DH’s Yellow Fever Explores the Spiritual and the Political of the 1820s Epidemic!

In October for the ninth year the Davenport House Museum will stage a recreation of Savannah’s yellow fever epidemic of 1820. Every Friday and Saturday evening the garden and interior of the house are transformed into a theater set conveying the emotions surrounding the time.

Each year the performance has focused on a different aspect and point of view while maintaining the basic story of the dreadful pestilence which transformed a bustling seaport into a ghost town, devoid of the majority of its population.

This year’s performance promises to take its visitors where it has not gone before. Using the restored Kennedy Pharmacy as a stand-in for the city’s public gathering place in 1820, the Exchange Long Room at the foot of Bull Street occupied by City Hall today – the controversial war between Savannah newspapers which occurred in the weeks preceding the outbreak of yellow fever and which continued well into the epidemic, will be re-created in the first part of the evening’s performance.

The editors of the Columbia Museum and Gazette and the Savannah Republican battle of words and ideas over the nature of the fever, the extent of its severity, and the possible malfeasance by the Mayor and Council in the handling the outbreak of the disease. In addition to the editors of the newspaper battling out, the Mayor, Thomas Charlton, will be present.

As in past years, the fate and experiences of the uncounted half of the city’s population, both free and enslaved Africans, will be explored by the talented performer Jamal Touré.

With so much death and sickness, thoughts of the inhabitants naturally turned to contemplation of their own mortality and the destiny of those many souls who were victims of the malignant fever. This year features a discourse on the nature of phantoms and spirits, supernatural happenings, and the ultimate nature of the soul, as a typical person in the 1820s thought of them as expressed by a young lady of Savannah by candlelight, in the bedchamber of the Davenport House Museum.

At the conclusion of the evening, each visitor will participate in a “Lottery of Life and Death.”

Performing in the 2011 production of “A Mortality Prevails!” Savannah Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820 are: Iain Woodside as Mr. Fell, Jeff Freeman as Mr. Bartlett, John Leonti as The Mayor, Lauren Purcell as Miss Hestia Robinson, Tiffany Miller as Miss Portia Doughlass, Jody Christie as Mrs. Theodosia Johnson, Jan Vach as Mrs. Susannah Humphries and Shannon Wichers as Charlotte.

Details about the production:

REVISED! A Mortality Prevails! Savannah’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820
Friday and Saturday nights in October 2011 (October 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29)
Two performances: 7:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
$15 in advance for adults, $10 in advance children (ages 8-17) and $17 for adults and $15 for children at the time of the performance
Reservations recommended. Limited attendance.

For information or to reserve a place please call 912/236-8097, email info@davenporthousemuseum.org and see the museum’s website www.davenporthousemuseum.org

60 minutes
Not suitable from children under 8 years of age.
The performance requires that guests be able to walk up and down stairs and maneuver in the candlelit rooms.

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