SINCE 1978, MAD RIVER THEATER WORKS HAS MADE OVER 30 ORIGINAL PLAYS WITH MUSIC. TODAY SIX OF THESE ONE-ACT SHOWS ARE IN TOURING ROTATION. THEY ARE:
WALK ON: THE STORY OF ROSA PARKS
The tremors of an earthquake were rumbling across America. A new kind of music was making its first appearance on the radio and parents were outraged. While the rhythms of rock and roll were shaking the social fabric of the country, deep down an even more important transformation was about to take place. In Montgomery, Alabama, a determined activist named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus. The resulting uproar launched the Civil Rights movement and changed our country forever. Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks weaves together music and drama to tell the story of Rosa Parks from her childhood in rural Alabama to her famous decision to “sit down and be counted.” The play dispels myths about Parks and her protest as it paints a portrait of complex woman who had to find reconciliation within herself in order to become an effective Civil Right leader. Exciting and inspirational, Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks shows how the determination of one individual made all the difference in the struggle for freedom and equality in the United States.
There is a story connected with the Underground Railroad in countless communities throughout the north. Old houses have secret tunnels leading into the woods, attics with hidden stairways. The "Railroad" was a network of friends who helped slaves escape to freedom in THE NORTH AND ON TO Canada before the Civil War. This turbulent period of history is the subject of Freedom Bound, a ONE-ACT play with music by Mad River Theater Works. Freedom Bound revolves around the most famous incident in the history of the Underground Railroad in Ohio: the story of Addison White, an escaped slave, and his rescue by the citizens of the town of Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Freedom Bound brings history to life through original songs and an array of characters that pop right out of the past to relive the TURBULENCE AND HOPE of the Underground Railroad right before your eyes.
WINGS OF COURAGE
Eugene Bullard's story would be unbelievable if it were not all true. He was a professional boxer and a World War I flying ace. He was a jazz musician. He was a spy. Who was this remarkable African-American? Born in Columbus, Georgia, Bullard traveled the world. He joined the French Foreign Legion after being denied a meaningful place in the United States Army. He rose through the ranks and flew against the famous "Red Baron" as a part of the Lafayette Escadrille. But when the Escadrille was incorporated into the new U.S. Army Air Corps in 1917, the color of Bullard's skin prevented him from taking his place alongside the other American heroes of his day. But that didn't stop him. He went on to fame as a bandleader in Paris during the 1920's and was a spy against the Nazis. Wings of Courage shows how Bullard's determination and perseverance helped him to overcome discrimination throughout his life. It is an uplifting tale of vision and hope.
John Henry is a well-known figure of American folklore. Born in poverty in rural West Virginia, John Henry's incredible size and strength became legendary as he worked laying track for the railroads that criss-crossed the countryside in the late nineteenth century. No one could match his skill or his endurance, until the invention of the steam-powered driver, that is. We remember John Henry for his famous contest with this newfangled machine. John won the day, but died soon afterwards of a broken heart. John Henry realized that ordinary men could not compete with the iron workhorses of the industrial revolution and that the days of men like him were numbered.
THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY
At the start of the summer of 1947, television was brand new, the sound barrier had never been broken, and baseball was a white man's game. By the time the fall arrived, all that had changed. President Truman addressed the nation for the first time on TV, Chuck Yeager flew faster than any Jackie Robinson at batman ever had, and Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball. It was no accident that Jackie Robinson was chosen as the first ballplayer to break the color barrier in the sport known as America's pastime...
There were plenty of good athletes in the Negro Leagues: some maybe even better than Jackie. But when Branch Rickey decided to add a black person to the Brooklyn Dodgers, he knew that individual had to be special. He had to be strong enough to stand up to the teammates who would abuse him, and the pitchers who would throw at him, and the fans who would send him death threats. He had to be able to turn the other cheek, to show that he was bigger than all that. He had to prove that he could be everybody's hero. Everybody's Hero: The Jackie Robinson Story shows the events that shaped Jackie's character, his struggle to gain acceptance, and the tremendous obstacles he overcame on his way to changing the face of our nation.
FREEDOM RIDERS IS THE LATEST EDITION TO THE CANON OF AMERICAN HISTORY PLAYS BY MAD RIVER. IT EXPLORES THE VALIANT AND COURAGEOUS PERSONALITIES BEHIND ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL CHAPTERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. THE PLAY DEMONSTRATES THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING TOGETHER TO AFFECT CHANGE AND SPECIFICALLY HOW NON-VIOLENT PROTEST WAS USED TO COMBAT THE CRUELTIES OF SEGREGATION. SET IN 1961, FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT HAD OUTLAWED SEGREGATION, BUS LINES LINES AND CITIES THROUGHOUT THE SOUTH STILL ENFORCED A RIGID SYSTEM OF SEPARATING BLACK AND WHITE CITIZENS. THE FREEDOM RIDERS, BOTH BLACK AND WHITE AMERICANS, DECIDED TO TRAVEL TOGETHER ON BUSES THAT CROSSED STATE LINES PURPOSEFULLY DISREGARDING THE HATEFUL SEGREGATION PRACTICES THAT WERE STILL COMMONPLACE IN SO MANY PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE UNFORGETTABLE HEROES AND THE FACTS BEHIND THE EVENTS PORTRAYED IN FREEDOM RIDERS ARE ESSENTIAL TO A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA AND AMERICAN HISTORY.