An unlikely friendship between a runaway slave and a white farmer is at the center of the play “Freedom Bound,” coming to Hibernian Hall for Black History Month, Feb. 12 and 13.
A true story of hope and trust, the play attempts to highlight complex race relations tempered with the intricacies of friendship.
It was written in 1988, according to Chris Westhoff, managing director of Mad River Theater Works, the production company producing “Freedom Bound.” Based in Ohio, Mad River crafts plays that are drawn from and produced for the people of the rural Midwest as well as audiences throughout the country and the world, according to its mission.
Addison White is a runaway slave from Kentucky who uses the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom and ends up in Ohio. While there, a white farmer befriends him and as a result, teaches him how to trust.
“Addison is in need of assistance and Udney (Hyde) is able to provide that for him,” explained Westhoff. “The story is about a slave, but it’s about race relations. They can help each other. [But] Udney says to Addison, ‘You think you’re so important. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for what I believe in.’”
Bob Lucas, producing director of Mad River, plays Udney Hyde and wrote all the music for the play. Lucas has been playing Hyde for over a decade.
“In 1988, I started out being the marshal and later Master White,” Lucas said. “I was the hard guy back then. After about four years I started playing Udney. I think (the way I play him) really changed. I have a strong feeling for him now in my bones. I know who this guy is.”
Lucas went on to talk about Hyde and White’s relationship.
“I think he surprises Addison in a few ways,” Lucas said. “In the play Addison tells him that he would stay around Udney’s place if Udney would give him a gun to protect himself. Udney says, ‘Well you show me I can trust you and I’ll give you a gun.’ [But] Addison says, ‘I want the gun now,’ ” shared Lucas.
Unmoved, Hyde quickly reminds White who is need of help.
“He puts the cards right square on the table,” said Lucas. “He tells Addison, ‘You need me more than I need you.’”
From that moment the audience will see a big change in White. He begins to trust Hyde and his family. But according to Lucas, he begins to really trust himself.
Mad River Theater Works: “Freedom Bound” will be at Hibernian Hall Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2:00 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 13, at 10:00 a.m.