Play Surpasses Reviewer's Take
Jerrell Nickerson sorely missed the mark in his review of "North Star Light: Pathways to Freedom" ("Secret Passage," Arts & Culture, Feb. 23).
Nickerson writes that the "best thing" in this production was the humor. While humor speckled the script and made tangible the human, at times humorous, facets of this intense and unrelenting struggle for freedom, I can assure you that Henry "Box" Brown found little "slapstick" humor in his 26-hour journey to freedom stuffed in a box.
This show was far more than a humorous, joyful play for children. This was an impassioned performance that conveyed the strength, determination and resilience of the human spirit, which is fortunate enough to retain its sense of humor in even the greatest of struggles. The actors beautifully and powerfully told just a few of the stories of the Underground Railroad, a piece of American history that is too often passed over due to lack of written record.
Nickerson states that despite it being intended for school-children, it was not "painfully didactic." I can only hope that it did indeed teach a moral lesson, for it made this white school teacher cringe with shame at what one group of human beings forced upon another. Adanma Onyedike's performance certainly captivated my class, but certainly not for her petite size as Nickerson suggests. Onyedike was an extraordinary, passionate actor who cried real tears as she portrayed a mother's desperate decision to kill her own baby rather than watch her child return to bondage. "Occasionally unsettling," as Nickerson describes the play, is painfully wrong! It was highly unsettling, a remarkable portrayal of human oppression at its worst and human spirit at its best.
I worried that it may have been too harsh for my fifth grade class, but slavery was harsh, and it bears mention over and over again that this was a despicable piece of our history, and history itself only because of the brave individuals who sought the most basic of human rights.
Yes, there was humor in this play. There were joyful moments and musical cheerfulness, as Nickerson writes. But any person looking for a good laugh best go to another show. If one, child or adult, is seeking an impressive portrayal of the fight for freedom from slavery, a tale of strength, bravery and the human spirit in both humor and pain, then "North Star Light: Pathways to Freedom" is an excellent choice.
St. Mary's School
I disagree about how you said the play "North Star Light: Pathways to Freedom" was joyful. All the slaves fought hard for their freedom. Many slaves didn't get what they wanted, but still, do you call that joyful? You should have said that the play was sad. It disrespects me because I am black, and maybe some of my family went through that and you called it joyful.
Student, Kerri White's class
We misspelled Kristen Emerson's name ("Win or Lose," News & Features, Feb. 23). Style regrets the error.
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