Underground is a story of family, both created and chosen, told through song and stirring melodies of freedom. This under-told story of the American past is a riveting commemoration of the Negro spiritual and its ability to guide weary feet and sooth wounded souls.
ATLANTA BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL
NEW YORK CITY - NEC READING SERIES
ATLANTA MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY PRODUCTION
SANKOFA CONCERT TALLAHASSEE, FL
1850, more than a decade before America's Civil War begins. In a story told through song and with dreams of freedom tuggin’ at his soul, Bali plans to escape from slavery after learning that his enslaver, Jacob, intends to sell his young daughter, Emala, in a last ditch effort to cover financial losses caused by a persistent drought. Bali determines to free himself and Emala from their captor at night, but he encounters opposition from an unexpected source, a house slave named Dembi.
After Emala's mother was sold off by Jacob, Dembi helped raise the newborn Emala for seven years. Dembi has learned to cope with her oppression by dismissing any notion of freedom. Further complicating Bali's plan to join find the Underground Railroad, is Dembi's skepticism of its actual existence. For her, the only thing worse that the oppression she's always known, is the certainty of death as a runaway. As Emala's advocate, Dembi is convinced that the young girl is too frail to survive the grueling journey towards uncertain freedom.
While everyone is sleep, Jacob hears a commotion outside, and sees Dembi and Bali talking. Jacob's feelings enflame and his rage squeezes it's way through his rifle! Now, that he suspects his mistress of being connected in their escape plan, Dembi has no choice but to run for her life with Bali and Emala!
They strike out in the dead of night, singing Negro spirituals that they hope will protect them on their perilous journey to freedom and guide them to the Underground Railroad. Will Dembi come to believe in the Underground Railroad and risk the ultimate price for freedom, or will she betray her comrades for the familiar? Can Bali protect his daughter and lead them to freedom, or will Jacob find them and drag them back to a life of servitude?