Playwright’s Note

From the beginning, this work-in-progress seems to have had a charmed existence. At every turn, FAIR LIBERTY’S CALL has been blessed by the ready support and involvement of wonderfully talented, knowledgeable and generous individuals. With each new challenge, it seems that just the right person has stepped forward to guide the project a bit further along in its journey. A fact that is certainly noteworthy when I look back upon many a year immersed in many an original playwrighting venture. Yet, somehow, all this fortuitous assistance seems strangely in keeping with the circumstances that surrounded the show’s inception.

For the better part of fifteen years, I would regularly go through phases in which I longed to put together a theatrical piece based on traditional music. It was an aching notion that seemed to come from nowhere. I had none of the experience nor the skills that would have placed me in that world. Instead, I had only the mundane capacity to become completely enchanted by the music itself. A random tune would catch my ear and I would be awakened to the deep sense of yearning these musical touchstones inspired in me - and to the sense of connection with our country’s past that they evoked. Only I never seemed to be able to conjure a suitable - or, should I say, suitably heroic - storyline. Time after time, it seemed that my musical theater notion was doomed to remain just that: simply a fanciful idea.

Long before New Year’s Eve of 1998, I had become accustomed to the rushes of inspiration that would herald for me the beginning of a productive writing period. That evening - perhaps because the key idea had eluded me for so long, perhaps because of the exceptionally inconvenient timing - the tumble of thoughts that first signaled the arrival of FAIR LIBERTY’S CALL was such a surprise that the moments in which this project took life will always remain an uniquely vivid memory. There I was, scrambling to stay on schedule, while I repeatedly felt compelled to run back and forth searching for a verifying source - a sidebar entry I was sure I had seen many months before in a new edition textbook. Then, having found the entry, I needed to stop to scribble down the thoughts that were flowing from all the bits and snippets of stored information that were quickly coalescing around a sobering thought: It was possible for a Negro man to fight as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War and risk his life for the ideal of Liberty only to find that he had helped give birth to a new nation in which he would be profoundly unwelcome. Without a general emancipation of American slaves, such a man could, in a bitterly ironic twist, find it necessary to flee to British territory as the only way to ensure his personal Freedom.

In the months of research which followed that exciting pre-Midnight, I listened to countless hours of music and poured over endless pages of lyrics. The tunes and words played in my imagination as I outlined the show by selecting the pieces that would comprise the musical score. The interplay was a delicate dance in which an antique turn of phrase might give rise to a whole new plot twist and a sprightly dance tune could suggest a fully-realized character. In turn, personalities and situations seemed to reach out and embrace certain songs and sentiments - even salvaging musical pieces that I had previously set aside as charming but unusable. And so there flowed all manner of relationships: family, friends, enemies and associates... all with their own problems and triumphs and special circumstances... patriots, loyalists, parents, children... common folk and those who would be uncommon, at any cost... rowdiness, romantic folly, political intrigue and lost love restored. In short, all the very human concerns that traditional music - especially that music which has survived hundreds of years of our living together - most clearly communicates. By November 1999, I had finally assembled and organized enough material to rest assured that I had the full makings for a musical theater presentation.

For the next step, I could not possibly have done better than to turn to long time friend and creative associate, musical director and arranger, David Barnett. His musical adaptations and arrangements for FAIR LIBERTY’S CALL are nothing short of masterful. I am certain you will be delighted as you hear his seamless translation of traditional tunes into the language of modern musical theater. My deepest thanks go to him for his patient attention to my meandering, intuitive descriptions of the musical colors needed for this and that. Only an extraordinary talent like his could have so completely realized my aspirations and then taken the work even farther than I had hoped.

And now, I invite you to take part in the revelry, intrigue, romance and drama that abounds in the music and story of FAIR LIBERTY’S CALL.

- Pamela Meadows

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