Franklin Stage Company Presents New Play, POSESSING HARRIET
A new play, Possessing Harriet, by Kyle Bass, will be presented by Franklin Stage Company, July 12th-28th, in their historic home, Chapel Hall.
The play, commissioned by the Onondaga Historical Association, is based on the true story of Harriet Powell, a young, mixed-race, enslaved woman who, in 1839, escapes from a hotel in Syracuse, New York, finding temporary safe harbor in the home of impassioned abolitionist Gerrit Smith. With the slave catchers in pursuit, Harriet awaits her nighttime escape to Canada in the company of Smith's young cousin Elizabeth Cady, an outspoken advocate for women's equality. As both women confront new and difficult ideas about race, identity, and equality, Harriet is forced to the precipice of a radical reckoning with the heartrending cost of freedom.
Playwright Kyle Bass is the Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage, which first produced the play in 2018. In describing the historic characters portrayed in Possessing Harriet, Bass says, "In my play, they're both 24. Young women of their time, in very different circumstances. I wondered, what would I want to hear them talk about? How would that go? Elizabeth Cady, free white woman, an uncommonly well-educated woman for her time, and Harriet Powell, enslaved." Bass has ancestral connections to the Franklin area. His great-great grandfather, Toliver Holmes, escaped slavery in Virginia, fought for the Union Army and settled in Delhi, NY. The character of Thomas Leonard is based on him.
The play is directed by FSC Co-Artistic Director, Leslie Noble, who calls Possessing Harriet "an important play, not only historically, but for the way it sheds light on where slavery and inequality have brought us to today. The play is deeply compassionate, and gives the audience an opportunity to examine this powerful subject. It is a conversation between characters, but also between the writer, the performers, and the audience." Possessing Harriet features Katya Collazo, Erin Christine Walsh, Gary-Kayi Fletcher and Ezra Barnes, all New York-based actors and newcomers to Franklin Stage.
Showtimes are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 3:00 pm and Sunday at 5:00 pm. Admission is free-suggested donation is $20 per person. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve and for more information, please visit www.franklinstagecompany.org or call 607-829-3700.
Programming at the Franklin Stage Company is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Possessing Harriet is funded in part with generous support from Robert and Nellie Gipson, the Tri-M Foundation and the Upstate Theatre Coalition for a Fair Game.