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Sojourner's Truth by Priscilla Kane Hellweg

Sojourner's Truth

"I will shake every place I go to"

by Priscilla Kane HellwegRachel Kuhn

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-937146-51-1
Publisher: Enchanted Circle Theater

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.