Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
FREEDOM HIGH, CIVIL RIGHTS DRAMA
INSPIRED BY THE 1964 MURDERS OF CHANEY, GOODMAN AND SCHWERNER,
MAKES ITS PREMIERE AT QUEENS COLLEGE
--QC Alumni Who Were Civil Rights Activists Will Reflect on Their Experiences in a Panel Discussion Following the May 13 Performance--
|Performance Dates: || |
(Preview) Wednesday, May 9 at 7 pm
Thursday, May 10 at 7 pm
Friday, May 11 at 8 pm
Saturday, May 12 at 2 and 8 pm
Sunday, May 13 at 3 pm
| || |
|Where: || |
The Little Theatre
(Part of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts)
King Hall, Room 115
65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY
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|Panel Discussion and Reception: ||Sunday, May 13, at 5:15 pm, immediately following |
the 3 pm performance; reception to follow the discussion.
| || |
|Tickets and Info: ||$14 ($12 w/QCID/Seniors) |
Reserve tickets by email: FreedomHighTickets@hotmail.com
Tickets are also on sale at the door one hour before the
start of all performances.
FLUSHING, NY, April 30, 2007—“One of the exciting things about working on this play with Queens College was discovering the vital connections between the college and the civil rights movement,” says Freedom High playwright Adam Kraar. Directed by Susan Einhorn, Queens College Professor of Drama, Theatre and Dance, Freedom High is inspired by the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman (a Queens College student),
James Chaney and Michael Schwerner as they attempted to register African Americans to vote during the Freedom Summer of 1964.
| Marvin Duverne and Farin Schlussel |
In Kraar’s story, Jessica, a young white woman, volunteers to register African Americans in Mississippi and becomes involved with Henry, an African American civil rights veteran whose work has left him physically and emotionally wounded. As a romance develops between the two, Jessica experiences racism on a personal level. The play casts the shadow of the missing young men on the characters, whose commitment to the civil rights movement is extraordinarily tested.
After the disappearance of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner on July 2, 1964, many Queens College students began a five-day, water-only “Fast for Freedom.” Their murder catalyzed campus activism, which began earlier and included “Freedom Week” in April 1964, a series of lectures, rallies, and marches that preceded Freedom Summer. Speakers were Allard Lowenstein (an architect of the Freedom Summer project) and Aaron Henry, a leading black activist, and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Many Queens College students also pressured the federal government and media to spotlight the civil rights movement and collected money, books, and supplies to send South.
Following the Sunday, May 13 performance, Queens College alumni will discuss the themes of the play in relation to their experiences as Freedom Summer volunteers and civil rights activists. Panelists are:
- Mark Levy ‘64, who, with his wife, Betty (Bollinger) Levy ’63 (deceased), was co-director and teacher of the Meridian Freedom School during Freedom Summer ’64 and assigned to the same project area with Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Mr. Levy has generously provided rare photographs and documents for the production.
- Dorothy Miller Zellner ’60, who was among the first white members of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and worked in the South from 1961 to 1983, including participating in Mississippi Freedom Summer with the other Queens College students and alumni.
- Dean Savage, Queens College professor of Sociology, and Rabbi Moshe Shur, head of the Queens College chapter of Hillel, who both volunteered for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965 to register African Americans to vote in 120 counties in five Southern states. This major voter registration effort came to be known as the Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) Project, which resulted in the registration of 49,000 new voters in the South.
Susan Einhorn has directed over 65 drama, comedy, musical and operatic productions in New York and nationally, including over 35 premiere productions. She has headed the Queens College acting program for almost 25 years. Playwright Adam Kraar’s works have been presented by Primary Stages, New York Stage and Film and the New York Shakespeare Festival. He earned an MFA from Columbia University and was awarded playwriting fellowships from the William Inge Center for the Arts and Manhattan Theatre Club.
Freedom High is presented by the Queens College Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance in association with the Queens Theatre in the Park (QTIP). Additional performances take place at QTIP’s Studio Theatre on May 19 at 8 pm and May 20 at 3 pm.