The African American Children’s Theater (AACT) will be celebrating Black History Month with the production “Harriet’s Freedom Train” this Saturday, February 26.
Written by internationally recognized arranger and composer Patsy Ford Simms, this Milwaukee AACT staging will open at 1 p.m. at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art, 13th and Clybourn.
According to AACT founder and executive director Constance Clarke, this musical production was selected because Black history is “minimally taught” in our schools, if at all and that our children have little knowledge of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
Born in 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman succeeded in escaping from slavery in 1848. Her freedom is said to have place a heavy burden on her because she believed it was her duty to assist others in their escape attempts.
Nineteen times between 1849 and 1859, she went south of the Mason-Dixon Line to bring a total of 300 escaped enslaved Blacks to the North by way of the route known as the “Underground Railroad”.
Ranging in ages from 8 to 14-years-old, there are 22 young people in this musical. The mission of the African American Children’s Theatre is to provide all children of the metro Milwaukee area with opportunities to express their creativity, to nurture their individuality, and to guide them in learning and acquiring leadership and performance skills while producing quality art.
Clark founded AACT in 1989 seeing a need in the community for adult-directed, nurturing, creative activities for youth. Over nearly 22 years, she has directed all of AACT’s programs, producing more than 45 youth-driven musical theater productions and creating the Academy of Theatre Training and Leadership Development, a unique afterschool theater program which has mentored upwards of 1,000 central city children in the theater arts.
She has been honored for her work with youth with such awards as the Trailblazers Award for Creativity from Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Outstanding Service Award from Potawatomi Bingo-Casino’s Miracle on Canal Street, the Milwaukee County Board’s “Planters of the Positive seed” award and the Jack Rosenberg Award for lifetime commitment to social justice.
Clark received her education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
“Harriet’s Freedom Train” is directed by Jason Drake-Hames, costumes by Becky Peelen and musical direction by Dr. Wallace Cheatham.
For additional information on this production, please call 288-1669.