By Austin Steele
Queens College held an open house to high schools with one intended purpose, figure out a cause with which you will attach your name.
In a play that portrayed the racist America of the 1950s and 60s, American college students from up north took it upon themselves to infiltrate the heavily racist Mississippi and get more black people registered to vote. This task, however, proved to be a trying one as many of the students were faced with the possibly of mental, emotional, and physical abuse. In the worst case, possibly death was a likely fate for these youths.
The play of Freedom High had all the drama you would want from a 1960s rendition of the civil rights movement. The emotion, the pain, regret and even love is all bundled up in the all inspiring play that is Freedom High. Twelve actors came to bring about this play where six were professional actors while the other six were college students. This cast was headlined by the two leads played by the characters of Henry and Jessica.
The most important part of the presentation was, by far, the end, where actual people who lived during those trying times had a chance to speak and give their thoughts on the play. The panel of actors and professors, led by Mark Levy, gave personal experiences, memories and advice to the audience of young adults.
The lasting impression left though was to find a meaning and a cause that is worth the fight. No example is better than the story of Freedom High.
"Experimentally Acting the Civil Rights Movement"
By Catherine Nieves
The Civil Rights Movement was a strenuous time in the fast changing America. The social deviance was changing in theory, but in actuality the stubborn attitudes of many Americans resisting to change made it hard to bring justice for all.
Celebrating the summer of 1964 (named “Freedom Summer”) in which many people made steps to make African-Americans equal in society, Freedom High, a staged reading talked about the feelings and emotions that went on by performing this major task.
Freedom High was presented in Goldstein Theater at Queens College, an example of experimental acting: six actors were professionals, while the rest of the cast were Queens College students.
The action centers around the lead of Jessica Kuplecsky, a Russian Jew who abandoned her father’s dreams of following his footsteps (as a scientist) to take part of project based in Ohio. The project, expected to be implemented in racist Mississippi, was to register more black voters. This was a challenge because, as noted in the play, many people who had tried before were either killed, or beaten for being a “nigger lover”. Jessica encounters many other students who want to be part of the movement, thinking it was beyond herself, and her life.
Emotions are very tense amongst the group, worried whether or not it’s worth the risk, whether or not it’s safe enough for the others, and wondering if they’ll make a difference in the long run. It brings the audience to an exciting ending, which is whether or not they survive Mississippi, and whether they made an impact in that society after all.
"College Play Sets Its Sights on the Civil Rights Era"
By Alan Wu
From the first settlers in America to the current ones, they had one idea at mind--freedom and opportunity. In the early years of American history, slavery was encouraged and was central to the success of the Southern plantations. After the bloody Civil War, nearly a century after America's independence, slavery officially became illegal with the 13th Amendment. Even so, the newly naturalized African Americans faced discrimination everywhere they went.
The South was notorious for its racism. Hate groups such as the KKK formed to specifically target African Americans. They were beaten, hanged, and were often forced to live in terrible conditions while police and local elected officials did nothing.
In the play, Freedom High, professional and amateur actors take on the role of civil rights activists who travel to Mississippi during the summer of 1964 in order to help register African American for voting.
Queens College hosted the play due to their historic involvement surrounding the events of Freedom High. The characters in the play were actual students who attended Queens College and felt the need to make things right. The Civil Rights movement was just underway and it wouldn't have been possible if people from around the country didn't see racial discrimination as evil.
The play provided insight for those who were not around during this period. Through the wonderfully written play and talented acting, we can learn to be grateful to those who have done what others were too afraid to do.