World Premier of Safe House through Nov. 15th

The Pedigrew family struggles to find its place in the antebellum Southern community as free people of color in Kentucky in the 1840’s. One brother knows he must turn his back on the needs of freedom seekers so that he can get white people to buy his shoes and create a successful life for his family.   The other brother risks everything in an effort to help fugitive slaves.  Safe House by Keith Josef Adkins is based on the lives of Adkins’ ancestors and originally was commissioned by Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. 

Adkins, who was born in Cincinnati and is a graduate of Princeton High School and Wright State University is a former Duncanson Artist-in-Residence at the Taft Museum of Art.   He now lives in New York.   His ancesters were from north-central Kentucky and the play is inspired by the stories his family handed down and his research of the period.



I saw a preview performance of Safehouse and found it very engrossing.  It was a new experience to learn about that role of free blacks in harboring and transporting self-emancipators  in Kentucky in the early 1840’s.  Their story is filled with drama and twists and turns.  I left feeling great empathy for this family that had free papers, but was far from free.

The playwright chose to have the destination for these freedom seekers be Liberia and used the devise of the aunt recieving a letter from her sister in Liberia to support her helping others to emegrate. The choice between colonization or the radical abolitionist views of the struggle for equal rights within our society was not presented.  (For more information on Liberia:Experience of free slaves and former blacks in Liberia)   This could have introduced this topic to audiences with little prior knowledge and enriched the onstage dialog within this family.

The world premier of Safe House will run through November 15th  at the Playhouse in the Park.  


Diana Porter

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