1517 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Saturday June 3rd @ 4pm
Friday June 9th @ 6:30pm
Saturday June 24th @ 5pm
This one woman show brings Harriet Jacobs’ 1861 autobiography to life, which includes the arduous 7 years she spent hiding out as a fugitive in her grandmother’s attic. Her narrative reveals in shocking fashion the traumas of slavery, particularly for women and children. The audience will be moved by Harriet’s Jacob’s powerful story of resistance, hope and freedom.
“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” is adapted and directed by Wynn Handman as part of American Place Theatre Literature to Life. It is adapted from Harriet Jacobs’ autobiographical 1861 novel of the same name.
This stage presentation tells Jacobs’ story of growing up in slavery, culminating with the seven years she spent hiding in a cramped attic.
“It’s excerpts from the novel — I would say we do about the first half of the book,” she said. “We always encourage people to read the story to find out what happens next in her life. It’s a complete story … her journey continues from where we leave off on the stage.”
It’s the story of an enslaved woman who feels strongly that the institution of slavery is wrong and how she fights to free herself from her enslaved position, she said.
“It’s a story of survival and perseverance,” she said. “I think she’s a hero. She’s a flawed person. She’s not without fear, she’s not without discouragement, she’s not without doubt.
“But anyone that overcomes something or fights for a better life for themselves, or better circumstances, within that fear or doubt or discouragement, there’s perseverance. There’s moments of being courageous … and doing the impossible.”
One of the reasons she wrote the book was to reach white northern Christian women because she felt she could reach them, and they in turn could reach their husbands, Armstrong said.
In the narrative, Jacobs — whose names herself Linda Brent — addresses the struggle female slaves faced, including sexual harassment and abuse, and even motherhood. It was one of the first books to speak of the female slave experience.
“She wanted to … get out what the real story was; not what the papers gave you, or what Southern slaveholders gave you. She wanted to take you on that journey, and she’s not apologetic about it,” Armstrong said. “What it must be like to not only have any control over your own body, but you can’t even guarantee that your children will be with you. Because you are property and you live in fear of that happening to your children as well.”
People are generally taken aback after the show, she said, because they didn’t realize the extent of the horrors that slaves faced.
“Many of them take that emotional journey that she takes too,” she said. “I hope they leave wanting to learn more about Harriet Jacobs. Which I think is great. I don’t know if she ever thought that over 150 years later, her story would still be told. She was a private woman. She didn’t necessarily want to publish her story … but knew it would be good for the abolitionist movement.”
The show runs about an hour, and there’s an opportunity for the audience to speak with Armstrong afterward. She has done her best to research Jacobs’ life and hasn’t fielded many questions about the slave girl she can’t answer.
SOURCE: Article – THE COURIER NEWS