Reed Birney and Son Ephraim on Acting Together for the First Time

The father and son duo are performing in Joseph Dougherty’s historic two-hander this summer in West Virginia, and learn a lot about each other in the process.

It’s 1944 and Chester Bailey wants to enlist in World War II. Instead, his parents find him a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yards that will allow him to play his part without crossing the ocean. A devastating workplace assault renders Chester blind and without hands—but he doesn’t see it that way. His spirited imagination and unwavering denial of his injuries lands him in a Long Island mental facility. Psychologist Doctor Philip Cotton is assigned to Bailey to administer a dose of reality. In the process, he becomes protective of the young man and bolsters his creative mind.

That remarkable story is the basis for Chester Bailey by Joseph Dougherty, which is currently having its second production at Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) in Shepherdstown, W. Va., through July 28. And it stars Tony-winning actor Reed Birney and his son Ephraim as Doctor Cotton and Chester Bailey, respectively (the entire Birney family are performers; Reed’s wife Constance Shulman and daughter Gus are also actors). Read More » / Allison Considine / Download PDF »