New Stage Theatre, a professional theatre located in Jackson, Mississippi, presented in-school performances of The Selfish Giant and Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad to students in the New Albany School District on February 16-17.
New Albany Elementary School hosted two performances of The Selfish Giant on Thursday, February 16. Oscar Wilde’s classic children’s story about The Selfish Giant who wouldn’t share his beautiful garden becomes a joyous play that touches on themes of friendship, empathy, sharing, and kindness. The giant comes home from a long trip to find children playing in his garden. He kicks them out, threatening to bring them to justice for trespassing. But a harsh winter—in the form of comic characters Frost, Snow, and North Wind—brings the realization to the giant that the children who used to trespass in his garden implanted friendship in this special place. The giant’s heart melts in a life-changing moment, and spring, along with the children, returns to his garden.
Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad was presented to New Albany Middle School and New Albany High School students on Friday, February 17. The greatest collaboration against racism in American history, before the Civil Rights Movement, was the Underground Railroad. People of all ethnic backgrounds, of both sexes, and from North and South came together to resist the oppression of slavery by helping escaped slaves make their way to free territory in the years before the Civil War. Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad celebrates these alliances by combining the many stories with songs of the period. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe are represented as well as lesser known heroes of the movement like John Rankin, whose house on a hill was a beacon for freedom; the mysterious “Peg Leg” Joe who moved among the plantations teaching slaves to escape and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song designed to show them the way; and Henry “Box” Brown who had himself put in a box and mailed to freedom. The production will encourage student audience participation in the singing of traditional spiritual, “Oh, Freedom.” The story inspires all to work together for the good of all as it celebrates a time when Americans were at their courageous best, supporting one another—regardless of background, ethnicity or gender—in the cause to extend to all Americans our greatest, most inalienable right: freedom.
New Stage Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre. New Stage Theatre’s Arts-in-Education tours are supported, in part, by Entergy, the Chisholm Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.