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Audience Will Become The Cast At Garfield National Historic Site's Dramatic Reading

Members of the audience will be invited to perform The Trial of Charles Guiteau this Saturday

Though theatrical performances at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site are not unusual, there will be a twist during the premiere of The Trial of Charles Guiteau this Saturday.

The audience will also be the cast.

The show begins at 1 p.m. and audience members in attendance will be selected to read the various parts, including those of the judge, the attorneys, witnesses, and even Guiteau himself.

Those who volunteer or are selected to read a part will be given a copy of the script.

Charles J. Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield -- Mentor's most famous resident -- on July 2, 1881 as Garfield walked through a Washington, D.C. train station.

Garfield survived the shooting but eventually succumbed to his wounds on September 19, 1881 after just six months as president. Guiteau’s trial began in November 1881 and ended in January 1882.

“A readers’ theater production is a very unique way to educate the public about President Garfield’s assassination and the subsequent trial of Charles Guiteau,” said Sherda Williams, the superintendent of James A. Garfield National Historic Site.

“The play teaches a great deal about the shooting itself, Guiteau’s state of mind, and the nineteenth century legal process. We hope the public will have a strong interest in this event since it is so interactive.”

The Trial of Charles Guiteau was written by Joan Kapsch, a guide at James A. Garfield National Historic Site.

Kapsch pored over original testimony given at the trial to produce the one-hour play.

The production may be adapted for use by high school and college drama programs, so anyone interested in such an adaptation may ask for a copy of the script.    

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