CHARLOTTE — From 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, Middlebury College Professors Michole Biancosino and Claudio Medeiros and Town Hall Theater (THT) will present a play reading of “The Agitators” outdoors at Clemmons Family Farm.
The play, written by Mat Smart, profiles the 45-year friendship of leading women’s suffrage advocate Susan B. Anthony and escaped slave turned civil rights leader Frederick Douglass.
“Do you believe this can ever be a country for all?” Susan B. Anthony asks Frederick Douglass on the day they first meet. This question is a focal point of “The Agitators,” a play that explores the shared dreams, disagreements, and defiance of two great American leaders, both agitating for someone else’s rights.
“‘The Agitators’ is a stunningly beautiful play that chronicles the long friendship between two abolitionists, yet the themes of the play resonate strongly today as our nation contemplates the upcoming election,” Biancosino, who is directing, said.
“As you hear the words of Frederick Douglass, a man fighting to be seen as equal to and given the same rights as any other man, you can’t help but draw a historical line from the mid-1800s to our current political and historical moment,” Biancosino added.
“I think the arts, and theater in particular, can be a place where we come together to consider our humanity as a community and ask difficult questions,” Biancosino said, encouraging us to consider: “What type of society do we live in today? What society do we want for our future? And what are we as individuals willing to do to create a more just and equal world?”
With Middlebury College closed to the public, Biancosino decided to take the final event in the college’s 21st-Century Theatre Festival, “The Agitators,” on the road in order to safely live-stream the production to students on campus.
Working with Town Hall Theater, Biancosino and Town Hall Theater Executive Director Lisa Mitchell quickly found a perfect partner in the Clemmons Family Farm. Community building, education and a commitment to providing a shared value and sense of place for Black-owned land are hallmarks of the farm’s mission.
“Steeped in African history, art, and heritage, and with a natural outdoor amphitheater overlooking the Adirondacks, the Clemmons Family Farm brings a deeply meaningful sense of place to ‘The Agitators’,” Mitchell said.
This is the Clemmons Family Farm’s first outdoor program in 2020 owing to the pandemic. “We could not be more pleased to have the opportunity to co-host this timely and important play,” said Lydia Clemmons, president of the Clemmons Family Farm.
All ticket holders will be notified of safety protocols, including mandatory mask wearing upon entry, exit and when away from their designated, distanced-seating areas. Bring blankets, chairs and dress for an outdoor show, keeping in mind that seating will be on a grass lawn with a slope. If you require special access or assistance to be seated, please let the organizers know in advance. Tickets are will-call only on the day of the event.
Tickets are limited and free but must be reserved in advance (in lieu of a ticket price, consider donating to Town Hall Theater or the Clemmons Family Farm; go online to townhalltheater.org or www.clemmonsfamilyfarm.org The Clemmons Family Farm is at 2190 Greenbush Road (behind the Authentica Art Gallery).