Acclaimed Actress Invokes the “Spirit” of Harriet Tubman

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There are many plays about Harriet Tubman, but none share her entire life story like a visit with “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman.” The play will be performed in West Shore Community College’s Center Stage Theater on Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Acclaimed actress Leslie McCurdy invokes the “spirit” of Harriet Tubman as she portrays the life of the iconic abolitionist, recreating stories familiar and some rarely told, using words said to have been Harriet Tubman’s own. 

On a minimally lit, barren stage with only a trunk of costumes, McCurdy depicts the extraordinary story of Harriet Tubman’s exceptionally dramatic life, beginning with being hired out at the age of six and going through her solo flight from slavery, her involvement with the Underground Railroad, her victorious rescue missions in the Civil War, and her continued commitment to others in her later years.

“The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” was a finalist in the National Canadian Chalmers Award for “Best New Play for Young Audiences” in 1999, when McCurdy first premiered her striking one-woman show.

McCurdy was named outstanding performing artist of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and has been performing for many years in southwestern Ontario and the mid-western United States, a privilege her dual US/Canadian citizenship affords her. Also a teacher, with an honors B.F.A. in dance from the University of Michigan, she was slated to go to New York to apprentice with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre when she literally tripped, fractured her hip, and fell into acting.

While she has many theatre credits, McCurdy is best known for the one-woman plays that she wrote and has toured internationally for 15 years. Other plays she has written and performs include “Harriet is My Hero” and “Things My Fore-Sisters Saw.”

Called “brilliant” and “something everyone should see,” her solo performances are at once educational and inspirational leaving a lasting impression on all who experience them.  She has recently returned to her dance roots and is a member of Dance Nonce, a modern dance company based in Grosse Point, Michigan.

Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman not only escaped slavery alone, she returned to the south 19 times to lead over 300 other slaves to freedom in the northern United States and Canada. Her work as a nurse and a spy during the civil war was instrumental in helping the North defeat the South, thus forcing the abolition of slavery in the United States.  Her entire life was spent working for the benefit of others, while asking little for herself.  “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” continues that compelling legacy.    

Tickets are available online or by calling the Center Stage Theater box office at 231-843-5507.


Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Relations