Historical drama. By Martha Hill Newell.
Cast: 9m., 7w., extras. We know relatively little about the young black woman who emerged as one of the first (probably the first) black poets of Colonial America. We know that she was kidnapped by slave traders in Senegal, West Africa, when she was 8. We know that she was bought by John and Susannah Wheatley, a cultured Boston family. We know that within a breathtakingly short span she learned to speak and read English and went on to learn Latin and write elegant classical poetry. Martha Hill Newell has taken Phillis' short life (she died at 30) and poetry and woven them into a gripping drama set in Boston, Africa and London. Audiences will identify with her drive to be accepted for herself rather than for what she represents, to be treated without patronization, not as a credit to her race or sex but as a person with feelings and aspirations. Area staging. Approximate running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.