The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 9, 2013

Youth Museum set to bring ‘Sweet Chariot’ to Beckley

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

— The Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia invites the community to a Theatre IV production based on oral histories of former slaves who escaped to freedom across the Ohio River.

Scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre in Beckley, Leslie Gray Baker, director for the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, said the production ties in with West Virginia’s 150th year celebration and the youth museum’s “Liberty on the Border” exhibit, which focuses on the Civil War’s effect on families, particularly woman and children.

“Sweet Chariot” intersperses a capella spirituals with oral histories from 70, 80, and 90 year-old former slaves who were interviewed during the Federal Writers’ Project under New Deal Legislation in the 1930s.

Those first-hand accounts of the joys and agonies of everyday life and former captives’ efforts to escape slavery bring an historically accurate and honest experience to the production.

Baker said the Youth Museum has a long-standing relationship with Theatre IV and she appreciates that their productions are curriculum-based and highly researched.

“The Youth Museum firmly believes live theater is part of our mission because every child should experience it and, unfortunately, some of our children never get the opportunity to see a live production,” she said.

There will be a 50 minute question-and-answer session following the show.

Baker said, due to the subject matter, the show many not be appropriate for students below the fourth-grade level.

Tickets are $5 per person.

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