By Mark A. Leon
The United States built a foundation on an inherent lie, noted in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
All men are indeed not created equal, nor are women and children.? We are a collective pot of unique thoughts, ideas, talents, backgrounds and beliefs.? We are born with the gift of life which comes with it, free will.
No evidence more evident than the stories of the original freedom fighters, Colonel William Rhett, Captain Henry Felder, Rebecca Brewton Motte, John Laurens, John Featherston, Emily Geiger, Peter Harris, Francis Marion and Mary Tenor.? You may not know all these individuals by name, but their contributions collectively led to the privileges we all enjoy today.
Nine individuals of such differing backgrounds with one common thread, the passion to pursue to rights of all individuals to live under a free sky.
Lowcountry Revolutionaries! America’s First Freedom Fighters is a reminder of the culture and values that Charleston and the South are built upon.? As we look around and see the modern development and explosion of real estate and hotels, we are forced to reflect on a time that was and a time that will be.? Charleston is losing its roots and this play, in a way, is a new fight for the values and retention of the history that has made Charleston the Jewel of the South.? In 1760, lives were sacrificed for freedom.? Today, we must honor them and preserve what we have built.
Over the course of this 70 minute, one act play, our senses are awakened by storytellers of the past; narrative ghost stories of ordinary men and women that risked their lives in preservation of a principle.
The time-period is 1760-1783, blacks, whites, Indians, women, men and children all lived on the same land, each with their own individual struggles of change and survival.? Somehow, so many came together to raise their hands and weapons to the tyranny of the British rule.? It was a time of compromise, risk and sacrifice.? Some survived, some perished, but freedom was attained.
This is a poignant series of stories that pulls the audience in from the very opening monologue and musical accord.? With each character taking center stage, the rest of the cast surrounded the theater, cheering, singing and reiterating the words of these powerful stories while Tracy Bush, founder & director of Taiko Charleston, created the sounds of the times from unnerving anticipation to gun shots in the distance.? The echo in the room and surround sound effect created a setting of almost being alive in that era.
David Perez, played John Featherston, a Navy man.? David, himself a 10-year veteran of the Air Force, serving 5 tours in Afghanistan and around the world, brought a powerful presence and respect to the stage with the embodiment of a man who fought 230 years ago as told through the vocals of a soldier who fights for our freedoms today.
Dante Rollerson as Peter Harris, a Catawba Indian, who fought with the Patriots was a performance ripe with unadulterated emotion.? He strength on stage and personal struggles his character made in the decision to fight for his land showed so clearly in his eyes and storytelling prowess.
Chris Weatherhead and Clarence Felder, whose relationship has spanned many decades from coast to coast and keeps getting stronger with each passing day, acted beautifully together.? Their affections could be seen from the back of the room and outlined so well that life was difficult during this period, but perseverance and love are powerful tools in overcoming adversity.
Robbin Knight, carried his film performance of John Laurens forward to the live stage recalling his personal journey to end slavery, 80 years before his time.? Until several Red Coat bullets would take his life, he never gave up on his commitment to create a land where all men and women have the same opportunities to be free.
In the Lowcountry, there are some roles you do not take lightly, and Francis Marion, Swamp Fox, is one of them. Michael Easler, brought a frailty and intimacy to his performance.? As the older, worn down version of the great tactical leader, Mr. Easler told very personal accounts as he limped across the stage.? It was a different man that we see on the statues or in the old paintings.? It was a man that understood his mortality and the men he lost along the way.? He came to grips with the sacrifices he made and was ready to share his story with all of us.
Myra Jones (Emily Geiger) and Michelle Warren (Mary Tenor) were superb in each of their own respective ways.? Myra brought an Irish accent so real to life and a candid portrayal of life as a woman, you felt comfort and empathy.? Michelle brought strength to her monologue.? With a powerful voice and a jovial laugh, she left it all on the stage, just the way her character who have done herself.
Our future is only as safe as about ability to remember and learn from the past.? Lowcountry Revolutionaries is an educational, entertaining and important look at our past as told by seven characters, with very personal accounts of a time when fighting for freedom was all they knew.
Their touching recollections remind us that we can’t lose sight or take advantage of what we have.? No matter what, we must remember those that helped light the fire of freedom.
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