The Whipping Man

February 26 — March 23, 2013
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Rose Riordan
“A compelling Civil War-era drama, filled with fine characterization and unexpected moments of humor.” —The New York Times

In the post-Civil War South, three men are tied to each other by history and faith, but are also bound by secrets. A badly wounded Jewish Confederate soldier returns home at war’s end to find that his family has fled to the countryside. Remaining in the city mansion are two former slaves, also raised by his family as Jews. With Passover upon them, the three men unite to celebrate the holiday, even as they struggle to comprehend their new relationships at a crossroads of personal and national history.

The Whipping Man, which premiered in New York in 2011 to great acclaim, is an extraordinary tale of loyalty, deceit and deliverance.

Please note: While The Whipping Man takes place in a harrowing era in American history, the production itself does not depict scenes of violence between slaves and owners.

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon
A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the ticketing section of the website.

The Whipping Man runs approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission.

View the cast and creative team bios.

View the playbill for The Whipping Man.

Learn more about accessibility options at PCS.

Performance Times

Evenings: Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.,
Thursdays at noon

*Note: These are general performance times. Certain productions may have exceptions. View the season calendar for more information.

This show's run time will be posted below the synopsis at left near the date of the first performance.

Production blog

2013 Year in Review

2013 Year in Review

31 December 2013 & Posted by Alice Hodge

It’s that time of year.


One…Two…Three…How Many Interpreters Does it Take?

13 March 2013 & Posted by KatieO

How many interpreters does it take to interpret a show?  Dot Hearn, Portland Center Stage’s ASL Coordinator and Sign Language Interpreter, sheds some light on a question that has no right answer. 


Charge Scenic Artist Erinn McGrew Discusses “The Whipping Man”

11 March 2013 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

Erinn McGrew has been the Charge Scenic Artist here at PCS for almost three seasons. Her most recent project? The set for our production of The Whipping Man. The play takes place at the end of the Civil War in the entryway of the DeLeon mansion in Richmond, Virginia. The home has been badly damaged by a recent fire and subsequent exposure to the elements. We recently asked Erinn a few questions about the process of painting the set and the challenges of creating the damage to the mansion itself.



Art and photos for The Whipping Man. View on Flickr »

Trailer for The Whipping Man. View on Vimeo »

Reviews and Features

Marty Hughley | The Oregonian [Review 19 Mar 2013]

Amid the desolation of the Civil War’s waning days, a newly freed slave has been looting—liberating, he prefers to say—clothing, china, liquor and so forth from the abandoned houses of Richmond, Virginia. And in a brief exchange between a wounded Confederate soldier and the thief, Matthew Lopez’ drama “The Whipping Man,” which opened Friday at Portland Center Stage, lays out what we might call an immoral equivalency: “What’s all this?” “Things.” “Whose?” “Mine now.” “What are you going to do with it?” “Own it.” “Why?” “Because I can.”

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Gigi Little | Ut Omnia Bene Blog [Review 19 Mar 2013]

I was captivated even before The Whipping Man started last night at the Gerding Theater.

Down across the darkened stage, in the little arched window over the front door of the DeLeon house, I could already see the rain. A hint of glitter across the glass. I felt smart for noticing - and then wondered if they’d “turned on” the rain this early just to give people something to feel smart for noticing. As it turned out, the rain was an almost constant element in Portland Center Stage’s production of The Whipping Man, a perfect constant, reminding me of the harshness of the world and the fragile safety of home but also helping create the intense crucible that this particular home was intended to be.

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Rebecca Jacobson | Willamette Week [Review 06 Mar 2013]

From Othello to A Raisin in the Sun, the immediacy of theater has cast a light on race relations. It’s arresting to witness such dynamics live. Last weekend, two plays opened that, on the surface, present similar themes. In Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man, a Confederate soldier and two former slaves grapple with the end of the Civil War. Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot finds half-brothers—one dark-skinned, one fair—navigating apartheid in South Africa. Both take a microcosmic approach, examining family dynamics as a mirror to the broader social climate, and both investigate ownership and freedom. But the treatment could scarcely differ more.

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Jonathan Frochtzwajg | Portland Monthly [Review 06 Mar 2013]

When Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Israelites’ Biblical-times liberation from Egyptian slavery, takes place later this month, Jewish people will not only celebrate freedom, but will reflect on what freedom means—and what responsibilities it comes with. Portland Center Stage’s timely and thoughtful new production, The Whipping Man, is set in the days leading up to Passover, 1865, just after the end of the Civil War. It poses the same fundamental question the holiday does—you’re free: what’s next?—but in a way that finds poetic and profound cross-currents between two moments of emancipation that unfolded centuries apart.

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Bob Hicks | Oregon Arts Watch [Review 05 Mar 2013]

Today a friend passed along that quote from the comedian Louis C.K., and the timing was copacetic: I’d spent the previous two evenings at the openings of Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man” at Portland Center Stage and Athol Fugard’s “Blood Knot” at Profile Theatre. Talk about a soaking in the tricky pools of time! Both plays simmer their audiences in the boiling pot of a past that’s all too recent, and both deal with race as a social invention – we are “white” or “black” partly because we think we are – and also as a blood kinship. It’s tough to view these two plays without seriously disputing the popular notion that we’re living in a postracial society. Without getting too high on a soapbox, both delve into how intensely personal and fiendishly slippery racial attitudes continue to be: they can still jump out and shock us from behind almost any corner.

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