Opening Dialogues About Revolutionary War History and Race

For one weekend, the 1907 Van Norden Carriage House was transformed into a stage set for two performances of “The Kept Private,” a powerful story based on 19th century transcripts related to the tortuous pension application of a 93 year old African American veteran of the Revolutionary War. Set in Dutchess County, present day dialogues between the historians and ordinary people who helped uncover the tale were woven together with the authentic testimony of a black farmer named Andrew Fraser as he was pressed to prove his 3 years of service before a local Quaker judge.  Attendees called the production “riveting” and conversations between the actors and the audience afterwards were lively and passionate. A stellar 10 actor cast was directed by Jeremy Davidson of Storyhorse Documentary Theater and included Frankie Faison, Jennifer Mudge, Chris Henry Coffey, John Bedford Lloyd, J. Alphonse Nicholson, EJ Carroll, Howard Overshown, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Stephen M. Jones, and John Thomas Waite.

The presentation was dedicated to the memory of Robert S. Brown, a Rye native who left an amazing legacy of youth advocacy, promotion of black culture in schools and defense of human rights.