As previously reported, Straithairn will star as Abraham Lincoln opposite Giamatti as Stephen Douglas in Corwin's historical drama. Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Simonson directs the limited engagement that will run Oct. 15-19 at the Skirball Cultural Center.
The Rivalry will be recorded and subsequently broadcast on L.A.T.W.'s nationally syndicated radio theatre series "The Play's the Thing."
"With The Rivalry, Norman Corwin demonstrates once again his instinct for things timeless and quintessentially American," Simonson said in a statement. "The themes of this play resonate beyond its setting, 1858, and the time it was written, 1958. Race, states' rights versus federal interests, and the very nature of our political culture are all played out in exciting, dramatic and contemporary ways. It's a play that speaks to our national identity."
Press notes for The Rivalry read: "The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 tackled the day's most passionate issue - slavery. Taken directly from the transcripts, The Rivalry recreates the face off between Abraham Lincoln, rising Illinois legislator and abolitionist candidate of the newly formed Republican party, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic incumbent and champion of states' rights. The series of seven debates that took place in seven Congressional districts were conducted in a fever of partisanship as the nation listened. Brass bands played, and the press vilified or glorified the opponents, depending on which side they took."
In keeping with the play's political themes, a live viewing of the third Obama-McCain debate, followed by analysis by an historian of presidential debates, will be offered prior to the Oct. 15 evening performance. For tickets, priced $20-$48, to any of "The Play's The Thing" productions at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, call the L.A. Theatre Works box office at (310) 827-0889. For more information visit latw.org.