Possessing Harriet Chosen for New York State Summer School of the Arts Program

Possessing Harriet Chosen for New York State Summer School of the Arts Program Poster for Summer 2017OHA is proud to announce Possessing Harriet has been chosen for a New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) performance at SUNY Delhi, which will take place on July 11th.

The New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA), celebrating its 48th season in 2017, is a summer arts residential intensive program funded by the New York State Education Department and student tuition. The four week, pre-professional summer curriculum includes individual and group instruction designed to help each student explore and develop his or her talents in ballet, choral studies, modern dance, visual arts, media arts, orchestral studies or theatre. Approximately 6-8 hours a day, six days a week, are spent working in the student’s area of concentration. Students will live in a college dorm and take classes from college professors and working performing/visual artists. All students attending NYSSSA must reside at the host campus – a commuter option is not available.

Possessing Harriet concerns the compelling story of runaway slave, Harriet Powell, and her harrowing escape through the Underground Rail Road network in Syracuse and Central New York in 1839. During her escape, she was temporarily housed in the mansion of legendary abolitionist Gerrit Smith in Peterboro. While there, she had a long and emotional discussion with Smith’s cousin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who became one of the most famous women’s rights activists in history. The conversation cemented Stanton’s resolve to fight against the institution of slavery and she often referred to the encounter throughout the rest of her life.

Though the histories of both Stanton and Powell are well documented, the contents of their private discussion on that pivotal day were never disclosed by either woman. Possessing Harriet centers on that discussion and constitutes the heart of the play.

In 2016, Possessing Harriet was chosen by Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre, a professional equity theater, for its New Play Development Program at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.

See the cast for the July 11th reading below:

  • Rachel Towne = ELIZABETH CADY
  • Mitch Tebo = GERRIT SMITH
  • Godfrey Simmons = TOM LEONARD
  • Evelyn Howe = HARRIET POWELL