Play tells the story of a friendship that forged the path for equal rights Milford. Written by Shohola playwright Gregory Giblin and coming to Milford in June, 'The Lion of Anacostia' brings to life the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.
Actors in rehearsal, from left: Oliver King, Paul Puerschner, and Regina Yeager Drouse (Photo by Linda Fields)
By Linda Fields When he wrote “The Lion of Anacostia," Gregory Giblin of Shohola had only to look at his past for inspiration. “I was born in Rochester, New York, and that is basically where Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass became well known, and were life-long friends, and are buried in the cemetery there,” he said. The play, first performed two years ago in Orange and Sullivan Counties, N.Y., is based on the friendship between the two distinguished rights activists: one fighting for African-Americans and the other for women. Giblin said the two-act play took five years to complete, and was originally going to be a one-man show about Douglass. “My visual image for the part was (actor and friend) Sam Wright,” he recalled. But Giblin said that, after some research, he felt more depth and more characters were needed — especially the character of Susan B. Anthony. Thanks to the generous support of the Greater Pike Foundation through a grant from the Richard L. Snyder Fund, “The Lion of Anacostia” is currently in rehearsals and will be performed in Milford by three actors with the American Readers Theatre (ART). There will be four performances beginning June 6: three at schools in the Delaware Valley School District, and one performance free to the public at the Pike County Public Library in Milford on Friday, June 7, at 7 p.m. ART Founder Jeffrey Stocker, who worked with such playwrights as Edward Albee and Christopher Durang, is directing. He worked with Giblin on the original play and helped adapt it for the June performances. “We are under time constraints because we are taking it into the schools, and we had to adapt it by cutting it down to about 45 minutes," said Stocker. "When it’s done, it can go back to being a two-act play.” Giblin said many of the lines in the play are drawn directly from an interview of Douglass. “He wrote so well, it was easy to take parts of it and incorporate it into the play," he said. As for the upcoming performances, Giblin said, “I’m delighted. I think it’s really important. Most people don’t even know who Frederick Douglass is. They get him mixed up with Stephen Douglas.” Editor's note: This story was updated from the original.