FREE EVENT: Original Play Inspired by Events of Freedom Summer 1964

Stacy P. Sherman
Marketing Specialist
Ph: (262) 472-5705
Date: November 6, 2014
FREE EVENT: Dramatic Play “Freedom High” Inspired by Events of Freedom Summer 1964
WHITEWATER – Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater Contemporary Issues, and UPROOTED theatre
from Milwaukee are pleased to bring the world premiere of “Freedom High” to audiences – for FREE on Monday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m. The performance will take place on the Young Auditorium
stage in Whitewater. An optional Soundbites event is also starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Young
Auditorium Main Lobby. Soundbites is an opportunity for guests to be a part of a discussion about the
performance before it begins with members of the production. Additionally, a question-and-answer
session follows the performance. This is a FREE event, but tickets must be reserved.
Young Auditorium and UPROOTED theatre have been growing their partnership since 2011 to further
both of their missions of bringing education, cultural enrichment, enlightenment, and entertainment to
audiences through the power of performing arts. Their current collaboration involves producing the
premiere production of “Freedom High” from script to stage.
UW-Whitewater desires a reputation as an institution of higher learning that truly values and nurtures
diverse intellectual, cultural, creative and service opportunities, and helps students thrive in a diverse
environment. The university employs several strategies for bringing this aspect of their mission to life;
one way is through the UW-Whitewater Annual Campus Diversity Forum. The Forum’s purpose is to
provide instructors with opportunities for engaging adult students in conversation about diversity.
The current Forum theme for 2014 is “A 50 Year Retrospective: A Conversation on Race,” which was
inspired by the 50 year anniversary of the twin passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965
Voting Rights Act. It is also inspired by recent reports on racial disparities in Wisconsin. It is fitting for
the production of “Freedom High” to be offered during the existing awareness surrounding the 50 year
anniversary dates of so many important outcomes from 1964 – including the 1964 Mississippi
Freedom Summer Project.
In 2012, the Forum theme was “Student Leadership and Inclusive Excellence.” The 2012 Forum
highlighted the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, as the project revealed the transformative
power of student leadership and engagement, and contributed to a legacy of civil rights and social
justice that remains with us to this day. Guest speakers that year included a Civil Rights Movement
Veteran (, actual Freedom Summer volunteers and Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) organizers, and the very well-known SNCC member and educator, Bob Moses.
All of these individuals are a living part of what was Freedom Summer 50 years ago. It was a short
time after this particular Forum that UW-Whitewater was introduced to Adam Kraar’s script for the
dramatic play – “Freedom High,” and engaged UPROOTED theatre in the project.
“Freedom High” is a brand new, historically accurate fictional play written by Adam Kraar. The
production is a “memory piece,” or a play written from one or several individuals’ viewpoints of past
events. The scenes offered are intended to show memories and make strong impressions on the
audience. The roots of the play are founded in actual events, but the characters involved are not. The
playwright has conducted extensive research and uses fact and imagination to write how his
characters may have felt and responded during the real situations presented during Freedom
Summer 1964.
The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project was developed in an effort to integrate Mississippi’s
segregated political system. Nonviolent civil rights activists organized African American voter
registration, Freedom Rides (integrated travel on interstate commercial buses), and sit-ins.
Volunteers – many of them young college students – were recruited for training in nonviolent
resistance at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, June 15-28, 1964.
Mississippi’s black residents (a majority in many counties) were systematically excluded from politics
by arbitrary literacy tests and taxes as well as other forms of legal discrimination. Those who wanted
to exercise their right to vote were harassed and beaten; they faced the potential loss of their jobs,
and they were threatened and intimidated by the Ku Klux Klan. Few black residents of Mississippi
took the chance of attempting to register to vote.
Freedom Summer organizers, including the SNCC, felt that helping African Americans register to vote
and participate in politics in Mississippi would help break down the racial barriers in the South. The
major goal of Freedom Summer was to empower Mississippi’s black residents to participate in local,
state and national politics. The project also aimed to focus the nation’s attention on conditions in
Mississippi to force the issue of the federal government passing laws to protect all U.S. citizens.
The main character in the play “Freedom High” is a 21-year-old white woman, who arrives on the
campus of Western College in Oxford, Ohio to be trained as a volunteer for the Freedom Summer
Project. In six days, she will leave the sheltered campus for Mississippi to help register AfricanAmerican voters. The play is a representation of her memories and impressions. The true and major
events of the week of June 21, 1964 are also depicted in the play – including the disappearance of
three young men: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner. The public speeches of
Bob Moses are also essentially drawn from his actual speeches.
Dean of the UW-Whitewater College of Arts and Communication, Mark McPhail, states, “For
students, the play is one way to expose them to the work that many Civil Rights Veterans have done
and still do to combat social injustices today; to become familiar with people that have fought and
struggled so we can have the rights that we do now and reflect upon their vivid first-hand accounts of
what occurred in recent history.”
McPhail continues, “I think one of the most impactful things that ‘Freedom High’ can provide
audiences with is a sense of empowerment for making a difference in the world if they so choose.
Several of the Civil Rights Movement Veterans’ involvement in changing the course of history started
when they were the same age as many college students are now. Freedom Summer was led by
young people. Very simply stated – 19-20 year old college students changed the world. This
realization may make one reflect on one’s own ability to influence change in the world, and the result
of that reflection can be a very powerful – and hopefully inspiring – thing.”
“Freedom High” director, Marti Gobel, is also a UW-Whitewater alumna and one of UPROOTED
theatre’s founders. She states, “UPROOTED theatre has worked tirelessly to represent the many
voices found within the African American Community through its works. It is sometimes missed,
however, that many of the voices found within the African American Community are those of the
Caucasian American. ‘Freedom High’ serves as a wonderful reminder that the struggle for the African
American prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement was carried on the backs of the Caucasian
American as well. Many suffered for their pains, believing that the need for movement for all citizens’
rights in America was universally important. I believe this story is a clear reflection of this fact.”
UPROOTED theatre is the only African-American production company in the state of Wisconsin.
Their mission is to educate, enrich and entertain. UPROOTED theatre provides a vital outlet through
the Performing Arts for the exploration and expression of the human experience. Through its works
and programs, UPROOTED theatre unites people of differing racial and socioeconomic backgrounds,
religious and cultural beliefs, and genders and sexual orientations. Integrity and professionalism are
essential to UPROOTED theatre’s success in these challenging endeavors.
Additional information, media, and resources about this production can be found on the Young
Auditorium website at:
This is a free event, but tickets must be reserved. Tickets can be reserved online (small fees apply for
online orders), by calling the Box Office at (262) 472-2222, or in person. Tickets that are purchased
online can also be printed at home. The Greenhill Center of the Arts Box Office is located inside the
UW-Whitewater Center of the Arts building near Barnett Theatre on the UW-Whitewater Campus (930
West Main Street in Whitewater). The Young Auditorium is adjacent to this building, and parking is
always free at the venue. To learn more, visit or follow at