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.
|At the Nordic Black Theatre, Oslo.|
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
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.
Der Bergen-Enkheimer, 13.09.2018
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.
"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.
Off-Off Broadway Review, July/August 1997
*I Dreamed I Was Free was formerly titled A Clear Leading.
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