— Free, Staged Readings by Equity Actors and Students
Based on the Story of Slain Civil Rights Workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and
Queens College Student Andrew Goodman —
FLUSHING, NY, February 14, 2014—Freedom High explores the impact of the brutal deaths of civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and QC student Andrew Goodman in June 1964. They died during Freedom Summer, an effort by hundreds of black and white volunteers from all over the country to help African Americans register to vote in the segregated South. Many, like Schwerner and Goodman, were New Yorkers. The three young men were kidnapped and murdered outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, in a case that drew national attention. The play tells this story through the eyes of Jessica Kuplevsky, a white woman who signed up to register black voters without understanding the dangers she might confront. With the deaths of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman, she faces a terrifying test of faith.
Freedom High, written by Adam Kraar, premiered at Queens College in 2007 as a production in development. With a cast of theatre students directed by Drama Professor Susan Einhorn, it was the first QC production to travel to a professional venue, giving two performances at Queens Theatre in the Park. Since then, Kraar and Einhorn have continued to collaborate on a revised script that will be heard this month for the first time.
The new production—a staged reading with music—features a multiracial cast of six Equity actors and eight QC students. This is the largest number of Equity actors to ever appear in a QC production, and the students, who will participate in a weeklong workshop on rehearsal techniques, will learn by working directly with professionals. The performances are co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding, and the Department of Drama, Theatre & Dance.
Adam Kraar, who teaches playwriting and acting at Adelphi University and the New York Institute of Technology, has also written a quartet of plays about American families living in Asia (where he himself grew up). His work has been produced and developed at Primary Stages, the Public Theatre, Theatreworks U.S.A., and many other venues. Director Susan Einhorn has headed the QC acting program for 30 years. She has directed more than 75 productions of dramas, comedies, musicals, and operas, and specializes in developing new work, including more than 35 premieres.
All performances are free. They will take place on Sunday, February 23, at 2 pm and Monday, February 24, at 10 am in the Goldstein Theatre at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts (located on the QC campus in Flushing at the corner of Kissena Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway, off exit 24). At least 300 students from Queens high schools will attend the Monday morning performance. In addition, there will be a final free performance on Monday, February 24, at 7:30 pm at Theater for the New City in Manhattan (155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets).
Queens College of the City University of New York enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its over 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college was cited this year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 150 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. In 2013, Washington Monthly ranked QC #1 among “Master’s Universities” as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck college and #2 nationwide among only 349 colleges that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.