Underground Railroad play shares history with children

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Bright Star theatre presents “Heroes of the Underground Railroad” at the main Orange County Library in Hillsborough at 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening. Kaurie Tubman (left) and Travis Emery (right) performed all roles in the play.

Elementary schooler Tia Hilber had a few questions about the Underground Railroad when attending a play Thursday night.

“Was the Underground Railroad actually under the ground?” she asked during the play’s question-and-answer session.

Tia and her mother were one of eight families who attended a play Thursday at the Orange County Main Library. The show, “Heroes of the Underground Railroad,” gave children and their families a taste of history.

“The show was a great refresher course on information that I haven’t heard in many years,” said Sabrina Hilber, Tia’s mother.

The show, performed by traveling theater group Bright Star Touring Theatre, follows Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, Henry “Box” Brown, John Parker and other Underground Railroad leaders in their journey to freedom.

This special family event held in honor of Black History Month was created to help children third grade and older get a better grasp of the Underground Railroad movement.

Ginger Holler, library director at the Orange County Main Library, said the performance was a fun way for kids to be engaged and learn at the same time.

“It’s a great opportunity for parents and children to spend time together while learning about history,” she said. “Plus it’s a personable experience that brings to life a time period that is often hard to describe.

“The Bright Star Touring Theatre does a great job of holding the children’s attention. This is our fifth or sixth year having them at the library.”

David Ostergaard, who co-founded Bright Star, has written all the plays that the company performs across the country, from California to North Carolina. The company is entering its 10th season.

“We’re based in Asheville, so we love the opportunity to be back in North Carolina whenever we can be,” he said.

Ostergaard said he was inspired to write the Underground Railroad show when he visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a large museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company came full circle when it later performed the show there, he said.

The show has been performed an average of 120 times between January and March for the past six years, he said.

“This is such an inspiring story about people who knew what was right,” Ostergaard said.

Kaurie Daniels and Travis Emery brought the story to life, two actors taking on six roles.

Audience members left talking about the railroad and how much they enjoyed the show.

“It’s a great American story that celebrates people standing up for what they believe in,” Ostergaard said. “And that’s something today’s kids really need to understand.”

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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