What does it mean to be an American?

bankside theatre

America is at a critical time in our history when our founding values are being questioned. When issues of social and racial justice are raging across our land. When we are searching for “the better angels of our natures” as Abraham Lincoln so famously challenged.

From “The Land of Lincoln” this play takes its cue from John Oliver Wilson's book Idea of America: Our Values, Our Legacy, Our Future, and dramatically presents these issues in a compelling dialogue between cast and audience.

Playwright J. C. Steele takes Wilson's treatise and stages the discussion in the fictional world of “The Hall of Legends” – a museum in Washington, D. C. where characters from history come to life. A founding member of Bankside Repertory Theatre Company in Alton, Illinois ( Steele has authored and produced a number of plays, ranging from literary adaptations to original comedies. Those plays have appeared on the stages of Bankside, The Rally Theatre and the Ivanhoe Theatre in Chicago, and the Edinburgh International Fringe Theatre Festival.

Bankside Repertory Theatre in partnership with Principia College Department of Theatre and Dance presented the world premiere of the play on June 2, 3 and 4, 2022. The premiere's connection to the Heart of America appears in its location on the Mississippi River near the site of the seventh and final Lincoln—Douglas senatorial debate of 1858. Downstream from Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain and famous literary characters, and upstream from the embarkation point of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition, the play hears past voices giving insight and direction to the challenges of our future.

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