 20th Street, east of Park Avenue South)

A classic play about nineteenth-century agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) will be performed in a staged reading one night only at 8:00 p. m. on Monday, January 31, 2011, at New York City’s famous arts club, The Players. Speak of the Devil , by the late playwright Richard Stockton, is a lively full-length comedy-drama about Ingersoll, “the Great Agnostic,” and the terrible cost of candor for the most outspoken man of his time.

Admission is free but reservations are required. To reserve, telephone The Players at 212-475-6116 during business hours Eastern time.

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Rich with native wit, robust humor, love of family and drama, Speak of the Devil dramatizes the extraordinary courage of Robert Green Ingersoll who – at extreme risk to himself – would not put a padlock on his tongue nor shackles on his brain for any man. He was publicly attacked as an “atheist,” “heretic,” and “blasphemer.” Probably the best-known American of the Gilded Age, Ingersoll is nearly forgotten today – so much so that at his birthplace museum in Dresden, New York, he is introduced to curious visitors as “the most remarkable American you never heard of.”

The performance will be directed by the noted director Robert Kalfin and will star a slate of professional actors to be announced. Robert Kalfin is founder of New York's Chelsea Theatre Center (winner for its work of five Tony Awards, four Tony nominations and 21 Obie Awards). He has directed more than 200 productions and workshops of new plays, musicals and the classics in venues on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in major American regional theaters, in Europe, the Middle East and as far abroad as Siberia.

The Players, housed in a Greek Revival townhouse facing Gramercy Park, is a historic club founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, America's pre-eminent Shakespearean actor, and 15 other incorporators including Mark Twain and General William Tecumseh Sherman. Modeled after London's famed Garrick Club, The Players was the first American club of its kind. Its purpose: "The promotion of social intercourse between members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, architecture, sculpture and music, law and medicine, and the patrons of the arts..." The Players is located at 16 Gramercy Park, which is actually 20th Street east of Park Avenue South. To present a play about Ingersoll on Gramercy Park is doubly appropriate because Gramercy Park was also the site of Ingersoll’s residence during the years he lived in New York City.

The performance is co-sponsored by the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, a project of the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry | Washington, D. C.