Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Underground Railroad brought to life through distance learning event!

On January 11, First Stage Lead Teacher (and Music Director of A MIDNIGHT CRY), Sheri Williams Pannell and Kimberly Simmons teamed up to offer students a unique distance learning opportunity with the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Students experienced the world of Caroline Quarlls, the first documented person to make her way to freedom through the Underground Railroad and the inspiration for A MIDNIGHT CRY.  In character as Caroline Quarlls, Sheri recounted the details of her harrowing journey.  Kimberly Simmons, Caroline's direct descendant, shared details of the Underground Railroad in the 1840’s and how her story is closely connected to Milwaukee.

Kimberly Simmons (left) and Sheri Williams Pannell
recount the journey of Caroline Quarlls 

“The opportunity to re-create the historical character Caroline Quarlls for the distance learning project was exciting enough, but to interact with her great-great-great granddaughter was thrilling,” said Sheri. “I was so moved when after the broadcast, Kimberly Simmons told me my French accent represented the way she believed her Creole great-great-great grandmother Caroline would have spoken.”

Sheri Williams Pannell  
The performance was broadcast live to third, fourth and fifth grade students from 11 Milwaukee area schools. Artifacts and photographs from the Underground Railroad and Milwaukee's role in this movement were provided by the Milwaukee Public Museum and their Education Department.  Kimberly Simmons fielded questions from the students immediately after the presentation.

This Distance Learning program is available for classrooms free of charge. Please contact First Stage Education Director Julia Magnasco with questions at (414) 267-2971 or julia@firststage.org.

A MIDNIGHT CRY runs at the Todd Wehr Theater through February 9. 

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