The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

“The Starry Road to Freedom” is coming to NKU

Darius Wallace has performed “The Starry Road to Freedom” for over 20 years. (Photo Provided)

Darius Wallace is sharing the transformational power of literacy through his one-man show, “The Starry Road to Freedom.”

“The Starry Road to Freedom,” written and performed by Wallace, details the life of Frederick Douglass, from growing up as a slave to the moment he became free. Douglass’s journey to freedom began when he learned about the power of written and spoken words by learning how to read. 

Wallace started doing solo work in the early ‘90s. His first show was about the life of Malcolm X, which then transformed into a show about Martin Luther King Jr. Wallace knew from the beginning of his solo work career that he wanted to create a story about Frederick Douglass, but he didn’t feel ready until 10 years later in 2001. 

Wallace originally wrote “The Starry Road to Freedom” for elementary and middle school children. “I wanted them to see that even though he [Frederick Douglass] was born into these given limitations, that he didn’t ask for, he found it within himself to overcome it, and one of the ways he did it was through the power of literacy,” said Wallace.

The show is constantly evolving. There are different versions of the show for different age groups and lengths of time. Versions of the show have been performed on Broadway, in many theaters and in many universities, said Wallace.

Caroline Sposto, Wallace’s outreach coordinator, shared that what struck her most about the one-man show was the level of expertise Wallace has on Douglass. He is good friends with Douglass’ descendants and even performs for them at the Historic House in Washington, D.C., said Sposto. “His portrayal, I believe, is authentic in a way that captures the most important aspects of Douglass’s life, philosophies and goals,” said Sposto. 

“The Starry Road to Freedom” is the only show to receive support and approval from Douglass’ descendants. The descendants feel that Wallace found the humanness of Douglass and that Wallace really captured the spirit of Douglass’s words, and gave his descendants a sense of what he may have been like in living flesh, said Wallace.

Wallace empowers other young actors by sharing the autonomy of creating and performing a one-man show. In the competitive world of acting, actors have to rely on many other people to find work. “The solo performer is a way to work for yourself, to be an entrepreneur,” Wallace explained. It is also powerful for the audience to see one person telling a story and becoming other people, said Wallace. 

The show inspires audiences with the message that whatever a person wishes or dreams to become is already inside them. When Frederick Douglass was an enslaved little boy, the great abolitionist we know today was already within him, said Wallace.

NKU Theatre & Dance Program Head Michael Hatton emphasizes the importance for voices like Wallace’s to be heard. “Members of our campus community and broader community need to see and celebrate the monumental work of our Black neighbors and their contributions in making our world a better place and our country a more perfect union,” said Hatton.

Family audiences are invited to watch “The Starry Road to Freedom” on Feb. 3 in the Farris Auditorium (MEP 200) at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and admission is free. Parking is available at University Drive Parking Garage.

Our hope is that when audiences leave the auditorium on Saturday evening, that they will have a greater appreciation and understanding of the efforts of those who dedicate their lives to social justice and the improvement of society for all,” said Hatton. More information about “The Starry Road to Freedom” and Darius Wallace is available on his website.