by JB Hyppolite
Georgina Bard, 60, of Glenside, has a background in business, not the creative arts, but she recently made a sharp U-turn as the co-creator and co-writer of the play, “Mr. President, I’m Frederick Douglass.” The play was inspired by Douglass’ autobiography, “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” and is based on a meeting that took place between the legendary Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln in August 1863. The play will be performed at the Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church, 8855 Germantown Ave. on Tuesday, March 18, 1:30 p.m. (Ed. Note: In Local Life last week we had a different address and time because we were given incorrect information by the company producing the play.)
“It takes place during the Civil War period where the black troops were being treated unfairly. They were already being enlisted into the union army, but Frederick Douglass was bold enough to go to President Lincoln to ask for the black soldiers to be treated more fairly, and that was the significant meeting that they had,” said Georgina, who said she was motivated by how Douglass persevered, learning to read, write and eventually become an acclaimed orator and civic activist.
“Mr. President, I’m Frederick Douglass” stars Maurice Tucker as Frederick Douglass and Lawrence H. Geller as President Lincoln. “While I was reading about Douglass’ life,” said Bard, “I found out about this meeting, and I also had been involved in theater in the past. It came to my mind that this would be a great play because it was a very interesting meeting, and there are probably not many people who even know about this meeting. I thought it would be a great educational tool as well.”
Georgina’s partner in the project, Richard Hadley, 59, of Huntingdon Valley, is a Civil War buff and social worker. They met through church connections, and their children were friends. Hadley helped Bard do the necessary research in order to properly execute an accurate conversation between the two historic figures. Georgina and Richard simply met together at a coffee shop with books and proceeded to create and edit in extensive fashion. Once the play was written, they performed it a few times under a different title in front of an audience in a “workshop” format en route to revising the play.
Georgina, originally from Miami, has a background in property management and now does that on a part-time basis, with her focus on theater now occupying more and more of her time. She attended Eastern University in Radnor, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management.
“I really always was involved with theater for a long time years back but just as a hobby,” said Bard. “That was community theater and working with kid productions with my children when they were involved with children’s theater … I got back into it as a hobby again and just kept feeling that this is what I really want to do now. I don’t want to be in this office anymore looking at the four walls. I want to do something more creative and really get into it.”
Georgina is now in the process of obtaining her MA in Theater at Villanova University. She’s done various theater gigs on the side as well, including stage managing, acting and directing. She is also the artistic director of Beacon Theatre Productions.
For more information about “Mr. President, I’m Frederick Douglass,” call 215-248-0180 or visit www.beacontheatreproductions.org.