The first black man to be born in America out of slavery chose his own name. He called himself Freeman. Strictly Arts Theatre tells his story and the stories of others in a powerful cry for liberty and justice.
William Freeman’s story is one of countless stories of racism and victimisation, and there is no happy ending. This story is a continuing one, as demonstrated by five other true stories interwoven with Freeman’s, framed by the idea that they cannot move on without telling their truths. Freeman, David Oluwale, Sarah Reed, Sandra Bland, Daniel M'naghten and Michael Bailey are stuck, ghost-like, robbed of life, and only in speaking the truth and hoping understand it can they, and we, move forward.
The company plainly and unfrivolously demonstrates how wrong our history is, how it has not changed much and why it must. Strictly Arts have a beautiful quality of physical theatre that is perfect for the content of their productions; both joyful and free and shockingly restrained, the juxtaposition of which strikes a balance that makes it all terribly clear.
The integrity of the performers and their connection with the audience is stirring, and it is both exciting and devastating to watch. The framing device is an excellent way of making it sharply present, and involving the audience in a way that they may comment themselves; the ghosts compare, they share, they highlight what needs to be seen.
Freeman is a powerful, graceful demand for us to sit up and listen, open our eyes and see clearly, and for that reason everybody should see it.