Dillon Bustin, Artistic Director
Angel Harris, Communications Manager
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ROXBURY, MA. Madison Park Development Corporation is pleased to announce the premiere production of Wrestling with Freedom, a new play connecting African-American history to the country’s present predicament. Written and directed by Jacqui Parker, Wrestling with Freedom will be presented for six performances on: February 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30pm and on February 19 and 26 at 4:00pm. Tickets ($35 VIP, $25 general admission and $15 seniors and students) can be purchased at www.madison-park.org. Hibernian Hall is located at 184 Dudley Street in Roxbury’s Dudley Square.
“Wrestling with Freedom is about the constant struggle throughout history to survive and be heard, from slavery to present day,” explains playwright Jacqui Parker. “The play also deals with the drastic measures to which our government has driven us, and an unwavering will to be heard.”
The show is comprised of three powerful one-act plays. In play one, the audience is transported to the 18th century and meets the celebrated poet Phillis Wheatley and her friend Obour Tanner. These women, although enslaved in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, managed to have full intellectual and artistic lives. Play two is set in the 19th century with Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and John Brown, just before the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. This raid, which was intended to spark a slave uprising throughout the Southern states, was unsuccessful but it did hasten the beginning of war between the North and the South. In play three, set three years in the future in 2020, a modern-day civil war is looming. Wrestling with Freedom is made possible in part by a grant from the Boston Foundation. “Hibernian Hall is pleased and proud to present these short dramas of remembrance and prophecy,” said Hibernian Hall’s Artistic Director Dillon Bustin. “We’re grateful for funding from the Boston Foundation in support of the production.”
The play features an ensemble of 12 actors: Brandin Kimm, Stephanie Marion-Lee, Candis Hilton, Bithyah Isreal, Jessica Natalie Smith, Joseph Mullin, Ines De La Cruz, Andrea Whitfield, Rose Kanj, Jayda Williams, Dynasia Evans-Goode and Saniya Johnson.
Wrestling with Freedom is the fourth play by Jacqui Parker produced by Hibernian Hall, which selected her as Visiting Playwright during 2015-2016. Her first play, Roads to Wisdom, was presented in May 2015. A preview weekend of A Crack in the Blue Wall was presented in July 2015 along with a full production of the show in November 2015. My Jeannie Don’t Sing was presented in July 2016. Parker directed the staged reading of Bill Lowe’s original work, Pieces of Cane, presented at Hibernian Hall in June 2015. In addition to CANE, she also directed Tempest Production’s Body & Sold in June 2016.
About the Playwright
Jacqui Parker is a playwright, director and actor based in Boston. She is the artistic director of Our Place Theatre Project and founder of the African American Theatre Festival at Boston Center for the Arts which has sought out and promoted works by people of color including youth. For her work as an activist in theater diversity, Parker won the 2004 Boston Theatre Hero Award from StageSource and the 2009 Drylongso Award from Community Change, Inc.
In 2012 Parker was commissioned by the Race Amity Program at Wheelock College to write a play about positive change in race relations, and created Xernona and the Grand Dragon X about community activist Xernona Clayton. She has received praise from educators for her one-act plays on Phillis Wheatley, Bessie Smith, Zora Neale Hurston and Louis Latimer.
She has won numerous awards from Independent Reviewers in New England (IRNE), including her recent 2015 IRNE Award for Best Actress in a Drama in August Wilson’s Fences at Gloucester Stage Company. Parker’s play, A Crack in the Blue Wall, was nominated for best play of 2016 by IRNE. Recently, Parker directed Intimate Apparel at Brandeis University and Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories at Harvard University’s Loeb Drama Center.
About Madison Park Development Corporation
Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC) was founded in 1966 when a group of community activists said no to the threatened destruction of their neighborhood. Over the past 50 years, MPDC has become a champion in revitalizing Lower Roxbury and saying yes to resident-led development and community empowerment. MPDC’s mission is to support a vibrant, healthy Roxbury neighborhood that supports the well-being and advancement of the community.