[68] EMANCIPATION SWEET, A PLAY WITH MUSIC (Theatre for Transformation): Fringe review

EMANCIPATION SWEET, A PLAY WITH MUSIC (Theatre for Transformation)
Scene from EMANCIPATION SWEET featuring Norman Carter and Gabriel Anthony-Kemp

Theatre for Transformation is a Lancaster-based company focused on performing African-American stories for diverse audiences. This active group has toured their original works to over 100 schools, college, faith groups, etc., in the last six years. Having created plays about the slaves of Benjamin Franklin, internationally renowned 19th-century African American poet Phillis Wheatley, and modern urban communities, their goal is to inspire learning and racial harmony among their various audiences. EMANCIPATION SWEET, their contribution to 2013 Fringe Festival and their commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, is about a confrontation between 21st-century apathy and 19th-century struggles.

In EMANCIPATION, the eponymous main character is a self-centered, historically apathetic teenage black boy whose white mother wants him to learn more about his racial heritage. At the Lincoln Memorial, a tramp grabs him and whirls him back in time. They visit the Proclamation’s centennial and the dangerous March on Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois’s pageant celebrating the 50th anniversary, and the day of signing itself, in the midst of the Civil War. Studded with impressive musical acts and somewhat less impressive acting, this family-friendly play pushes few boundaries. Yet it draws interesting connections between today’s state of racial intolerance and suppression with historical prejudices, hopes, and acts of rebellion. Any audience member is likely to learn something about the 150-year history of Lincoln’s famous Proclamation. [Society Hill Playhouse]. September 21st, 2013. fringearts.ticketleap.com/emancipation-sweet-a-play-with-music.

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