The Drinking Gourd
Updated: Jan 4, 2019
By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Timothy Bond
The Drinking Gourd of the title is the Big Dipper. For a slave in the South it pointed the way North, the way to freedom. Hannibal, the main character, is a slave about 19 years old who is thinking about running away.
Hannibal says the only good slave is a bad slave. To keep his human dignity he breaks tools, works slowly, plays sick and often disappears for hours at a time. Because his mother is the master’s most trusted slave – she cooks for him – the master never comes down hard on Hannibal. But then, he gets old and sick and his 30-year-old son Everett takes over and works the slaves harder and longer because the soil is giving out. He hires an overseer who makes an example of Hannibal with devastating consequences.
The Drinking Gourd (1960) was an American television show about slavery written by Lorraine Hansberry for NBC which never aired and did not see print until 1972.
SPECIAL THANKS to Dr. Lue Doutit and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for their collaboration on bringing this reading to the public.
VENUE: Shotgun Studios at 1201 University Avenue (@ Curtis) is close to North Berkeley BART. Street parking available.
(NOTE: Illustration by Sally K. Green)
Monday, February 5, 2018 at 7 PM
Free and Open to the Public.
1201 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94702