Some of history’s most noteworthy African-American voices will come alive this weekend.
Bright Star Touring Theatre performs its original show “Let Freedom Ring: Music and Poetry of Black History” Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Using powerful songs, poems and speeches, “Let Freedom Ring” touches on significant periods in African-American history, including the abolition movement, Jim Crow laws, the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement.
Throughout the performance, the audience can expect to hear from significant figures in African-American history like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou and Barack Obama.
One of the famous poems featured in the production is “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, which is echoed later on in the play with Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird.”
Josh Batenhorst, who contributed to writing and editing “Let Freedom Ring” and directed it in its early stages, said the production should have a lasting effect on viewers because it teaches history in a unique way.
“(Theater) has the ability to really impact someone in a short period of time and sometimes in ways that a classroom experience can’t,” Batenhorst said. “A lot of times, you go away from a movie and you’ll remember for years later how the movie affected you or a play, also. Whereas a lot of us don’t remember a lot of what happened in fifth-grade science class.”
Bright Star Touring Theatre is a North Carolina-based traveling production company that brings original shows to schools and communities throughout the country, many of which have educational components in areas like history, literature and more.
Camille Reinecke, Cultural Center arts and education outreach manager for the cultural center, said the Scranton Cultural Center regularly schedules shows for children that help bring art and education together. The idea behind bringing in this show was to educate the public for Black History Month.
“We thought it was a good fit seeing as it is February and we’re celebrating, we wanted to embrace that and bring our audience to celebrate with us,” Reinecke said.
She believes the performance will give the audience something to think about.
“This is geared for young kids and families, people of all ages, and a great opportunity to teach people about the history of civil rights, and to expose them to some aspects of that history that they may not be familiar with,” she said.
Reinecke said it’s important for people to know the history because there is a lot more to be done to ensure that all people are treated equally. Additionally, she hopes the music and poetry in the show achieves more than just narrating the hardships people of color experienced.
“I’m hoping it exposes a lot of the beauty that these people created,” Reinecke said.
If you go
What: Bright Star Touring Theatre presents “Let Freedom Ring: Music and Poetry of Black History”
When: Saturday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets: $5 for the show only; $9 for show and Wiggles and Giggles Craft Workshop at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased on ticketmaster.com, sccmt.org, at the box office or by calling 570-344-1111.
— Brooke Williams