Famed Abolitionist William Still To Be Featured in Kean University Play


Photo of William Still courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


UNION — A play featuring South Jersey’s William Still and the Underground Railroad will make its debut at the Premiere Stages’ Bauer Boucher Theatre Center at Kean University on July 11-28.

Still, born a free Black man in Burlington County, became one of the country’s leading abolitionist figures of the time and was connected with Harriet Tubman‘s efforts to rescue Blacks in the South and bring them to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The play is by Benjamin V. Marshall, who was commissioned to write “Still” for Premiere Stages’ Liberty Live Commission. The Liberty Live is a bi-annual unique partnership with Kean University’s Liberty Hall Museum to develop and produce new plays that celebrate New Jersey’s rich and diverse history written by New Jersey playwrights. 

“In this new play based on true events in 1850s New Jersey, Peter has arrived at an abolitionist office seeking help from its director, William, an African American leader in the Underground Railroad,” the university said in a release. “As the two men learn more about each other’s lives, they realize their vastly different pasts will lead them to a deeply connected future.”

Director Marshall Jones III plans to incorporate traditional African masks, djembe drums, music and dance to tell the story of Still with a play that will feature more than 20 different characters.

“When I first read about the life of William Still, I was not only struck by the power of his story but also the deeply dramatic encounter with a man coming to him for help,” said John J. Wooten, Premiere Stages Producing Artistic Director.

“Ben’s moving and thought-provoking play provides an important study about one of New Jersey’s most consequential figures.”

“Still” will feature actors Ashley Nicole Baptiste, D. Malik Beckford, Brian D. Coats, Perri Gaffney, Carl Hendrick Louis, and Nafeesa Monroe in the lead roles.

Tickets for opening night are $100. Tickets for all other performances are $35 standard, $25 for senior citizens and Kean alumni and staff, $20 for patrons with disabilities and $15 for students. Significant discounts for groups of ten or more apply. To make reservations or to order a season brochure, please call the box office at 908-737-7469 or visit premierestagesatkean.com.

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