Mad River Theater Works’ original play celebrates courageous Underground Railroad actions
Escaped slave Addison White, played by Destin Le’Marr, left, reacts with excitement and with slight apprehension about his new taste of freedom while urged by Amanda, played by Lauren Schloemer, center, and her abolitionist father Udney Hyde, played by Bob Lucas, to have a seat and a bite to eat during a rehearsal of the Freedom Bound Friday at Mad River Theater Works, 2790 Sandusky St., Zanesfield. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | MANDY LOEHR)
A story of the courageous citizens of the town of Mechanicsburg who went to great lengths to rally behind an escaped slave in 1856, even against threats from federal authorities, is the subject of an original one-act play Freedom Bound produced by Zanesfieldbased Mad River Theater Works, which is preparing to embark on a 20-state national tour.
The historical play is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year of telling the true story of Addison White’s arrival in the Champaign County town after his escape from Flemingsburg, Ky., on the Underground Railroad. Area residents are invited to learn more about White’s story when Freedom Bound begins its tour with a public performance at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at the John Legend Theater, 700 S. Limestone St., Springfield. A reception is planned at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors and children, with proceeds supporting The Gammon House, a historical Underground Railroad site in Springfield.
Bob Lucas of Mad River Theater Works said he and Jeff Hooper wrote the play in 1987 and 1988 after researching some of the oral histories that had been told to them regarding Addison White, who met abolitionist Udney Hyde when he arrived in Mechanicsburg and then stayed on his farm.
The case gained national press in the mid- 1800s when White’s slavemaster tracked him down to Champaign County and brought federal marshals to place him under arrest and transport him back to the South.
While Congress’ Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850 permitted these actions, Hyde and the residents of Mechanicsburg strongly opposed the federal officials’ efforts, Lucas said, noting the situation is detailed in the Congressional Record regarding “The Great Escape Case of 1856.”
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