A $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grant will help support a collaboration between Wake Forest University and Loire Valley Theater Festival, Inc. (LVTF) to bring the civil rights musical drama, “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom,” to Wake Forest University in October 2023.
“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” is based on the award-winning memoir by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. The play tells the story of the young people in Selma, Alabama, who risked their lives in 1965 to win the right to vote for African Americans.
Jailed nine times before the march and badly beaten on Bloody Sunday, Lynda Blackmon and her neighbors fought alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to secure the right to vote for African Americans. She believed that “a voteless people is a hopeless people,” and put her life on the line, non-violently, to prove that anyone can change history no matter how young or powerless they seem.
The show will feature an ensemble of actor-singers who bring the 1960s to life on the stage through the music of the Civil Rights Movement. The play will be held on Wake Forest University’s Tedford Stage and directed by Jackie Alexander, artistic director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre in Winston-Salem.
Joshuah Brian Campbell, director of music and arts at the Wake Forest School of Divinity and director of the University Gospel Choir and Miranda Barry, producer and founder of Loire Valley Theater Festival collaborated on the NEA proposal awarded to LVTF to produce a new version of the play with a community-based choir. Campbell is the music director for the production.