Portland, Ore., native Samantha Newcomb is a senior acting major who recently shared her thoughts on “Night Runner,” one of The Theatre School’s current productions. “Night Runner” will be performed at the Merle Reskin Theatre through Feb. 18. Tickets are available here.
This post has been edited and reprinted with permission from DeBlogs.
With the start of a new quarter comes the start of a new round of shows at The Theatre School. The first to open on the Main Stage in 2017 is an exciting new play, “Night Runner.” This action-packed show has generated a lot of buzz for being a brand-new play by Chicago playwright and former Theatre School student Ike Holter. The play takes place in the South in the mid 1800s and revolves around a huge part of our nation’s history at that point: slavery. Essentially a thriller about the heroism of Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad and the path to freedom, this play takes a look at history through the unique lens of a comic book superhero.
Part of our Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series, the show is performed for students and families downtown at our Merle Reskin Theatre. Each year, hundreds of kids from across the city are exposed to the magical world of theatre through this program. They are immersed in a story that asks them to use their imagination and learn new things. Often, these students don’t get to go on many field trips or are new to theatre, and this is what makes it so special to share the experience with them. This is a unique and special moment in their week, and, possibly, in their lives.
Personally, as a young woman of color, I know how important it is to see yourself represented in the art, literature and entertainment that surrounds you. Having been in a children’s show myself, I have seen the large and diverse audiences. Many of these students are young people of color, and I see myself in them, 10 years ago. Wide eyed and expectant, they are taking in everything around them, which makes it extremely important to consider what kinds of stories you share with these young people.
As a young black woman, the reason I am so excited for this show is that it shows my history–our history as Americans, in a way that empowers and celebrates the strength of my community. It is important that those hundreds of kids of all colors and backgrounds learn about the horrors of American slavery, the heroism of Harriet Tubman and the strength that all people have inside them. By diversifying who appears on stage and showing history in this light, we can have a profound impact on the education and empowerment of these young kids. With the incorporation of beautiful new music, and exciting rhythm and dance, a scary and uncomfortable topic transforms into a story that will leave audiences cheering as our young heroine makes her way to freedom.
Due to the seriousness of the subject matter, this play is recommended for audiences nine years of age and older. To find out more, visit the show’s website.