Review in paper near Frankfurt

This is a Google translation of a review in DER BERGEN-ENKHEIMER 13.09.2018,
Mosaikkriche präsentiert Rich Swingle's Theaterstück:

Still up to date: the subject of "slavery"
Mosaic Church presents Rich Swingle's play

Bergen-Enkheim (zbs) - The old slave Dolly had a dream in South Carolina, in the United States of the 18th century. She had run and walked until she got to the sea and went swimming there. For people like her then an impossibility. The New Yorker Rich Swingle took up the story and presented the one-man play I Dreamed I Was Free in English for the Mosaic Church Bergen-Enkheim.

Dolly served with other slaves of a Christian white family in the country. John Woolman was the first in the family to think more deeply and philosophically about what it means to be a Christian, but still possess, sell, and trade in serfs as if they were animals. Woolman has kept a diary in his day that is still quoted today when it comes to slavery.

Rich Swingle performs regularly with his one-man play

More than 200 years later, in 1997, Rich Swingle had the idea to write a one-man play out of this story, with which he performs regularly. On his tour through Europe he visited Copenhagen, Brussels, [We did perform the play in Oslo at the Nordic Black Theatre. I performed another play, Big Fish Little Worm, on that trip in Helsinki, Arrie (Sweden) and an excerpt in Greve and Copenhagen (Denmark).] and Frankfurt, more precisely: The Riedsporthalle in Enkheim. "We were really happy when Swingle agreed," says Katharina Steinhauer, Pastor of the Mosaic Church, who made this event possible.

It's about faith in God, anger and despair

In the English-language play in which Swingle's wife directed [served as house manager. The original director was Kris Hilgaertner, and revisions to the play were directed by Mac Nelson.], it's all about faith in God, anger and despair. In the work, the protagonist tells an anecdote that describes the key message well: John had heard two slaves talking on his travels. One said to the other: "If these colonists attribute everything they do to their God and Jesus, then they must be the most terrible characters." [Actual quote from a dream: "If Christ directed them to use us in this sort, then Christ is a cruel tyrant."]  He then felt obliged to do something about the situation in his country and for the slaves, no matter how much it took to release them.

Rich Swingle takes on nine different roles in the play

Swingle took on a total of nine different roles in the play. He slipped from a sublime white slave owner and within seconds was in the skin of a dying young black man who will never see his child again. The story showed the transformation of the characters of Woolman, the slave Dolly and the slave trader Michael Worthington.

In the first part of the play John Woolman was presented as a small child. In the second part he is 19 and later he returns after a long journey as a 38-year-old and wants to convince Michael how immoral he acts.

The spectators are also required in the theater performance

Another special feature of the evening was how interactively Swingle designed it. So the spectators acted as "participants" in the "Philadelphia Yearly Meeting." They stood up against slavery and were so quiet between the first and second parts for several minutes after the request of the artist [to experience Quaker Silence], that you could hear a pin drop.

After the end of the play Swingle sat down on the "Hot Seat" and everyone could ask him questions about the characters, or to himself, of course in English. [Though people were encouraged to ask their questions in German, since there were people present who could interpret.] The approximately 100 spectators asked if the problem of slavery was still up-to-date and if so, what Woolman would do about it today. "Unfortunately, there are currently almost more serfs than at the time, though not in the US [in every nation on earth]. It is still very bad. In total there are nearly 30 million worldwide. What we can do is fundamentally change our behavior towards people of whatever origin. It is now, more than ever, important to show love and to believe," were then the words of the actor.




I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

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