Meadville Tribune

October 31, 2013

Theatre performance based on local Underground Railroad, Civil Rights experiences is Friday and Saturday


The Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — Student Experimental Theatre at Allegheny College presents two performances of “Our Own Sounds,” a Meadville community-based theatre piece by Katie Beck about the Underground Railroad and the struggle for civil rights. The play is Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Arter Little Theatre on the Allegheny campus and Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Bethel AME Church, at the corner of Arch and Liberty streets in Meadville.

The performances are part of the college’s Year of Civil Rights, which celebrates the 50th anniversary in 2014 of the Civil Rights Act. Admission is free, but donations for Bethel AME will be accepted.

One of the founding trustees of Bethel AME was Richard Henderson, who escaped slavery himself and later helped lead the local Underground Railroad network. A historical marker outside the Bethel AME Church notes that Henderson’s Meadville home gave safe haven to about 500 escaped slaves prior to the Civil War.

“Our Own Sounds” represents Beck’s senior project at Allegheny College. A theatre major with a minor in values, ethics and social action, Beck did research on the Underground Railroad in Meadville and conducted interviews and story circles with members of the Bethel AME congregation to learn more about the struggle for civil rights in Meadville. She wrote her play based on the stories she heard, including as many voices as she could, to give the audience a sense of both the struggle to escape slavery in the 1800s and the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.

The cast for “Our Own Sounds” is made up of members of the local community, including Allegheny students. Acting in the production are Chaz Chambers, JJ Chambers, Samiyah Chambers, Luke Davis, Aaliyah Gordon, Maya Jones, Mattie McKines, Mikel Prester, Leanne Siwicki, Amanda Warner and Eric Warner.

n More information: Email beckk@allegheny.edu.