Casting call for ‘1854 A Folk Opera’

Jim Thomas and the Spirituals Choir at a past performance at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. —File photo by Adrianne Ryan

The second annual reading of “1854 A Folk Opera,” an inspiring production involving Martha’s Vineyard’s historic response to the Fugitive Slave Law in 1854, is set for Friday, August 23, at 5 pm at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs.

The U.S. Slave Song Project Spirituals Choir will sing a number of rousing songs, and actors, including Gerry Yukevich and other members of the community, will read parts of actual Vineyarders who attended a town meeting and wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Legislature to object to the Fugitive Slave Law, which would penalize anyone who helped a fugitive slave with six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. In the play, a fugitive slave on the Vineyard is helped by some of the population to escape — a true event. 

The production is in need of several male actors “of a certain age” to play a couple small roles as townspeople. A rehearsal/reading takes place Wednesday, August 21, from 7 to 9 pm at Grace Church, and there is a dress rehearsal at 2 pm at Union Chapel prior to the 5 pm performance. 

No memorization is required, organizers say, and currently there are some cast members reading more than one part. The group is in need of a couple of volunteers to join in at the last minute to help fill out the cast for the performance. Email Jim Thomas for more information,