The Booth Variations

A multimedia collaboration created and conceived by Todd Cerveris, Nick Philippou and Caridad Svich

Todd Cerveris as Edwin Booth from the NY premiere of THE BOOTH VARIATIONS photo: Jason Lindberg

Written by Todd Cerveris and Caridad Svich
Directed by Nick Philippou

A solo multimedia piece told in fragments of narrative – original and source material – which examines the life and times of 19th-century US actor Edwin Booth, the Lincoln assassination, and the shaping of a national character.

Project website:

Selected Press Quotes:
“A seriously ambitious mixed-media work. A far-reaching historical fantasia sparked by bright insights about the shadowy relationship between performers and their audiences in the American past and present.” Ben Brantley in The New York Times

“A visceral tour-de force by theatre virtuosos.” Curtain Up (New York)

“Pick of the Week” New York Magazine

“(Edinburgh Fringe Festival Top Ten, Four Stars). A dazzling re-imagining of the lives of the notorious American stage family the Booths, and particularly the actor Edwin Booth. An edgy piece of theatre that snarls at the heels of celebrity culture.”  The Times (UK)

“(Five stars) An inspired multi-media exploration of the relationship between performance and public culture.” “Devised by Todd Cerveris and Caridad Svich with US-based British director Nick Philippou and videographer Peter Nigrini, this piece is an inspired multi-media exploration of the relationship between the performance and public culture…played with thrilling bravura by Todd Cerveris.” (Fringe First nomination) The Scotsman

“(FOUR STARS) “…a dazzling multi-media production…a complex but beautiful piece of theatre directed by Nick Philippou and written by Todd Cerveris and Caridad Svich…The Booth Variations is an outstanding display of how technology used correctly can really enhance a theatrical experience. Yet with all the gadgetry arrayed around him it is Cerveris’ magnificent performance that captivates the attention.” Scottish Theatre

“A fascinating study of image, of what is real and what is created by public projection, fusing 19th century themes and modern day obsession with celebrity and media.” The List (UK)

“An ambitious study of celebrity status and theatrical morality…innovative in its creation of multiple narratives.” The Fest (UK)
Production History:
The Booth Variations was first produced August 8, 2004 by The Moonshine Project

at 59E59 Theaters, New York City directed by Nick Philippou, featuring Todd Cerveris and Michael Cerveris, music by Michael Cerveris and Will Johnson. Lighting and video design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Jeffrey ‘Yoshi’ Lee, choreography by Deborah Lohse, costume design by David Rigler.

It received its UK premiere at the Assembly Rooms (Wildman Room) as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland in the summer of 2005.

This project was developed with the support of: Blue Heron Theatre, New York and the NYSCA “Out on a Limb” Special Projects Program; Hourglass Group, New York and their Summer Retreat at Choate Rosemary Hall; Voice & Vision Theatre, New York and their Envision Retreat at Bard College; and Denison University, Department of Theatre, Ohio.

Special thanks to Ray Wemlinger at the Hampden-Booth Library at The Players, New York, and to New Dramatists for time and space.

Publication History:
“North,” the final movement of The Booth Variations, has been published in Play: A Journal of Plays Volume One, 2003.

“Crafting Madness,” an article by Todd Cerveris and Caridad Svich about the editing of the initial drafts of The Booth Variations, was published in the UK Journal, Performance Research, edited by Claire MacDonald.

Selected Press Links:
New York Times Review

Curtain Up review

Cerveris Brothers Play Edwin and John Wilkes in The Booth Variations, Playbill, August 5, 2004

archival image from first workshop staging of THE BOOTH VARIATIONS. photo: Caridad Svich

workshop staging of THE BOOTH VARIATIONS. photo: Caridad Svich