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Practice Stories from the Field

Vol. 19 No. 1

The Impact of Socially Engaged Theatre Across Communities: A Tale of Two Slave Cabins

March 20, 2015


What happens when one controversial text meets another in performance? How do diverse audiences from rural and metropolitan areas respond to powerful yet provocative material? The Kennesaw State University Department of Theatre and Performance Studies sought to answer these questions with Splittin’ the Raft, a dramatic adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as interpreted by ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the ensemble toured seven North Georgia communities, ranging from inner-city schools to rural mountain towns. The struggles faced and the conversations encountered prove the lasting legacy of American slavery. Socially engaged theatre can create a unique forum for constructive dialogue within communities. This article highlights the healing conversations inspired by this student production and explores some widely contrasting responses to renovated slave dwellings in two Georgia communities, Oxford and Sautee Nacoochee.