In SHALLOW BROWN, Thessalonia falls hard for a free sailor, one of the many who smuggles pages of the radical Black self-defense manifesto, “David Walker’s Appeal”, from Boston up and down the eastern seaboard in 1829. She helps her serious father circulate the prohibited document. Two short years later, her suspicions about her dad are confirmed. He turns out to be a respected organizer in the Nat Turner rebellion of 1831.
Prior to the Civil War, when the primary channel of transport was via the water, one in five boatmen and sailors in the US were Black. Largely independent, both enslaved and free, and often with crews of their own, these Black men moved goods through Northern and Southern US ports and along international waterways.
Their skill and particular knowledge afforded them respect and stature otherwise unknown on land. An under-appreciated axis of resistance, they brought back stories to their communities of how other colored people lived, they smuggled freedom documents and they helped runaways escape.
As was common in that era, they created sea chanteys songs to help them in their daily chores, to lighten their hearts and to document their experiences.
You can catch excerpts of this play in development twice at:
Friday, May 25, 2018 – 9 pm
Lower East Side Festival of the Arts
Theater for the New City, NYC
155 First Avenue (bet. 9th & 10th Sts)
New York, NY 10003
Sat., June 9, 2018 – 9 am
Excerpt AND Research Findings
Symposium, 39th Annual Sea Music Festival
Mystic Seaport, CT
and see the full reading of the play on:
October 17 & 18, 2018 – 7 pm
La Maison d’Art
259 West 132nd St., Harlem