The musical drama “Go Tell It! A Harriet Tubman Christmas Story” takes one back in time to the day before Christmas in 1854 when Harriet Tubman discovered that her brothers, enslaved in Maryland, were to be sold at the auction on December 26.
With a steely determination, Harriet went back to Maryland to the plantation where she had once been enslaved to lead her brothers to freedom in the north. On December 29, she, her brothers and several others walked safely into William Still’s Anti-Slavery office in Philadelphia.
The play, written and directed by Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu, tells their incredible story and how the coded messages in Spirituals helped guide the way. It features original musical arrangements of classic Spirituals like “Go Tell It”, and performances by the Lyric Dance and Vocal Ensemble, the Vukani Mawethu choir, and students of Lyric Performing Arts Academy.
Before writing “Go Tell It!” Kujichagulia-Seitu researched the earliest collection of Spirituals and slave narratives, and found that songs were coded for messages to escape from plantations during slavery.
Through traditional West African dance and drumming, Spirituals, monologues and vignettes, the play tells a story of unshakable faith, unwavering determination, and an uncompromising commitment to freedom. It introduces countless self-liberators throughout the antebellum south and those people who trusted Harriet to guide them safely to the Promised Land.
The show is an alternative to traditional holiday offerings and educational as well.
“I thought it would be wonderful to put these songs onstage in a production to show how they were used on the plantation,” said writer/director Kujichagulia-Seitu, who has produced the show for the past three years through the Lyric Performing Arts Academy.
She co-founded the faith-based performing arts company with her twin sister and their partners.
“My goal is to really educate people about Spirituals and about the history of African American people because it’s a beautiful history. We want to be accessible to everybody.”
The musical recently opened at Skyline High School’s Farnsworth Theater. Additional performances will held on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. at The Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.
For more information and tickets, visit www.gotellit.info.