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Trapped: A Dramatic Reading

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Commissioned by the Rokeby Museum and written by David Budbill, "Trapped" is a short drama that forms the centerpiece of a new exhibit on the Underground Railroad. Presented as an object theatre or "actor-less play," it tells the story of Jesse, a fugitive slave sheltered at Rokeby in 1837. Although he had successfully freed himself by escaping, Jesse attempted to purchase his freedom legally. The story was preserved in letters exchanged between Rowland Robinson of Rokeby and Ephraim Elliott, Jesse's former owner. This short play dramatizes how Jesse ended up "trapped" between these two men, one a radical abolitionist and the other a slave owner.