THE GREAT SATAN SPEAKS – THE WISDOM OF ROBERT G. INGERSOLL
Written and performed by Ernest Kearney
PAST REVIEWS FROM THE FRINGE:
“I was taken aback by everything, including Kearney’s powerful performance. Loved his character work, and attention to detail all the way through costuming. I love learning new things and this experience with Kearney and Ingersoll was wholly satisfying. Thank you Earnest for introducing us all to a piece of History that is every bit alive as the stories, life, turmoil and hope we are creating today. Perhaps, Ingersoll will speak yet again in 2019?”
Sweet – Cheryl Wilson
“I was amazed how ahead of his time Ingersoll was on so many issue (race, women’s rights, religion, etc). The man would likely be considered radical if he lived today! Even more impressive was Kearney’s portrayal. With a larger than life figure such as Ingersoll, it would be easy to seem a pale copy or to reduce the man to sound bytes. Kearney brings passion, wit and humanity in his writing and acting as Ingersoll giving him new life even in 2018. I was captivated from start to finish. In short: the subject was interesting, the delivery was wonderful, and there was not a dull moment to be found!”
Sweet – Angela Acuna
“This show surpassed my expectations by far!! WHAT A TERRIFIC SHOW !!!! The writing, the acting and even the costume were Magnificent. I loved the way the actor related to the audience and to the props and mostly how he embodied Ingersoll. Excellent play!!! Excellent production!!!”
Sweet – Kathie B
“A captivating one man show by an actor who completely embodies a fascinating near forgotten historical figure, who was about a century and half ahead of his time in terms of his views of race, sex and religion. Full of witty and profound insights that are just as relevant today as they were when they were originally uttered. "
Sweet – David Lucarelli
Even with 379 or so competitors, Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), as inhabited by Ernest Kearney, is clearly The Wittiest and Most Literate Star of this year’s Fringe! This isn’t the first time Mr Kearney has excavated History to recreate an unjustly forgotten giant of the mind, and it (hopefully) won’t be the last. This is certainly The Best, though—-or, at least, the hardest to top! An Hour (and then some) with Robert Ingersoll will introduce you to a literate contrary thinker of a century ago, from a time when public speaking was its own art form—-and Mr Kearney, Ingersoll’s interpreter, is a master of that, too!
Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) was a force of nature on the American scene for which there is no comparison today. He was the greatest orator in this nation’s Golden Age of oratory, a Victorian-era rock star who attracted crowds in the tens of thousands. A prominent liberal Republican politician and prolific writer, Ingersoll entranced his audiences with speeches on literary and historical subjects, but they also heard him promote equal rights for women and demand they be given the vote, express support for an individual’s ‘right to die”, decry cruelty to animals, and condemned both southern lynching and northern executions.
Ingersoll was the most influential intellectual in our history, a social visionary who provided the initial concept that lead to the United Nations, provoked Margaret Sanger to pursue the possibility of the Birth Control Pill and encouraged Eugene Debs to found the Industrial Workers of the World.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, Ambrose Bierce, Fredrick Douglas, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Clarence Darrow all stood in awe of him, and Mark Twain who idolized him was not above usurping Ingersoll’s words and ideas as his own.
With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, Ingersoll was the most famous American the world over; Oscar Wilde proclaimed him “the most intelligent man in America;” while Wilde’s countryman, George Bernard Shaw would later confessed that Ingersoll’s influence upon him was “greater than that of any other man.”
But in the United States, Ingersoll was reviled by half of his countrymen, vilified by much of its press and denounced from nearly every pulpits.
His sin? Robert Ingersoll was the “father of the America Freethought movement.” He championed science over superstition, supported the theories of Darwin against the myths of Genesis, denied the Old Testament was a “moral guide,” argued that anyone who could actually raise the dead who not be crucified but highly sought after to employ his talents on lost loved ones, and wrote and lectured at lengths on “A Few Mistakes of Moses.”
He called for the complete “divorce of church and state,” criticizing the practices of stamping the nation’s coins with “In God We Trust,” opening legislative proceedings with prayers and having chaplains in the armed forces as “contrary to the genius of the Republic, contrary to the Declaration of Independence, and contrary really to the Constitution of the United States.”
Come and meet the most formidable foe that organized religion in this country has ever had to face, and the greatest American you’ve never heard of, the “Great Satan” himself, Robert Ingersoll.