HARRIET TUBMAN: WHEN I CROSSED THAT LINE TO FREEDOM OVERVIEW
HARRIET TUBMAN is a two act theatrical work that tells of how a young girl born in slavery, becomes Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad conductor. Based on recent Tubman biographies, the story is told in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family of lively characters. HARRIET TUBMAN carries the universal themes of sisterhood, courage, sacrifice and doing what is necessary to keep a family together. Moreover, it is a heartwarming tale of two sisters vowing that nothing but death will separate them, despite the slavery threatening to tear them apart.
ACT I: IN SLAVERY
Dorchester County, MD. Circa 1829. Born into slavery, young Araminta or “Minty” Ross is sent away from her family to work for plantation owners in the area. Minty encounters numerous mishaps over the years, until an accident leaves her in a coma. When she recovers, new duties have her learning lumbering from her father and brothers. Mindful of a climate in which human property can be bought and sold, she vows that “nothing but the grave” will part her from her baby sister, Rachel. As a young adult, “Minty” changes her name to Harriet and subsequently marries a free man named John Tubman. Hearing of her impending sale from home, Harriet runs away to the unknown North.
ACT II: IN FREEDOM
Philadelphia, PA. Three years later. Now, an active Underground Railroad Conductor, aided by the local Reverend Sam Green and a Quaker woman, Harriet has run north. She ends up at the home of William Still, famed Stationmaster of Philadelphia’s Underground Railroad Network, and his wife. Two years later, a seasoned part of the abolitionist network, Tubman tells of her escape and ambitions of liberating her family to an abolitionist meeting. Supported by the abolitionists, and wages earned through domestic work, she begins rescue missions home, each time conducting small groups of family and friends to the north. Tubman’s fame grows with the increasing number of runaways secreted from the community. Her escapades earn her the moniker “Moses, the Liberator.”
Composer Bio – Nkeiru Okoye
Hailed as “Sublime” by the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, Nkeiru Okoye’s compositions are a musical quilt that draw inspiration from a dizzying range of influences—Gilbert & Sullivan, the Gershwins, Sondheim, Copland, gospel, jazz, and Schoenberg. Her theatrical works have been presented by American Opera Projects, Oberlin Opera Theater, and Ensemble Pi. Her symphonic works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and countless regional orchestras. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an NEA Art Works grant for her opera, HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom; and a Female Composers Discovery Grant from Opera America, for her comedy, We’ve Got Our Eye On You. She is the Director of Music Theory and Composition at the State University of New York at New Paltz where she teaches harmony, orchestration, and composition.
Chicago’s own extraordinary cast of Harriet Tubman is led by powerful soprano, Joelle Lamarre, Northwestern University alumni and a recipient of the Bravo award from the Bel Canto Foundation. Premiere American Conductor Leslie B. Dunner teams with Chuck Smith (Goodman Theater) for Okoye Chicago’s premiere of this Harriet Tubman moment.