Stories Are Tellin'

Click image for lager version and to download. Photo credit: Susan Wilson

one-man play by

Guy Peartree

PO Box 301818, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Telephone: 857-345-9071


Celebrating the Frederick Douglass Legacy:

"The South must war day and night to defeat the humanity of their downcast brother. And when a man strives to defeat humanity of another he destroys his own..." -- Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass 1818-1895

Frederick Douglass: Stories Are Tellin'

Set in 1859, when Frederick Douglass, a relentless anti-slavery orator, was being sought for arrest by the state of Virginia for his alleged activity in John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. Peartree's one-man play encompasses Douglass' life from his birth into slavery, his relationships and experiences on the slave plantation, his education, escape from slavery, and ascendancy as America's foremost black abolitionist.

The play is written, directed, and acted by Guy Peartree, who has been immersed in the work of storytelling since 1989.

Program is for elementary school, middle school students and adults.

"Am I not a Man and a Brother -- Am I not a Woman and a Sister"

Anti-Slavery meeting poster 1863


The Abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and the Slave Narrative

The antislavery personalities, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and John Brown represent three compelling models of Activism in the Abolitionist movement.

Guy Peartree presents a dramatic narrative exploring Douglass' relationships with Garrison and Brown spanning a period of almost 20 and 10 years respectively, beginning with his first encounter with Garrison in 1841 and climaxed by John Brown's capture and execution in 1859.

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry took place on Oct 16,1859. And almost to the day Frederick Douglass gave a speech at the National Hall in Philadelphia entitled "Self Made Men," on Oct 17, 1859. This speech is an example of Doulgass' grasp of the power of oppressed individuals to defy their oppression, to rise up and become the natural wonder creation endowed them to become.

Because the Abolitionist movement represents a quintessential moment in the historical landscape of America and because Douglass' life reflects a brilliant and successful narrative activism; a writer and orator who displayed enormous wisdom, insight and power, Mr. Peartree culminates his narrative selection with a dramatic reflection on two of Douglass' Lectures; "Self Made Men," and "The Negro, Ethnologically Considered."

Performance and workshop program is for high school, college students and adults.

Presentations and Fees (Subject to Adjustment):

$1,000-$4,000 for first 60 minute performance

$500-$750 for 45 minute library performance

$300-$600 for additional performances and workshops/same day

$2,000-$4,000 and up for theater performances with lighting, costumes and props

Plus site specific researched references and play adaptations.

School Assemblies & Residencies

$500-$1000/ first assembly

$300-$600 for additional performances and workshops/same day

$1,200-$2,000/day for residencies

Teacher Workshops

$500-$1,000 for first teacher workshop

$300-$600 for additional workshops same day

* ASL Interpreting by Wendy Jehlen can be provided for CAA programs ($100 first hour, $50 each additional hours)



Play Outline (45-60 minutes):

Introduction: Frederick Douglass, 1859

At this moment as I stand here, I am pursued by U.S. Marshalls, who have been ordered to arrest me. I am charged with participating in the Harpers Ferry raid led by Captain John Brown, who with a small band of men attempted to secure all the armaments and then passing them amongst the slaves would thereby cause them to rebel against slavery....


I was born on the eastern shores of Maryland. My earliest memories are of my grandmother Betsy. She was known as a fishing woman. Sometimes I saw her waist high in water, seine hauling, casting her nets out far over the river. Grandma Betsy was also a famous planting woman. The farmers in those parts would not let any seed be sown any plant be harvested unless Grandma Betsy had blessed them. An I felt like a prince; her small shack was my castle. But, I did not know I was a slave....


Frederick Douglass is sent to Baltimore and is taught the rudiments of reading by naive and Christian-hearted wife of the man who is the brother of his master's son in law. Hugh Auld, the husband scolds Sophia: "If you teach a slave to read it will forever unfit him to be a slave... He should know only the will of his master." Frederick Douglass continues to pursue his education in secret....


Douglass is sent back to the main plantation. His master decides Frederick Douglass has been ruined by being in Baltimore and is sent to be broken in by slave breaker Covey. Covey beats Frederick Douglass daily. One day he kicks him in the head. Bleeding, Frederick Douglass runs from Covey but his master sends him back. Meanwhile Frederick Douglass is given a root by his friend Sandy, who maintains that if he keeps it in his pocket no one will ever beat him again. Covey attempts to whip Frederick Douglass when he is returned. Frederick Douglass resists and struggles with Covey for two hours. Covey never lays a hand on Frederick Douglas again...


Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery by impersonating a sailor.


"I was a slave I escaped to the free soil of the North. And here I became an abolitionist. I raise my voice tirelessly, angrily and bitterly against the abomination of slavery. I, Frederick Douglass, I am a man. Because I am a man, I am an abolitionist.

Epilogue with Questions and Answers

Click images for larger version and to download. Photo credit: Susan Wilson



"You did a real service for your audience and for the cause of American history. You enthralled us all with your recreation and dramatization of Douglass' life." -- Dennis O'Tool, Director, Strawberry Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH

"Wonderful!... the presentation was professional. I want my students to have the opportunity to hear Mr. Peartree."" -- Teacher, at conference performance and workshop

"He is wonderful storyteller, and he had his audience spellbound from the start." -- Mary Johnson-Lally, Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell, MA

Selected Appearances:







Guy Peartree at 857-345-9071  Email:


Guy Peartree program flyer PDF click here

Frederick Douglass -- one man play by Guy Peartree flyer PDF click here

Guy Peartree media reviews PDF click here

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 Frederick Douglass -- one man play by Guy Peartree

Programs Description

Frederick Douglass -- one man play by Guy Peartree

Teacher Guide, Links and Resources

George Washington Carver -- one man play by Guy Peartree

Photographs and Press Kit


For translations into different languages -- Arabic, Chinese, Italian, French, German, Russian, Spanish or others visit the web site:

Community Arts Advocates

Copyright 2017 by Stephen Baird