I. Students will write a play about Harriet Tubman. They may begin by improvising a scene of Harriet leading fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. The following are ideas for scenes from Harriet Tubman’s life.
1. Time: mid nineteenth Century.
Place: Maryland, the marsh land on the Eastern Shore.
Scene: Early evening As the curtain rises, we hear the mournful cry of a loon. In the dark shadows of a tall spanish moss covered tree we begin to make out the figures of three people.
The figures are Harriet and her brother, Henry Ross and another male fugitive slave. She has come to lead them to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
2. The above scene may be improvised by the students or written by them. They may develop different characters who help Harriet and the fugitives. These characters may be the “station masters” along the way and William Still. The actor portraying William Still may record the names and stories of the fugitive slaves.
II. The students may want to develop a map of the Underground Railroad from where Harriet came from, the eastern shore of Maryland to Philadelphia. Developing character, place, and sensory elements as they map the “stations” along the way to freedom.
1. Ideas for improvisation or scene writing.
a. The fugitives and their “conducter” had to travel at night. How does that make you feel?
Perhaps having the fugitives wear blindfolds would be an interesting, helpful exercise. Harriet, having made the trip many times would not wear a blindfold.