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New play explores life and death of a local Black Abolitionist

Posted by Marcia Dick  October 23, 2013 05:35 PM

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Playwright Peter Snoad (left) stands outside a South Boston cemetery, site of the unmarked grave of 19th-century abolitionist David Walker. Walker is played by Ricardo Engermann (right) in Snoad’s new play, "Raising David Walker," opening at Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall this week.

For many, South Boston remains synonymous with the turbulent 1970s’ Boston Busing Crisis. But it’s also home to an unmarked grave of an important 19th-century African-American figure. Who he was and how he wound up dead is at the center of a new play entitled "Raising David Walker," by Peter Snoad.

"I was amazed to discover David Walker myself, and to learn that so few people know of him and his extraordinary contribution to the movement to end slavery,” said Snoad, a British-born playwright who made Jamaica Plain his home 25 years ago. “I wanted to share his inspirational story and to connect it with the ongoing contemporary struggle for racial justice.”

Raising David Walker" opens Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St. in Roxbury, with a second 7:30 p.m. performance on Friday, Oct. 25, and 4:30 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26 and 27. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For more information, go to www.hibernianhall.org or call 617-849-3622. 

The play opens in September 1979, less than 24 hours after Darryl Williams, a high school football player from Roxbury, was shot on the sidelines during a game in Charlestown. The plots tells the story of Serena Fox, a student of forensics, and her quest to discover whether abolitionist David Walker died of tuberculosis – as official records suggest – or was assassinated. 

Walker was born in the Cape Fear area of North Carolina and moved to Boston in 1825, where he became a leader in the fight for African-American rights. He died in 1830.

hi res Kris pix .jpgDirected by Vincent Ernest Siders, the play stars newcomers Shanae Burch as Serena Fox, and Jem Wilner as her boyfriend, Josh McCaffrey. The production also features three popular actors in the Boston theater scene. They include Kris Sidberry (right) as Serena’s cousin Chiku Holmes; Diego Arciniegas as Serena’s professor Tom Kellett; and Ricardo Engermann in the role of David Walker. The play is produced by Hibernian Hall, which is owned and operated by Madison Park Development Corporation. 

"We’re delighted to premiere the play,” said Hibernian Hall artistic director Dillon Bustin, who attended staged readings of Snoad’s play in Cambridge and Newark before bringing the story to Boston for the first time. 

For more information, please contact Clennon L. King at 207-450-3585 or at Clennon@augustinemonica.com


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The cast includes (l-r) Diego Arciniegas as Serena’s professor Tom Kellett, Ricardo Engermann as David Walker, Shanae Burch as Serena, and Jem Wilner as Serena’s boyfriend Josh McCaffrey.

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