Ford’s Theatre, whose production of acclaimed documentary theater work The Laramie Project fell victim to the government shutdown when the company was booted from its performance space, will be allowed to return to the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site starting tomorrow. The agreement is thanks to a $25,000 donation from billionaire businessman Ronald Perelman.
Although Ford’s Theatre Society is a privately funded nonprofit institution, it shares the use of the Ford’s Theatre site with the National Park Service. The theater is designated as a National Historic Site because President Lincoln was shot there by actor John Wilkes Booth in 1865. During the last government shutdown Ford’s was able to continue hosting performances at the site, but the company was informed that the space would be closed on the day The Laramie Project was supposed to have its opening-night performance.
The company hosted a performance for press in the Woolly Mammoth Theatre rehearsal space and a handful of subsequent shows at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Reports estimated that the move would cost Ford’s Theatre around $100,000 a week in lost ticket revenue. The show was devised by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project in 2000, and delves into the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard and how it affected the small town of Laramie, Wyoming.
Paul Tetreault, the director of Ford’s Theatre Society, met with officials from the National Park Service this weekend and discussed whether the society might be able to use the Ford’s Theatre space if it paid for the operation of the site itself. Similar maneuvers have been made by states to allow national parks to open in Utah, Colorado, New York, and Arizona.
Perelman, who is estimated by Forbes to be America’s 26th richest individual, is chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, as well as founding sponsor of Ford’s Theatre’s Lincoln Legacy Project, an initiative that aims to foster tolerance and civil communication. His personal wealth is estimated at upward of $12 billion.
Ford’s Theatre will present The Laramie Project through October 27. Tickets for all performances are $25. Read our review of the production here.