A book that effectively presents educators with the essential components of a live theatrical performance, as well as the...

Sojourner's Truth


A biographical play about activist and former slave Sojourner Truth (circa 1797-1883), enhanced with background information and a supplementary teachers guide.

Hellweg and Kuhn collaborate on an educational play that focuses on the life of Truth and her role in the 19th-century abolitionist movement. This edition includes a full script, illustrated with full-color photographs from one of the play’s performances, as well as relevant historical images. It also includes a comprehensive glossary, detailed references, an audio recording of the play’s performance and a compact disc containing additional materials, including photos and music, which can be used in a school curriculum. The script draws heavily on Truth’s 1850 memoir, often quoting from the original text, and follows a linear narrative from Truth’s birth as a slave in 18th-century New York through her emancipation and involvement with utopian movements, to her emergence as a leading abolitionist in the years before the Civil War. Truth’s character delivers most of the play’s dialogue, supported by a narrator and several other significant people in Truth’s life, played by a single actress. The play’s strength is in its adherence to direct quotations from original documents. However, it’s more effective in performance than in written form, as the authors’ desire for accuracy sometimes conflicts with creating a coherent narrative, leading to distractingly punctuated sentences such as “I am ‘from the Empire State and [know] the laws as well as [you do],’ ” and “[I] seldom saw [my] parents after that,” which appear awkward on the page. The meticulous citations, however, make this flaw forgivable. A “musicology” essay following the script helpfully provides valuable information on the many songs included in the performance.

A book that effectively presents educators with the essential components of a live theatrical performance, as well as the authors’ substantial research on an American icon.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-937146-51-1

Page Count: 51

Publisher: Enchanted Circle Theater

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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