UT's Clarence Brown Theatre will host "The Whipping Man" in the Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre beginning this Thursday through Feb. 16.
The play, written by Matthew Lopez and directed by John Sipes, tells the story of a wounded Jewish Confederate soldier who returns home only to find it annihilated and deserted -- aside from two former slaves, also raised in the Jewish faith.
As the war-torn men celebrate Passover, they "uncover a tangle of secrets and grapple with an uncertain future brought on by the end of the Civil War," according to the theatre's website.
Cast member Tramell Tillman is a third-year MFA student at UT. After being approached by Sipes about "The Whipping Man," Tillman read the script and was immediately compelled by it.
"The plot was complex and demanding; the characters were equally so," Tillman said. "I knew after reading that I had to be a part of this project."
Tillman plays a recently-freed slave named John, a character Tillman related to in terms of his search for identity.
"John is smart and sassy during the turn of a monumental moment in U.S. History -- the end of the Civil War," Tillman said. "As the Civil War ends and the slaves have been set free, John wrestles with what to do next and questions his upbringing as a slave in a Jewish home.
"He finds himself asking questions regarding his identity and his past."
The play, which focuses a great deal on dealing with life post-war, also places emphasis on the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Steve Sherman, a first-year graduate student pursuing his MFA in theater, plays Caleb, a Jewish captain in the Confederate army. Wounded from battle, Caleb returns to Richmond and finds his home is not how he left it.
Sherman said the historical importance of the play cannot be overlooked.
"It's about an incredible moment in history, and the play parallels the Jewish holiday of Passover to the freeing of slaves at the end of the civil war," Sherman said. "It's very powerful and has got some heavy subject matter.
"It'll be very engrossing. From the time the lights go on until they go out, people will be on the edge of their seats."
Sherman said the cast has been working on the play since receiving the script in late December. He called the play "powerful" and praised Sipes' directorial prowess.
Both Tillman and Sherman said they hope UT students come out to support the play. When asked what students can anticipate, Tillman said, "Expect to see a dynamic piece of theater.
"This play is about redemption and the responsibility that accompanies freedom," he said. "It will leave audiences with a powerful, memorable experience."
More information on the play and ticket prices can be found online at clarencebrowntheatre.com.