The America Play

by

Suzan-Lori Parks

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The America Play can help.
Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of The America Play published in 1994.
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Act 1: Lincoln Act Quotes

“In the beginning, all the world was America.”

Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

A great hole. In the middle of nowhere. The hole is an exact replica of The Great Hole of History.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

“He digged the hole and the whole held him.”

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

There was once a man who was told that he bore a strong resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He was tall and thinly built just like the Great Man. His legs were the longer part just like the Great Mans legs. His hands and feet were large as the Great Mans were large. The Lesser Known had several beards which he carried around in a box. The beards were his although he himself had not grown them on his face but since he’d secretly bought the hairs from his barber and arranged their beard shapes and since the procurement and upkeep of his beards took so much work he figured that the beards were completely his. Were as authentic as he was, so to speak. His beard box was of cherry wood and lined with purple velvet. He had the initials “A.L.” tooled in gold on the lid.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Related Symbols: The Lincoln Beards
Page Number: 159-160
Explanation and Analysis:

“You sockdologizing old man-trap!”

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

Emergency oh, Emergency, please put the Great Man in the ground.”

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Mary Todd Lincoln (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

Everyone who has ever walked the earth has a shape around which their entire lives and their posterity shapes itself. The Great Man had his log cabin into which he was born, the distance between the cabin and Big Town multiplied by the half-life, the staying power of his words and image, being the true measurement of the Great Mans stature. The Lesser Known had a favorite hole. A chasm, really.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

On the way home again the histories paraded again on past him although it wasnt on past him at all it wasnt something he could expect but again like Lincolns life not “on past” but past. Behind him. Like an echo in his head.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History, Echoes
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

The Lesser Known had under his belt a few of the Great Mans words and after a day of digging, in the evenings, would stand in his hole reciting. But the Lesser Known was a curiosity at best. None of those who spoke of his virtual twinship with greatness would actually pay money to watch him be that greatness. One day he tacked up posters inviting them to come and throw old food at him while he spoke. This was a moderate success. People began to save their old food “for Mr. Lincoln” they said. He took to traveling playing small towns. Made money. And when someone remarked that he played Lincoln so well that he ought to be shot, it was as if the Great Mans footsteps had been suddenly revealed.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

(A Man, as John Wilkes Booth, enters. He takes a gun and “stands in position": at the left side of the Foundling Father, as Abraham Lincoln, pointing the gun at the Foundling Father’s head)
A MAN: Ready.
THE FOUNDLING FATHER: Haw Haw Haw Haw
(Rest)
HAW HAW HAW HAW
(Booth shoots. Lincoln “slumps in his chair." Booth jumps)
A MAN (Theatrically): “Thus to the tyrants!”
(Rest)
Hhhh. (Exits)

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln (speaker), John Wilkes Booth (speaker)
Page Number: 164-165
Explanation and Analysis:

The Great Man lived in the past that is was an inhabitant of time immemorial and the Lesser Known out West alive a resident of the present. And the Great Mans deeds had transpired during the life of the Great Man somewhere in past-land that is somewhere “back there” and all this while the Lesser Known digging his holes bearing the burden of his resemblance all the while trying somehow to equal the Great Man in stature, word and deed going forward with his lesser life trying somehow to follow in the Great Mans footsteps footsteps that were of course behind him. The Lesser Known trying somehow to catch up to the Great Man all this while and maybe running too fast in the wrong direction. Which is to say that maybe the Great Man had to catch him. Hhhh. Ridiculous.

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Page Number: 170-171
Explanation and Analysis:

LINCOLN
BOOTH
LINCOLN
BOOTH
LINCOLN
BOOTH
LINCOLN
BOOTH
LINCOLN

Related Characters: The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln (speaker), John Wilkes Booth (speaker)
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2: The Hall of Wonders Quotes

A gunshot echoes. Loudly. And echoes.

Related Characters: Lucy, Brazil, The Foundling Father
Related Symbols: Echoes, The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part A: Big Bang Quotes

Dig on, son. —. Cant stop diggin till you dig up somethin. You dig that something up you brush that something off you give that something uh designated place. Its own place. Along with thuh other discoveries. In thuh Hall of Wonders. Uh place in the Hall of Wonders right uhlong with thuh rest of thuh Wonders hear?

