Abolitionists' Museum Play
Sheri Bailey is the winner of a 1992 NEA Individual Theatre fellowship and a 2008 Virginia Commission for the Arts fellowship. She was born and raised in Portsmouth, VA. Her writings will be housed in the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. With the goal of healing from the wounds of slavery, without shame or blame, she founded the Juneteenth Festival Company to research and write "history plays" about how the institution of slavery was built in America.
The play: Abolitionists' Museum features the following historical figures: Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, David Walker and Abraham Lincoln. These eight, each of whom had a major impact on the American slavery narrative, are wax figures living in a museum where the curator has recently hung a Confederate flag. Using their actual words from speeches and writings mixed in with contemporary references, playwright Sheri Bailey has them debate and then take a vote on whether or not to burn the rebel flag.
The play captures a robust discussion on slavery and the Confederacy as it poses a compelling contemporary question – How do we, in today’s times, overcome the past? At the play’s conclusion the audience is invited to share their thoughts about the play and the first question asked is this – If you lived in the Abolitionists’ Museum how would you vote – to burn or not to burn the flag?
Abolitionists’ Museum has been performed many times in the Tidewater-Hampton Roads region with great success. This is the perfect time to bring it to Charlottesville. You can see a brief video about the play and the audience reaction by pro and anti-flag advocates at youtube.com/juneteenthva.