Making the case for slavery

by jenthorn

Several of my fellow cast members in Bleeding Kansas have their work cut out for them tonight.  They are playing pro-slavery characters in the show and last night our dramaturg Jeff Smith gave us all an assignment that will be harder for some than others.  We each have to make a case for why our characters came to Kansas.  I am playing an abolitionist who moved to Kansas to try and influence the vote and win the Kansas territory over as free soil in order to tip the balance in favor of the north.  While I am making a case against slavery on behalf of my character Hannah, Chris Buess (last seen at MOXIE in Blubonnet Court) and Mark Petrich (last seen at MOXIE in Devil Dog Six) will be arguing on behalf of slavery…no small task.

Abolitionist Anna Dickinson - A source of my inspiration

Abolitionist Anna Dickinson - A source of my inspiration

My job will be not to argue that slavery is wrong but to make clear the unique and specific perspective of my character which isn’t without flaws.  Hannah comes to the Kansas Territory because she believes she will help the ignorant heathens of the frontier see that slavery is against God, and therefor wrong.  I don’t believe Hannah would feel entirely comfortable with a black man at her dinner table though… I think it is the idea of abolitionism that she is attracted to.  I’m beginning to think the sheer excitement of the adventure of picking up and leaving civilized Boston for the unknown wilderness of Kansas is half of what brought Hannah.  This quote which Jeff shared with me last night from Jane Smiley’s book The All True Travels and Adventures of Liddie Newton seems to get to the heart of Hannah’s journey and indeed all the characters in Bleeding Kansas.

 “I thought of Susannah Jenkin’s own observation that K.T. had coarsened her. But that made it seem as though how K.T. changed you was all bad. In my opinion, K.T. made you see the world as it was. Your actions followed that.”

Wish us luck tonight folks!

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