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Don’t risk your life for a fairy tale the white folk tell ya
— Bert from Henry's Freedom Box

Full-Length Theater for Young Audiences Musical, no Intermission
Book & Lyrics by Christina Ham
Music & Lyrics by David Simmons
11B, 4G and a chorus of various genders and ages under 18-years of age

MP3 Files for the Music from this Play Available Upon Request

Based on the events in the life of Henry "Box" Brown, a Virginia slave who shrewdly escaped to Philadelphia through a single act of cunning.

Born enslaved in Louisa County, VA Brown was separated from his mother at age fifteen and sent to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond, VA where the hours were long and brutal. He befriends a young girl named Nancy whom he falls in love with who is a slave on a nearby plantation. As their friendship continues to blossom, and the pressure to produce at the tobacco factory continues to mount, catastrophic circumstances ensue that makes Henry attempt to escape to freedom. With the aid of his best friend James, a free black man, and Samuel, an abolitionist, Henry decides to ship himself in a box from Richmond to Philadelphia.

This play uses period music to capture the story of this creative, unique, and dangerous endeavor as Brown takes the 27-hour journey being shipped in a box traveling by wagons, railroads, steamboats, and ferries (most of the time turned upside down) risking his life until he finally makes his way to freedom. This play daringly explores the high cost of freedom.

Please click here for a selection of the play in PDF format



Commission from SteppingStone Theatre  in 2008


February 2010
SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul MN
directed by Richard Hitchler