This play tells the story of Ellen Craft’s escape from slavery. In the mid-1800’s, Ellen (disguised as an old white man) and her husband (posing as her servant) traveled by train from Macon, Georgia, to Philadelphia. They settled in Boston, lived as free citizens, and were active in the anti-slavery movement. Warrants for their arrest, sent by their former owner, forced them to flee to Nova Scotia, and then England. They wrote an account of their escape and raised five children. After the end of the Civil War, they returned to Boston and then to Georgia, where they opened the Southern Industrial School and Labor Enterprise.
The focus of this play is to broaden students’ awareness of women’s roles in American history. This play may be used in conjunction with your social studies curriculum. The readers’ theater format will also bolster your language arts program; reading the play aloud will build students’ oral literacy and reading skills. This play will also fit well into a thematic unit. You may want to put on a more elaborate production involving props, scenery, and costumes. Those students who resist performing will find that there are so many behind the scenes roles they can fill. Increase, or add, crowd scenes so students can be on-stage without having to undertake speaking roles.