The true story of the life and legacy of a revolutionary Black Panther Party member who inspired the next generation of young activists
“Told with passion and performed with real dynamism…A beautifully thought out piece of work”. Lyn Gardner, Guardian (on Bound)
Based on the too-short life of Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton, the drama opens on the night of his assassination. 50 years on from his death, the play highlights Hampton’s life and legacy, in particular the peaceful negotiations he led with Chicago street gangs and his efforts to end to police brutality. Messiah is a timely retelling of Hampton’s story, considering the revolutionary potential of politically engaged young people and the will to make a difference, whatever the cost.
On the 4th December 1969, Fred Hampton lies asleep next to his heavily-pregnant girlfriend, Deborah Johnson. Although only 21-years-old, Hampton has made a name for himself helping to instigate non-violent pacts between street gangs. As the founder of much-needed free public health clinics he’s overseen projects to feed thousands of impoverished school kids. His good deeds, however, are not unanimously winning him fans. All the Chicago Police Department see is a member of the Black Panther Party and, in the dark outside his bedroom, fourteen men load their weapons.
Fred Hampton was born in 1948 in Summit, Illinois. He relocated to Chicago as a young adult after becoming politically-motivated and involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Black Panther Party. His work with the BPP included the Free Breakfast Program, which provided free meals for thousands of school-aged children and is now a lesser-recalled part of the BPP’s activism. Bear Trap Theatre bring their innate sense of empathy to telling the story of this remarkable man.
NEED TO KNOW
@beartraptheatre | #MessiahPlay | www.beartrap.org
Running Time: 75 minutes | Suitable for ages 14+
Directed by Jesse Briton
Written by Jesse Briton and Paula B. Stanic
Devised by the company
Produced by Jesse Briton and Josh Foyster
Fred Hampton Shaq B. Grant
Deborah Johnson Angelina Chudi
William O’Neal Gerel Falconer
Chicago Police Sergeant Lewis Hart
3 Dec Connect Centre
Portway, Wells, BA5 2BE
7.30pm | £10 (£8 concs.)
www.connect-centre.org.uk/ | 01749 673793
4 Dec Chapter Arts Centre
Market Road, Canton, Cardiff CF5 1QE
8pm | £12 (£10 concs.)
www.chapter.org | 029 2030 4400
5 – 6 Dec Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham Green, London, N15 4RX
7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs.)
www.berniegrantcentre.co.uk | 020 8365 5450
8 – 11 Jan Streatham Space Project
Sternhold Avenue, Streatham, London SW2 4PA
7.30pm | £15 (£12.50 concs.)
www.streathamspaceproject.co.uk | 03330 124 963
Co-commissioned by Stratford Circus Arts Centre and Bernie Grant Arts Centre. In association with Theatre Centre. Development supported by Ovalhouse.