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The Lookout | January 22, 2018

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‘Spirit’ fills Black Box Theatre

‘Spirit’ fills Black Box Theatre
The Lookout

Jeremy Kohn
Editor in Chief

Students and faculty were taken on a trip through the 1800s on March 2 as the Black Box Theater presented a production of “Where Spirit Rides.”

“Where Spirit Rides” is a solo theater performance that was written and performed by actress Lisa Biggs. The play revolves around a Quaker religious meeting in 1831 where abolitionist Abby Kelley becomes possessed by the ghost of a once-enslaved Black woman.

The idea for the play came to Biggs when she read an article about Abby Kelley while she was attending Northwood University in 2008.

“The author revealed that Kelley and others believed in the possibility of transmigration of the soul … meaning that their bodies could be inhabited or possessed by the ghosts or spirits of others,” Biggs said.

After reading this article, Kelley began researching and writing the screenplay of what would become “Where Spirit Rides.”

“I read several biographies about her life … I researched abolitionist newspapers and organized tactics and read widely about those she corresponded with,” she said.

The actress plays several characters during the 75-minute show, including famous African-Americans Angelina Grimke, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Dolly Harris.

Biggs talked about the challenge of playing several roles on stage.

“I struggle to embody the character of the ghost, who is performed through West African dances,” Biggs said. “The problem is not the choreography so much as the underlying question of what she is trying to express (and) achieve in each moment.”

After Biggs’ performance, LCC students and faculty participated in a discussion about the play in the Centre for Engaged Inclusion.

Centre for Engaged Inclusion Coordinator and LCC Sociology Professor Kali Majumdar spoke about the event.

“I would say that this program kind of bridged the Black History Month and the Woman’s History Month,” Majumdar said.  “It was from the perspective of a white woman who was possessed by an African American woman slave … she spoke as a slave owner, an anti-suffragist, a white woman, a black woman … It was told from a lot of different perspectives.”

For more information about Biggs and her theatrical work visit her website at lisabiggs.org/

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