TURNING 15 ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM Celebrates Youth Activism at The Riverside Theatre
Following a year of worldwide political and social activism spearheaded by young people in this country and around the world, the new play with gospel music Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom begins its 2019 tour with a special engagement at The Riverside Church of New York on January 19 & 20 in celebration of Martin Luther King's Birthday. This poignant and inspirational new play with music is a reminder that young people have used the power of their voices throughout history to bring about change. The true story of Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest person to march all the way from Selma to Montgomery in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom was developed for the stage by Ally Sheedy and is directed by Fracaswell Hyman. The stage adaptation is based on the award-winning memoir by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley and illustrated by PJ Loughran.
News cycles in 2018 were dominated by stories of young people who took to the streets to march in protest and demand action from those in power to keep them safe. Emma Gonzalez, 18, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, urged young people to "Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job." The survivors of that Parkland, Florida shooting organized massive rallies, inspired thousands of young people to walk out of school, and attracted mass media coverage to their "Never Again" movement. Another young person, 15-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, put it best when she addressed the United Nations climate summit in December: "You're not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children...We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not."
More than 50 years ago, Lynda Blackmon Lowery, 14 years old when she began marching with her schoolmates, braved prison, was brutally beaten by sheriff's deputies, and turned 15 years old as she marched toward Montgomery, Alabama, to help win voting rights for African Americans in the segregated South. The new play with music, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, brings the youth movement of the 1960's to life through powerful drama and stirring Gospel and Freedom songs. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom is a timely reminder of the pivotal role of young people-yesterday, today and tomorrow-in shaping history through the ongoing quest for justice and Civil Rights.
Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, Psych, The Little Sister (2016)) developed the stage adaptation of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts with the commanding young actor Damaras Obi. Since its first incarnation as a one-person show, and under the direction of Fracaswell Hyman, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been developed into a 6-character play with music, playing to sold-out audiences on the road. This January's performances at The Riverside Church of New York marks the beginning of the production's 2019 tour, through Black History Month and Women's History Month, traveling to Little Rock, AR; Millersville, PA; and more destinations to be announced.
Public performances at New York's Riverside Church (Theatre entrance at 91 Claremont Avenue near 120th St.) are Saturday, January 19 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm and Sunday, January 20 at 2:00pm & 6:00pm. Tickets priced at $30, and $20 for students and seniors, can be purchased at https://turning15atriverside.eventbrite.com or by calling 212-870-6792.