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Finding Freedom:
The Journey of Robert Smalls

Charleston Gaillard Center
World Premiere

Director and Script Development: JaMeeka D. Holloway

Original Story and Script Development: Teralyn Reiter

Media Designer: Joseph Amodei

Costume Designer and Script Development: Celeste Jennings

Script Development: Caroline Randall Williams

Cultural Consultant: Dr. Jessica Berry, Gullah

Set Designer: MeJah Balams

Lighting Designer: Kathy Perkins

Sound Designer: Preston Dunnavant

Music Director: Charlton Singleton

Movement Director: Tristan Andrés Parks

Historian/Dramaturg: Damon Fordham

Racial Equity Facilitator: Jacqueline E. Lawton

Production Supervisor: Becca Edins

Photos: Amos Adams and Kathy A. Perkins

Based on the awe-inspiring life of South Carolina’s own Robert Smalls, FINDING FREEDOM celebrates and chronicles the remarkable story and legacy of a great American hero.

Born enslaved on the McKee Plantation in Beaufort, SC a young Robert Smalls is sent off to Charleston to work on the docks of the Charleston Harbor during the Civil War.  Trusted by his family, crew mates and determined beyond his circumstances, on a foggy night, in the early hours of May 13, 1862, Robert changes the course of his destiny and history when he seizes the Confederate’s USS Planter and steers it into the Union Blockade off the coast of Charleston Harbor. 

When President Abraham Lincoln asked why he risked his life, Robert replied with one word: FREEDOM. 

Infusing music, media and movement, FINDING FREEDOM paints the early years of a bright-eyed Robert Smalls enslaved in Beaufort; learning the land, waters and Gullah traditions of his mother, his daring and heroic commandeering of the USS Planter through the Charleston Harbor during the Civil War, to his later life of advocacy in the US House of Representatives. 

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