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At the New York Theater Festival at the Hudson Guild Theater
441 w. 26th st. New York, New York 10001
June 6, 2024 - 6:15pm

June 8 - 2pm

June 9 - 6pm

Adapted from Akil's 2010 short film that played in 60 countries and won 21 awards including 2 Student Emmys - Underground is a story of family, both created and chosen, told through song and stirring melodies of freedom. This story of the American past is a riveting commemoration of the Negro spiritual and its ability to guide weary feet and sooth wounded souls.

Cast & Crew

Theatre Projects

Theatre Projects
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"Underground" - Her Soul Was Tired

"Underground" - Her Soul Was Tired

01:54
Play Video
"Underground" - On The Block

"Underground" - On The Block

01:38
Play Video
"Underground" - Drinking Gourd

"Underground" - Drinking Gourd

00:57
Play Video
"Underground" - Light The Way Lantern

"Underground" - Light The Way Lantern

01:06
Play Video

PRODUCTION CLIPS

PREVIOUS PRODUCTIONS

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ATLANTA BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL

Oct 2015

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NEW YORK CITY - NEC READING SERIES

Mar 2016

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ATLANTA MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL

Aug 2016

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NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY PRODUCTION

Feb 2017

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SANKOFA CONCERT TALLAHASSEE, FL

July 2019

SYNOPSIS

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?

PHOTO GALLERY

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