Today, I learned about this intriguing upcoming performance at the Underground Railway Theater in Cambridge, MA, titled Roots of Liberty: The Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War.
Danny Glover, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Edwidge Danticat all star in the FREE May 4 performance, which is directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, and will feature music, dance, and puppetry.
Roots of Liberty is part of Freedom Rising: The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and African American Military Service in the Civil War - a May 2 to 4 series organized by Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Boston African American National Historic Site.What's it about? Courtesy of Boston.com:
“Roots of Liberty’’ tells the story of Cecile, a Haitian-American high school student who is assigned to write a paper on someone who helped pave the way to the Emancipation Proclamation. When she chooses Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution and an inspiration for the antislavery movement in the United States, Cecile’s teacher informs her she cannot write about him because he is “not in the textbook.’’ She sets out to prove Louverture’s significance and impact on US history. In what is described as “a kind of waking dream,’’ Cecile journeys through the history and culture of both nations, encountering along the way Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Union soldiers, and eventually Louverture himself.
I like the fantastical historic nature of the project, and can see it as a possible candidate for a film adaptation. Granted, I haven't seen the performance, which is likely going to be more akin to an after-school educational special, meant strictly to inform (although I could certainly be wrong about that). But just the idea of it alone, as described in the above synopsis, could inspire a number of different cinematic renditions that are based on the core idea, but build an intriguing fantasy/adventure-style narrative on-top of it, incorporating none, some, or all the different characters mentioned. Something not-so unlike, say, Alice In Wonderland, or The Wizard Of Oz.
So it could be both educational, but also very cinematic and entertaining. In the hands of the right writer(s), a nice balance can be achieved.
The Underground Railway Theater performance will see Danny Glover play either Toussaint Louverture or Frederick Douglass, while Henry Louis Gates Jr and Edwidge Danticat (who contributed to the script) will provide commentary and historical insight as the show unfolds.
Of course the irony in Danny Glover playing Louverture isn't lost on me, considering the fact that he's been trying to make a Louverture film for many years now.
You can read more about the Freedom Rising project HERE.