I Dreamed I Was Free

I Dreamed I Was Free* is Rich's critically acclaimed one-person, two-act play about John Woolman, who spoke out against slavery over a century before the Civil War. The play has received positive reviews from newspapers and magazines around the world, and it is as popular in theatres as it is in churches.

As playwright, Rich has constructed events in the play which symbolize incidents and ideas from Woolman's life. The result is a compelling plot, focused on Woolman's turbulent youth. This makes the play particularly relevant to teens. The issues raised by the play are electrifying, challenging audience members of all ages not to settle for what our culture declares to be the norm, challenging them not to let the curse of racism fall upon the next generation.

This outdoor performance was steps
away from what used to be
John Woolman's orchard.
A Hot Seat, which can follow, allows John Woolman to field questions from the audience. Rich stays in character, answering questions that arise for any of the characters in the play. This can be as powerful as the play itself, allowing audience members to explore the themes that stirred them.

At the Nordic Black Theatre, Oslo.
I Dreamed I Was Free was performed at the Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo, Norway, and near Frankfurt, Germany, September 2018. Click for photos from that production and tour.

The play was selected to be a part of The New York City PRICE OF LIFE INVITATIONAL, a city-wide, campus-based, faith-inspired campaign addressing human trafficking in all its forms. Spearheaded by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in partnership with 75+ diverse organizations it was the largest human trafficking awareness campaign in the history of New York City. Rich's performance took place October 8, 2013, at City College, part of City University of New York.

                                                 -----------------------

Wow. Wow. Most moving artistic display against slavery I have ever seen. 
—Tim Craig Campus Staff - NYC Arts Ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

It was a very moving performance. Thank you! I can’t stop talking about the performance to my family and friends.
--Nina Berggren Monsen
Oslo, Norway

Swingle übernahm im Stück insgesamt neun verschiedene Rollen, er schlüpfte von einem erhabenen weißen Sklavenbesitzer binnen Sekunden in die Haut eines sterbenden jungen Schwarzen, der sein Kind nie wieder sehen wird.
--zbs
Der Bergen-Enkheimer, 13.09.2018
English Translation

Rich Swingle's one-person play, A Clear Leading*, on the life of John Woolman, was inspirational; we saw the struggles, the mistakes, and the slow but deep clarity that formed Woolman's famous leading. 
--Claudia Wair
Friends Journal
April 1998


Rich Swingle, playwright and actor, brings excellent stage presence and physical exuberance to his performance of the one-person play, A Clear Leading. ... (Swingle) is a master of a large variety of voices and dialects, switching characters with hats and other minimal props to pull off a well-paced and provocative drama, even when he is the only actor on stage.
—Wayne Copenhaver
"A Clear Leading: A One-person play about John Woolman"
Quaker Life, January/February 1997

This intriguing piece, derived from Woolman's diary, portrays Woolman from teenager to older man (he died at 52 of smallpox while visiting England on an anti-slavery tour).

Obviously very sincere in matters of religion, Swingle hasn't let matters of devotion get in the way of creating an entertaining, interesting, and moving theatre piece. He played Woolman as an older man and as a 19-year-old, as well as portraying his boss, Michael Worthington, two slaves, and a slaveowner and former chum, Amos Elkins. In the course of the play, Woolman develops from callow youth to thoughtful and independent adult. The presence of the other characters gives Woolman something to develop against, as, for instance, when one slave dies, unburdening himself most frankly against white slaveowners, under his care. Woolman's character is shown warts and all, and his life becomes a process of slowly getting rid of those warts and starting his own ministry.

None of this would have worked were Swingle not an extremely competent actor, able to bring all these characters to life with a minimum of props, a couple of set pieces, and authentic-looking costume.

Two notes that made the production especially interesting were a minute of Quaker worship during intermission (no one had a clear leading and spoke up, though) and a question-and-answer session by John Woolman -- that is, Swingle still in character -- after the show.
—John Chatterton
Off-Off Broadway Review

*I Dreamed I Was Free was formerly titled A Clear Leading. 

For more comments about I Dreamed I Was Free click here. For more comments about Rich's work visit What people are saying.

If you've seen I Dreamed I Was Free/A Clear Leading feel free to leave a comment below...
For more on Rich's work, visit RichDrama.com.

No comments: