Frederick Douglass “the Heroic Slave” a Play

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“That accursed and crawling snake, that miserable reptile that has just glided into its slimy home, is freer and better off than I. Here am I a man, yes a man! Yet he is my superior, and scorns to own me as his master” (Douglass 177). The Heroic Slave is a fictional novel written by Frederick Douglass loosely based on actual people and events. It depicts actions that took place during the 1841 hijacking of the Creole by the 135 slaves on board and focuses on the life of Madison Washington. I chose to adapt this novel into a play as to portray the rawness of these events and allow the audience to feel the events as they unfold rather than just watching them on screen or reading them in a book. I think that viewing these events in person as opposed to watching a movie or reading them allows you to better relate to what is happening. The audience sees these events first hand and can relate to it better as apposed to watching or reading. This can sometimes hinder the imagination or make it seem like more of a fantasy. People associate better with things they can reach out and touch. The play starts out with a forest setting and a man standing alone wearing tattered clothes. The surroundings are darkened and a spotlight shines down on Madison Washington. He says, “What then is life to me? It is aimless and worthless, and worse than worthless. Those birds, perched on yon swinging boughs, in friendly concave, sounding forth their merry notes in seeming worship of the rising sun, though liable to the sportsman’s fowling-piece, are still my superiors. They live free though they may die slaves. They fly where they list by day, and retire in freedom at night” (176). A man a short distance away traveling in the woods over hears Madison speech and draws nearer but out of sight to listen. The most important theme portrayed is that of black enslaved men having the ability and power to exercise some level of self-rule over their condition. The mutiny led by Washington on...
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