First World Theatre Ensemble and Quintessence Theatre present “Sojourner,” a one-person play about Sojourner Truth streaming May 10 – 23

-Courtesy of Perpetual Motion PR
photo by Lee Cortopassi

First World Theatre Ensemble is presenting an on-demand virtual production of Richard LaMonte Pierce’s Sojourner in collaboration with Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia’s home for classic theatre.

Sojourner will be presented as a full virtual production, prerecorded and available on demand for audiences to watch when they like May 10 – 23. Internationally known cinematographer Phillip Todd will serve as Director of Photography. Jairous L. Parker is to design sound, and Quintessence favorite Jojo Glodek will return to design the lighting.  Tickets cost $15 Visit or call 215.987.4450 to purchase tickets.

The one-person show will star Zuhairah McGill, who has toured the production across the country and was nominated for the Outstanding Leading Actress Barrymore award for originating the role in 2002. McGill is the Founding Artistic Director of First World Theatre Ensemble and a three-time winner of the DC Excellence in Black Theatre award and the Black Arts for Social Change Award, among others. McGill will co-direct the full virtual production with Quintessence Artistic Director Alexander Burns.

“From June to August 2020, First World Theatre held Town Hall meetings to discuss systemic racism in the arts here in Philadelphia and across the nation,” says McGill. “To keep the promise of making change in the theatre community, I approached Alex about doing this project. I thought this would be a good start to moving towards healing and understanding of each other’s position and history.”

McGill plays Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author who was born into slavery and eventually became a confidante to Abraham Lincoln and master debater with Frederick Douglass. Now quite old, Sojourner Truth tells the story of her enslavement not in the American South, but in the North, as well as her dramatic escape and subsequent fight to tear down slavery across the country. This devastating yet inspiring tale provides a compelling and personal lens into pre-Civil War America and Sojourner Truth’s extraordinary life.

“At Quintessence, we focus on epic works of classic theatre,” says Burns. “As Quintessence strives to move the classics forward, we look to the extraordinary people and events in America’s past that have defined the course of our nation. Just as Shakespeare brought the kings and queens of England to his stage, Quintessence expands its definition of classic to welcome the epic figures of American history to ours. Sojourner Truth’s bust sits in Emancipation Hall, the first sculpture to honor an African American woman in our Nation’s Capitol Building. And yet many do not know the tale of Sojourner Truth or how much we owe to her. We are honored to join First World Theatre in presenting Richard LaMonte Pierce’s dramatization of the life of one of America’s greatest heroes, performed by one of Philadelphia’s finest actors, believing it is essential to use the power of theatre to remember and revisit our past in order to better understand its context and relevancy to our future.”

First World Theatre Ensemble (FWTE) brings to the stage selected classic and original works intended to raise audience awareness regarding critically important social issues. Each play produced by First World Theatre Ensemble addresses local to global social issues and is partnered with organizations and field professionals whose work relates to the social themes of the play in a strategic effort to respond to the needs of and provide direct support for audience members affected by the issues addressed in the plays. FWTE distinguishes itself by producing daring yet professional quality theatre, as in the days of the Negro Ensemble, nurturing and showcasing new talent and new works while bridging the gap between the theatre we produce and the change it seeks to create.

Founded in 2009,award-winning Quintessence Theatre Group uses the classics to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human in today’s world. Through intimate, visceral, and innovative productions of epic theatre, Quintessence pursues its vision to become the Delaware Valley’s center for progressive humanism and an engine for radical empathy through the classics.

TICKETS: Access to the recording costs $15

*EDUCATIONAL PACKAGES: Special group rates are available for schools and educational groups. For access to the recording for your classroom, please call 215.987.4450 or email

Community Education Center
Meeting House Theater
3500 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104

7058 Germantown Avenue, Suite 202, Philadelphia, PA 19119

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