The Herald Bulletin

September 7, 2013

Actress to portray Mary Todd Lincoln

The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

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PENDLETON — As a former school teacher, MaryAnne Mathews taught American history involving Abraham Lincoln. And she grew up in Illinois, where Lincoln lived. And she is also a performer.

So it comes as little surprise that Mathews is portraying Mary Todd Lincoln in a one-woman, one-act play.

Mathews, who now lives in Carmel, will bring her one-hour performance to the Pendleton Community Public Library in a free show at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14.

"A Visit with Mary Todd Lincoln" was written by Mathews and illustrates different aspects of Mrs. Lincoln’s life, from her childhood, her Springfield years, and relationship with the 16th president, to the years after his death. It will be followed by a question and answer session.

Mrs. Lincoln has long been a controversial character in history and literature.

"I feel like she hasn’t had an opportunity to tell her story form her viewpoint. A lot of people make up their minds for or against her. I think she's a very complex individual," said Mathews from her home.

Mary Ann Todd was born Dec. 13, 1818 into a wealthy Kentucky family. She met Abraham Lincoln while living with her sister in Springfield, Ill. The couple married on Nov., 4, 1842 when she was 23 and he was 33. Following the assassination of her husband and the death of three of her sons, she went into a depression that marred her final years. Her surviving son, Robert, would eventually commit her to an asylum.

But Mathews' mission is to present Mary Todd Lincoln in light of her times.

"I don’t spend a lot of time on the insanity part. There are a lot of incidents that people all agree happened but you can interpret them in a number of ways," Mathews said.

She said she enjoyed Sally Field's portrayal of Mary Todd in Steven Spielberg's 2012 biopic "Lincoln."

While studying the woman, Mathews said she found that Mary Todd had a special trait. "She was quite a mimic. She was very funny and witty. She was in her school plays and cracked up her friends and probably Lincoln with imitations of people. she could have been an actress I think."

Although, Mathews acknowledged, there is a slight difference between herself and Mary Todd Lincoln. "She was taller than I am. She was 5-1 and I’m shorter than that."

Mathews also found an affinity for her character when she was cast as Mary Lincoln in the 2012 production of "A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Story" at the Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln City, Ind. At the time, she and her husband were living in Evansville. They have moved to Carmel to be nearer to family.

The Pendleton program will be held at the library on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. The program is free. RSVPs are appreciated. Anyone may register by calling the library at (765) 778-7527 or by emailing to reserve a place.

If you go What: "A Visit with Mary Todd Lincoln" written and performed by MaryAnne Mathews. When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 Where: Pendleton Community Public Library, 595 E. Water st., Pendleton Admission: Free. RSVPs are appreciated. Anyone may register by calling the library at (765) 778-7527 or by emailing to reserve a place.