Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A MIDNIGHT CRY Opens with Special Guest Kimberly Simmons

Malkia Stampley as Lida in
A MIDNIGHT CRY
First Stage's moving historical drama with live music, A MIDNIGHT CRY:  The Underground Railroad to Freedom, opens Friday, January 10 and runs through February 9, 2014 at the Todd Wehr Theater in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Whisperings of a railroad helping slaves across to the free states seem too good to be true to young Lida Anderson. But with the help of other slaves and her family, Lida risks everything to be free. Leaving behind the only life she knows, she embarks on a dangerous journey out of slavery to freedom.  For everyone ages 9 and up.

"A MIDNIGHT CRY is the most powerful, moving, uplifting play I've ever been a part of"
                                    - First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank 

Opening weekend performances of A MIDNIGHT CRY will feature extended talkback sessions with Kimberly Simmons, a direct relative of Caroline Quarlls-Watkins, whose journey to freedom serves as the inspiration for the play. Quarlls is noted as being the first documented person to journey to freedom – through the Underground Railroad and the state of Wisconsin in 1842. She eventually made it to freedom in Toronto.

Simmons, Quarlls’ great, great, great granddaughter, will join the actors and other esteemed historians to participate in intimate talkback discussions immediately after the following performances:  
  • Friday, January 10 at 7:00 p.m. (Opening night)
    Kimberly Simmons joined by Dr. Larry McClellan, historian
  • Saturday, January 11 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 12 at 3:30 p.m.
    Kimberly Simmons joined by Clayborn Benson, Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Dr. Harry Oden, historian and MPS teacher
These discussions will focus on the themes and historical context of the play. Simmons will also discuss the impact Quarlls' courage and perseverance had on her and their family.  Talkbacks will last approximately 20 minutes, and are included with tickets to A MIDNIGHT CRY. 
For ticketing information please contact the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961 or visit www.FirstStage.org.  A MIDNIGHT CRY opens January 10 and runs through February 9.



Caroline Quarlls-Watkins
More about Kimberly Simmons
Simmons is the founding President and Executive Director of the Quarlls Watkins Heritage Project and has worked with many organizations including Detroit Historical Society, Historic Fort Wayne, Essex County Black Historic Research Society, Chicagoland Historical Underground Railroad Network (CHURN), Michigan NAACP, Kenosha Civil War Museum and others. Simmons is the author of historic site designations across the upper Midwest, most notably the establishment of Johnson Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a National Park Service Network to Freedom site in April 2009.  She is also the executive director and president of the Detroit River Project. She works as a heritage and tourism professional and consultant with a concentration on Underground Railroad history.






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