Cliveden is excited to announce the presentation of the interactive dramatic event Liberty to Go to See on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays June 4 – 20, 2015, culminating with performances during Historic Germantown’s Juneteenth Celebration. Based on the Chew Family Papers, Liberty to Go to See will be produced by the New Freedom Theatre and directed by award-winning actor and director Johnnie Hobbs.
New Freedom Theatre is working from a script created through a year-long partnership between Cliveden and the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Teenagers researched the Chew Family Papers—which contain thousands of documents related to the Chew family plantations and the people who toiled on them—to bring to life the people who lived and worked at Cliveden from the 1760s through the 1860s. The title of the play comes from a letter written by an enslaved worker, Joseph, to his owner, Benjamin Chew, requesting permission to go to another plantation to be near his wife. The Young Playwrights worked with Cliveden staff, historians, and community stakeholders to workshop and preview the dramatic creation in 2013.
Artists from New Freedom Theatre will bring the script to life in June with performances in Cliveden’s main house. Audience will follow narrator James Smith, a freed African servant, through a series of episodes of daily life and work with the Chew family and their indentured, enslaved, and immigrant workers. The story dramatizes the paradoxes in American history as revealed in the class inequalities, gender roles, racial discrimination and struggles for freedom.
Because of the confines of the Cliveden house, audiences will be limited to 20 people. Performances of this intimate event are Thursdays and Fridays June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7:00p.m., and two shows Saturdays June 6, 13 and 20 at Noon and 3:00p.m. Admission is $12 per person. For more information please visit www.cliveden.org.
“Liberty to Go to See” is presented with support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Interpretation and Education Fund, the National Endowment for Humanities, The Haley Foundation and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
Cliveden is a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation located 6 miles from Center City Philadelphia in Historic Germantown. Built in 1767, Cliveden benefits from centuries of dedicated preservation efforts and remains one of the nation’s best-documented and least-altered Colonial houses. Cliveden is the location of the 1777 Battle of Germantown during the Revolutionary War. Cliveden creates a pride of place, where the past is valued, preserved, and accessible for the benefit of the community.
About Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Founded in 1987 by Adele Magner and led today by Executive Producing Director Glen Knapp, Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an award-winning program that taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting in more than 50 public and private K-12 schools each year. A leader in the region’s educational programs for youth and built upon its primary belief that all students have something important and valuable to say, Young Playwrights has enriched the Greater Philadelphia community, touching the lives of thousands of students, teachers, and parents for more than 25 years. Each year, PYP produces dozens of new plays and monologues written by student playwrights through various and ongoing community partnerships with universities, professional theater companies, and other cultural organizations throughout the region. Nearly 60,000 students have seen peers’ work produced in class or by professionals.
About Freedom Theatre
Rooted in the African American tradition, New Freedom Theatre is an institution dedicated to achieving artistic excellence in professional theatre and performing arts. Founded in 1966 by the late John E. Allen, Jr., under the umbrella of the Black People’s Unity Movement, the theatre was created to emphasize African Americans and their art and culture as a significant segment of American arts and culture. New Freedom Theatre teaches preschoolers, preteens, teens and adults in the majors of creative dramatics, acting, music, and dance. New Freedom Theater presents professional plays and makes its facilities accessible to the community. For more information about New Freedom Theater see www.freedomtheatre.org.