André De Shields in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang

Watch: Tony, Grammy, Emmy Award Winner and HADESTOWN star André De Shields is FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner and Hadestown star André De Shields explores the life and achievements of the great emancipator Frederick Douglass in his solo show, FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.

André De Shields in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang
André De Shields in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. In his speech entitled, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?”

In this video excerpt of FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, De Shields shares his perspective.

“Though Douglass began his life as a slave, through heroic effort, he became one of America’s most important and historically influential icons,” said De Shields.

André De Shields as The Slave in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang
André De Shields as The Slave in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang

A story about brutality and deliverance—implausible yet historically accurate—that will captivate you with a slave ballet, hand-to-hand combat and impassioned singing. These are but a few of the elements that make up the journey from human bondage to freedom experienced by the young Douglass as performed by De Shields in his self-crafted solo performance depicting the Great Black Emancipator: FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory.  Gripping shackles, De Shields infuses his performance with dance, song and rousing spoken word as he transforms from embittered and illiterate slave to America’s incomparable orator and abolitionist right before the eyes of his audience.  As performed by De Shields, Douglass’ ultimate escape from chains to freedom is full of hope and achievement as it is darkness and anger.

Below is the complete show.

Click here to read the full speech on PBS.

André De Shields

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Awards for best featured actor in a musical for his critically acclaimed performance as Hermes in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. In 2020, Mr. De Shields received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, the 2020 AUDELCO for Lifetime Achievement, and an honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee. In 2019, he received the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in August, 2019. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty one years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. His film and TV projects include Anton Ego in Ratatouille: The TikTok Tok Musical, the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch”  on Netflix, Chubby in “Katy Keene” on the CW, and as Wyndham on “Almost Family.” He can next be seen as Gavin Plimsoll in Charles Busch’s  new film, The Sixth Reel. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.

Video: HADESTOWN Teams Up with the MLB for ‘Wait For Me’ and ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ 

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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