Related Characters: Lucy (speaker), Brazil
Related Symbols: The Wonders
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

BRAZIL: [We’re from out East. We’re not from these parts.
(Rest)
Mv foe-father, her husband, my Daddy, her mate, her man, my Pa come out here. Out West.
(Rest)
Come out here all uhlone. Cleared thuh path tamed thuh wilderness dug this whole Hole with his own 2 hands and et cetera.
(Rest)
Left his family behind. Back Last. His Lucy and his child. He waved “Goodbye.” Left us tuh carry on. I was only 5.
(Rest)]
My Daddy was uh Digger. Shes whatcha call uh Confidence. I did thuh weepin and thuh moanin.
(Rest)
His lonely death and lack of proper burial is our embarrassment.

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), The Foundling Father, Lucy
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 178-179
Explanation and Analysis:

LUCY: That iduhnt how it went.
BRAZIL: Oh.
LUCY: Thuh Mr. Washington me and your Daddy seen was uh lookuhlike of thuh Mr. Washington of history-fame, son.
BRAZIL: Oh.
LUCY: Thuh original Mr. Washingtonssbeen long dead.
BRAZIL : O.
LUCY: That Hole back East was uh theme park son. Keep your story to scale.
BRAZIL: K.
(Rest)
Him and Her would sit by thuh lip uhlong with thuh others all in uh row cameras clickin and theyud look down into that Hole and see—ooooo—you name it. Ever-y-day you could look down that Hole and see—ooooo you name it. Amerigo Vespucci hisself made regular appearances. Marcus Garvey. Ferdinand and Isabella. Mary Queen of thuh Scots! Tarzan King of thuh Apes! Washington Jefferson Harding and Millard Fillmore. Mistufer Columbus even. Oh they saw all thuh greats. Parading daily in thuh Great Hole of History.

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), Lucy (speaker), The Foundling Father
Related Symbols: The Great Hole of History
Page Number: 179-180
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part C: Archaeology Quotes

BRAZIL: You hear im?
LUCY: Echo of thuh first sort: thuh sound. (E.g. thuh gunplay.)
(Rest)
Echo of thuh 2nd sort: thuh words. Type A: thuh words from thuh dead. Category: Unrelated.
(Rest)
Echo of thuh 2nd sort, Type B: words less fortunate: thuh Disembodied Voice. Also known as “Thuh Whispers.” Category: Related. Like our Fathuhs.
(Rest)
Echo of thuh 3rd sort: thuh body itself.
(Rest)
BRAZIL: You hear im.
LUCY: Cant say. Cant say, son.
BRAZIL: My faux-father.

Related Characters: Lucy (speaker), Brazil (speaker), The Foundling Father
Related Symbols: Echoes, Whispers
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Uh Hehm. Uh Hehm. WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME TUH THUH HALL OF —

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), Lucy
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part E: Spadework Quotes

BRAZIL: We could say I just may follow in thuh footsteps of my foe-father.
LUCY: We could say that.
BRAZIL: Look on thuh bright side!
LUCY: Look on thuh bright side!
BRAZIL: So much tuh live for!
LUCY: So much tuh live for! Sweet land of—! Sweet land of—?
BRAZIL: Of liberty!

Related Characters: Lucy (speaker), Brazil (speaker), The Foundling Father
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

1 couldnt never deny him nothin.
I gived intuh him on everything.
Thuh moon. Thuh stars.

Related Characters: Lucy (speaker), The Foundling Father, Brazil
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part G: The Great Beyond Quotes

BRAZIL: Mail the in-vites?
LUCY: I did.
BRAZIL: Think theyll come?
LUCY: I do. There arc hundreds upon thousands who knew of your Daddy, glorified his reputation, and would like to pay their respects.
THE FOUNDLING FATHER: Howuhboutthat.

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), Lucy (speaker), The Foundling Father (speaker), Abraham Lincoln
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

To my right: our newest Wonder: One of thuh greats Hisself! Note: thuh body sitting propped upright in our great Hole. Note the large mouth opened wide. Note the top hat and frock coat, just like the greats. Note the death wound: thuh great black hole — thuh great black hole in thuh great head. —And how this great head is bleedin. —Note: thuh last words. —And thuh last breaths. —And how thuh nation mourns —
(Takes his leave)

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), The Foundling Father, Abraham Lincoln, Lucy
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.