Perspectives

WOUB Produces First Original Audiobook, “Freedom Star”


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“Freedom Star,” a first person story of Toby – a runaway slave, is the first original children’s book written by Ohio University alumna Connie Winters. It also is the first original children’s drama produced by WOUB Public Media.

The drama chronicles Toby’s journey on the Appalachian Underground Railroad. It is about keeping this memory alive in a safe place and sharing this history from generation to generation.

“We must never forget those who fought for, won and intend to keep their freedom,” says Karen Chan, the director and one of the producers of this audio drama.

Some 12 different actors – spanning several generations played roles in this production. The youngest is 9 years old and the oldest is in excess of 60. Freedom Star features the voice of Ohio University alumnus David Emerson Toney (Ohio University MFA 1972-78) as Great-Grandfather. Toney served as Assistant Professor and Artistic Director and Graduate Faculty of Theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University. In this children’s drama, he also sings the old spiritual “Oh Freedom.”  It is one of the highlights of the presentation.

Professor Dale Shields (BFA 1975 & MFA 1995) plays the role of Grandpa. Shields is the 2017 winner of The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award® 2015 Tony® award nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

Rounding out this remarkable cast are the voices of Ohio University alumni, graduate students, Athenian Berean Community Players and local citizens.

Kit DeBerry of Jacksonville, Florida added art illustrations bringing Toby’s journey alive with care and dignity. Local musicians, Charlie and Ceila Lewis, underscore Toby’s sometimes-harrowing journey.

Many of the relationships spawning this production have been seasoned over four decades. Charlie Lewis along with Toney and Connie Winters were all part of the Original Appalachian Green Parks Projects that produced music and theatrical performances in the seventies. The group was directed by the late Bob Winters (Professor of Theater at Ohio University) and the former husband of Connie Winters.

WOUB Public Media is the perfect medium to bring Freedom Star to a new generation of book lovers!

Follow along with the story here!