Rubicon Theatre Company presents Robert E. Lee - Shades Of Gray

Sep 3, 2013
Robert E. Lee

 Last month marked the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the decisive battles of the Civil War. The anniversaries of the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's Gettysburg address take place over the next few months.

Rubicon Theatre Company commemorates these historic events with the presentation of ROBERT E. LEE - SHADES OF GRAY, a compelling and dramatic portrait of one of U.S. history's most enigmatic figures. Written by and starring Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award-winner TOM DUGAN ("Bones," "Friends," "Curb Your Enthusiasm), who enthralled audiences last year with his portrayal of Simon Wiesenthal at Rubicon, and directed by Artistic Associate JENNY SULLIVAN (original direction by MEL JOHNSON, JR.), ROBERT E. LEE - SHADES OF GRAY examines how the most trusted soldier in the United States Army became the most dangerous man in America. Why did this deeply religious father of seven, who was firmly opposed to slavery and secession, reject Lincoln's offer to lead the Union Army and fight for The Confederacy?

ROBERT E. LEE - SHADES OF GRAY, opens at Rubicon on Saturday, September 7 at 7:00 p.m. and closes on Sunday, September 29 at 2:00 p.m., with low-priced previews starting Wednesday, September 4 at 7:00 p.m. Performances are Wednesdays through Sundays at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura. For tickets and information, go to or call (805) 667-2900.

More about the Play

As the play opens, General Lee waits in an empty room. But he is not alone; posterity sits in judgment. Set just moments before Lee's historic surrender to General Grant, this gripping drama places the audience in the jury box as Lee reflects on the extraordinary circumstances of his remarkable life and his place in history. The son of a disgraced Revolutionary War hero, Robert E. Lee overcame his childhood shame to graduate second in his class at West Point. After raising seven children with his wife Mary, who was the great-granddaughter of George Washington, their home Arlington was confiscated by Federal troops and transformed into a national cemetery. As the country split in two, Lee became a Civil War legend throughout the North and South for his military genius and personal integrity. ROBERT E. LEE - SHADES OF GRAY is a spellbinding American journey that transports audiences from the raging battlefields of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg to Wilmer McClain's front parlor and posterity's verdict on Lee as "patriot" or "traitor."

This one-man drama sheds a sobering light on the gray areas of American history. As Lee hears General Grant's approaching footsteps, he warns against simplifying our nation's story into a comforting novel of good versus evil, saying "Fictionalized history teaches later generations to long for the good old days, which never really were, and to despise the little good that is granted us in this present world."

Cynthia Citron of the Los Angeles Examiner noted, "Tom Dugan brings that devastating period to vibrant life in his tour de force performance," and David Nichols of Backstage West described Dugan as an "imposing talent." ROBERT E. LEE - SHADES OF GREY replaces The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe by Jane Wagner, which was originally scheduled in September and will be shifted to a future season. (Rubicon Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, who was scheduled to appear in the production, has accepted additional administrative responsibilities with the company and will be functioning as CEO).

Says Burns, "We are delighted to welcome Tom back to Rubicon following the sold-out run of Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi Hunter. Tom is an incredible storyteller and a master of the one-person-play genre. What I particularly admire is that his plays, while meticulously researched, are not solely history. Tom's characters take us on very personal, very human journey and his plays are dramatically fulfilling - thrilling really."
More on Robert E. Lee

Born on January 19, 1807 in Stratford, Virginia, ROBERT E. LEE came to military prominence during the U.S. Civil War. He commanded his home state's armed forces and became general-in-chief of the Confederate forces by the end of the conflict.

Despite his personal desire for the country to remain intact and the fact that President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee command of a Union Army, he chose to follow his home state after it declared secession from the Union in 1861. Lee originally served as a senior military advisor to President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War and soon emerged as a sharp strategist and battlefield leader. Under his command, numerous battles were won against far more advanced Union armies. Many military historians praise his abilities as a tactician. Despite this, two major offensives into the North ended in defeat.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant's campaigns advanced on the Confederacy in 1864 and 1865, inflicting heavy casualties. Lee ultimately surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Reconciliation between the two sides was called for by Lee as other confederate forces swiftly folded after his surrender.

Following the war, as President of what is now called Washington and Lee University, Lee supported President Andrew Johnson's program of Reconstruction and intersectional friendship. Meantime, he opposed the Republican proposals to give freed slaves the right to vote while taking the right away from ex-Confederates. He urged them to rethink the reintegration of former Confederates into the nation's political life, and their position between the North and the South. Lee became a postwar icon of the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy," a great Southern hero to many. His popularity also grew in the North, even after his death in 1870.

About the Playwright/Actor

TOM DUGAN has emerged as the bright new voice of one-person shows in America during the past ten years. Oscar to Oscar, Frederick Douglass in the Shadow of Slavery and Wiesenthal have received high praise from critics. As a professional actor in L.A. for over 25 years, Dugan's TV and film credits include "Bones," "Friends," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Practice," "Chicago Hope," "Just Shoot Me," "Kindergarten Cop" and "Dave." His regional theatre credits include leading roles in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Misery, Amadeus and Dublin Carol. He also starred in National Tours of On Golden Pond with Jack Klugman and continues to tour in his own shows. Last summer, Tom portrayed Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Theatre 40's celebrated production of Black Coffee.

About the Director

JENNY SULLIVAN is Rubicon Theatre Company's first Artistic Associate. Her World Premiere production of The Baby Dance began at Pasadena Playhouse and then moved to Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics' Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Theatre Off-Broadway. She spent six seasons at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she directed MACS (A Macaroni Requiem), Defying Gravity, Hotel Oubliette, Dirt and The Ferry Back. Other regional credits include work with the Royal Manitoba Theater Centre, San Jose Rep and Access Theatre.
Sullivan was Associate Director for the L.A. production of The Vagina Monologues and also directed premieres of Ad Wars with David Dukes and Stephanie Zimbalist, The Cat's Meow with Joseph Fuqua, The Awful Grace of God: A Portrait of RFK, and Bicoastal Woman.

Sullivan has helmed numerous productions at Rubicon, including recent productions of Our Town, Steel Magnolias with Bonnie Franklin and Stephanie Zimbalist, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Joe Spano, You Can't Take It With You (Indy Award), Hamlet (Indy Award), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Tuesdays with Morrie with Harold Gould. Rubicon produced the World Premiere of Jenny's play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late great John Ritter. The production subsequently played at the Court Theatre in L.A. Film credits include "Access All Areas" and "The Next Best Thing" (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry).