Tuesday, June 26, 2012

David Selby makes first professional stage appearance at Abraham Lincoln, 1968

Washington Post photo
David Selby was an old-hand at playing Abraham Lincoln by the time he made his first professional stage appearance as the president in 1968. Selby, then 27 years old, had portrayed the president in two college plays in 1965 before making his first professional bow as Lincoln in George Herman's Mr. Highpockets in 1968.

Selby was briefly quoted in a 1968 newspaper feature about Mr. Highpockets, and mentioned he'd eventually like to stage a one-man performance of Abraham Lincoln. Selby would go on to play the president in numerous stage and television appearances, most recently at Ford's Theater in productions of The Heavens Are Hung in Black and Necessary Sacrifices.

Actor returns to play Lincoln once again
Southern Illinoisan, July 10, 1968
By Ben Gelman

David' Selby, who played the part of Abraham Lincoln in two Southern Illinois' University theater productions as a graduate student, returns to SIU this week as a professional actor to play the title role in a new Lincoln play, "Mr. Highpockets."

"Mr. Highpockets" is the winner in a $4,500 drama contest staged by SIU. It will have its world premiere tonight and will run through Friday at the SIU Theater. In 1965 Selby played Lincoln in "Prologue to Glory" and "Last Days of Lincoln" at the Kelso Hollow Theater, New Salem, where SIU has been presenting outdoor summer theater for many years.

Physically, Selby is ideal for the part of Lincoln. He has a shock of black hair,  craggy features, grayblue eyes and his 180 pounds are carried on a gangling 6'3" frame. Selby is a native of Morgantown, W. Va., and holds bachelor's and master's  degrees from the University of West Virginia.

His bachelor's degree is in business, but somewhere along the line he discovered his real interest and took the graduate degree in theater. Although he has not taught theater, he has completed his course work toward a doctoral degree, much of it at SIU. During his stay at SIU in 1965, Selby also played the Clarence Barrow role, Henry Drummond, in "Inherit the Wind."

Since leaving SIU, Selby has been a professional actor. Although be has not played Lincoln — "they only do Lincoln plays in Illinois these days," he said — he has a wide variety of professional roles in stock companies; the Cleveland Playhouse, a repertory company; an off-off-Broadway production in the East Village, New York; in "The Impossible Years," with Sam Levene; and in the Equity Master Theater production of "Yes, My Darling Daughter."

He is very much interested in Lincoln, and has read extensively about the Civil War president.

"Some day, I would like to do a one-man show as Lincon, something like Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain," he said.

Meanwhile, he is deep in rehearsals "for "Mr. Highpockets," a fantasy about Lincoln's long acquaintance with the nearness of death and its influence on his career. Highpockets and death — or Dr. Stygian Sticks, as  portrayed in the play — have some dramatic confrontations in the play.

The drama also has its lighter moments as Lincoln regales "Doc" Sticks with Kentucky and Illinois stories. Selby will have ample opportunity to exercise his professional talents in "Mr. Highpockets," which presents Lincoln from the time he was 22 to. his last years as President.

1 comment:

Sandi McBride said...

I loved the new character Quinton Collins from his first appearance in Dark Shadows...he brought the character alive with his fine acting. This is still one of my favorite all time shows.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...