New play about often-forgotten part of Harriet Tubman's legacy opens in Philadelphia

Cherri Gregg
January 15, 2020 - 4:00 am
"My General Tubman" will run at the Arden Theater starting Jan. 16.

Courtesy of the Arden Theater

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A new play about the legacy of Harriet Tubman opens Thursday at the Arden Theater in Old City, and a Philadelphia playwright chose to highlight an often-forgotten portion of the civil rights hero's life.

Tubman is most known as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and the recent film "Harriet" documents her ascent into civil rights sherodom.

But the stage play "My General Tubman" tells the complex, often ignored history of Tubman as an officer during the civil war, a wife in her second marriage and a caretaker who worked to build a senior home for elderly former slaves and much more.

"If you look back at the slave narratives, they never talked about who they married, who they fell in love with, how they took care of their kids," said Lorene Cary, who penned the stage play. "They don't tell that, they don't get to have a personal story."

A renowned best-selling author of the book "Black Ice," Cary is a first-time playwright. She says she became fascinated with Tubman after learning of the time she spent in Philadelphia. 

She wrote "My General Tubman" to showcase the icon's prowess as a military officer — the only woman to lead men during the Civil War and free more than 750 enslaved people. 

But she also wanted to highlight Tubman's humanity.

"She chose a night with a full moon so they could see where they were going," said Cary. "All the stuff she did; low tech, low dollars, low death. She was about life."

"My General Tubman" will run at the Arden from Jan. 16 through March 1.