Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Historical Reenactment Commissioned

Richmond, VA – In honor of the Joseph Bryan Park 100th anniversary, the Friends of Bryan Park has commissioned local playwright and founder of Richmond’s African-American Repertory Theater Derome Scott-Smith to write and produce an historical reenactment about Gabriel, the slave whose life and death are forever entwined with the park’s history. The play, a one-man show, will be performed for free in the park on Friday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. and on October 1, 8, and 15, at 6:30 p.m. Local actor, Timothy L. Harris, who is an imposing 6 feet 6 inches tall, will portray Gabriel.

Gabriel planned a slave uprising in 1800, now known as Gabriel’s Rebellion, which was probably the largest conceived in the history of the South. During that summer, the insurrection's leaders met at Young's Spring, beside the creek that runs through Bryan Park. Saturday, Aug. 30, of that year was the night chosen for the uprising, but in a twist of fate, the plans were foiled by a rainstorm that caused flash flooding. The delay ultimately led to the capture and execution of 26 slaves, including Gabriel and his brother.

In the monologue, Harris will portray Gabriel while he was imprisoned awaiting his execution, speculating on his desire for the freedom of all men, his indignation at the injustice of slavery, the planning of his bold rebellion, and his thoughts while facing his own death.

The performances will take place outdoors beside the tennis courts near Picnic Shelter #1. Those planning to attend should bring a blanket or chair for seating. Signs will be posted to direct visitors to the parking area and performance site. In case of inclement weather, performances will be postponed.

The Friends of Bryan Park is a non-profit resident group founded in 1994 to protect and improve the park. The group works closely with Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities and has organized the park’s centennial celebration, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call 804-646-5733.