Phillis In Boston, Play Celebrating African American Poet and Prodigy Phillis Wheatley's Revolutionary Legacy, Opens Nov 3 at the Old South Meeting House
Original play written by Ade Solanke and directed by Regge Life on stage for five weeks in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party
BOSTON, Oct. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Boston nonprofit Revolutionary Spaces announces the debut of Phillis in Boston, an original play dramatizing a key moment in the life of both the nation and the celebrated poet Phillis Wheatley, enslaved author of the first known book of poetry in English by an African American woman.
A unique work of place-based theater, Phillis in Boston will be performed as a site-specific play at the Old South Meeting House in Boston, where Wheatley was a congregant. Written by award-winning British-Nigerian playwright and screenwriter Ade Solanke and directed by Regge Life, an Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer, the play centers on a pivotal moment in the life of Wheatley, whose books arrived in Boston and were trapped on board one of the same ships carrying tea that would eventually be destroyed in the Boston Tea Party.
Phillis in Boston illuminates the multiple struggles for freedom underway in Boston shortly after Wheatley returned in 1773 from a whirlwind visit to London, where she was feted as a literary celebrity. Emancipated shortly after her return, she rejoins the African American community in New England as they engage in the work of creating a free society: questioning the slave-owning colonists’ true understanding of liberty, strategizing for the abolition of slavery, and debating which side to support in the ensuing revolutionary struggle. Phillis in Boston explores slavery in New England through the lens of Wheatley’s complex relationship with her enslaver Susanna Wheatley, who supported Wheatley’s literary ambitions even as she kept her in bondage.
“As we commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which played a pivotal role in the struggle for liberty that drove the American Revolution, it is absolutely critical that we ask ‘Liberty for whom?’ This unique work offers audiences a new way to see the interplay between the struggles for freedom undertaken by enslaved people, women, and other colonists, and we’re honored to have playwright Ade Solanke, director Regge Life, and the entire creative team leading the way. We hope this play will invite audiences to consider how the work of building a democracy that started 250 years ago remains unfinished,” said Dr. Nathaniel Sheidley, President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces.
Phillis in Boston is a companion piece to Solanke’s play Phillis in London, which explores Wheatley’s experiences as she moved through Britain’s elite literary and abolitionist circles in the summer of 1773. “I am thrilled to tell the next chapter of Wheatley’s story at Old South, because it creates an immersive glimpse into Wheatley’s Boston life as she participated in the revolution unfolding from the pews where she sat. Phillis in Boston aims to help audiences understand her not only as a literary prodigy, but also as a fervent abolitionist and entrepreneurial business woman who valued sisterhood, friendship, love, and community,” said Solanke. “This play is an entertaining memorial to a remarkable woman who overcame huge odds to create art and become the founding mother of both a nation and a vibrant, global literary tradition. I’m grateful to the entire Boston community who’ve so generously shared their ancestral ‘s/heroes’ with me.”
There will be two preview performances on Wednesday, November 1 and Thursday, November 2. Opening night will be Friday, November 3. Performances will run through Sunday, December 3. More information can be found here.
Phillis In Boston is made possible through the generous support of the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, the New England Women’s Club Fund, and Boston Tea Party 250th Anniversary Commemoration Transformational Partner Meet Boston. Revolutionary Spaces also thanks its travel partners JetBlue.
About Revolutionary Spaces
Revolutionary Spaces stewards the historic Old South Meeting House and Old State House as landmarks, museums, and gathering spaces for the open exchange of ideas and the continuing practice of democracy. Viewing history as a powerful tool for today, Revolutionary Spaces brings people together to explore the American struggle to create and sustain a free society.
Seven Hills Communications
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