Mar 07

Boston’s Unfortunate History of Complicity: “The Boston Abolitionists”

Presented by The Poets’ Theatre, and the Boston Athenaeum
Written by David Gullette
Directed by Bob Scanlan

Sunday, March 5, 2017 @ 1:00 P.M.
The Boston Athenaeum
10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) The Boston Athenaeum was the perfect setting for a performance that delved into the city’s complex past. Surrounded by portraits of Boston’s founding fathers, The Poets’ Theatre gave voice to some of Boston lesser-known revolutionaries in this unusual piece.

Challenging the stock image of the 19th century abolitionist as ‘a white man in a black suit’, the actors gave voice to some of the nation’s bravest and most controversial pioneers: escaped slave David Walker, the formidable Maria Stewart and white Southern activist Angelina Grimké among others. The story of Anthony Burns, the escaped slave, who was sent by a Massachusetts judge to return to Virginia and slavery, added a darker tone to the piece. Highlighting the North’s complicity with Southern slavery, Burns’ story reminded the audience that Boston’s history, like the whole country’s, is stained by slavery. Continue reading

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