On Friday, October 23, The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts presented a live Q&A session to discuss the musical Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom as part of the “Kravis Classroom Connection” series. The virtual program featured musical supervisor Laurent Williams, Queade Norah, and writer Lynda Blackmon Lowery.
Students heard from Lowery, Williams, and Norah about their life experiences and how those experiences impacted the making of the musical. The memoir turned musical is based on Lowery, who was the youngest person at age 15 to walk in the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery, her friends, and neighbors fought alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to secure African Americans’ right to vote.
“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom is a new musical filled with traditional and original Gospel and Freedom songs that tells the moving and inspiring true story of Lynda and her fight for freedom,” said Tracy Butler, Director of Education for the Kravis Center. “For more than 28 years, the Kravis Center has ensured that arts education remains accessible to all students in our community. In light of the pandemic, we designed our online offerings to provide adults and children with additional learning opportunities through virtual platforms, especially since some students are still learning online.”
With the presidential election approaching, Norah, who plays Lowery on stage, and Williams, who plays Lowery’s father and is also the musical supervisor, shared their stories about voting and becoming activists. They also encouraged the students to do their research on candidates before casting their ballots and to stay informed about laws that can impact them and their communities.
“The students were very impressed by the production and were even more impressed by the ideas conveyed during the Q&A,” said Julie Mandel from SouthTech Academy. “It was a powerful mix of information and emotion that encouraged my students to consider the people who gave their lives for the right to vote and other freedoms that are taken for granted today.”
“Kravis Classroom Connection” helps students and teachers bring the arts into their classrooms virtually in a fun and engaging way. The performances follow topics in math, science, technology, arts, history, and social studies for students in second to twelfth grade. This innovative virtual series offers prerecorded presentations for teachers and students to view from a designated district-approved streaming platform. The virtual presentation of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom was sponsored by Irene and Jim Karp.
Performances for “Kravis Classroom Connection” will be available to view for one week with two live Q&A sessions with a member of the company at the end of each week, running through the school year. Additional performance dates and details can be found on the Kravis website at www.kravis.org/classroomconnection.