Two years in the making, challenged by COVID-19 and actor availability, the film crew of ABOLITION wrapped shooting on October 3, 2021. Shot on location throughout Tuolumne County CA, cinematographer John C. Brown and Duende’s Artistic Director Tom Maguire recreated the pre-Civil War settings that provide the backdrop to this stunning drama. The original two-man cast was expanded to over 20 actors (and their horses) in support of the lead characters played by Tom Maguire (John Brown), Torrey Linder (young Frederick Douglass) and Dwight Mahabir (old Frederick Douglass).
ABOLITION tells the story of two friends, their accomplishments and their conflicts, during the tumultuous decade leading up to the Civil War. One of the friends is John Brown – he whose “body lies a-mouldering in the grave” – who led the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, a major stepping stone toward the War. The other is Frederick Douglass who was born a slave in Maryland, escaped to freedom at age 20, and became an important intellectual, journalist, political maven, and arguably the greatest American orator of the Nineteenth Century. The bond and the strife between these two men is explored in an intimate re-imagination of this crucial era in our fraught history.Rick Foster, Playwright
Having brought the project this far is an extraordinary achievement. The idea of a film version of ABOLITION for distribution on PBS was born after successful stage runs in Sonora (2018) and Sacramento (2019). Rick Foster began the arduous process of adapting the work to a screenplay and John C. Brown was brought in as the consulting cinematographer. Due to the pandemic, the project was stopped and restarted twice before everything finally came together in the Fall of 2021.
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Starting on October 1, 2022, ABOLITION will be available to PBS member stations for broadcast. The film is now available on PBS.org. NETA is working to create scheduling hooks (Black History Month, Juneteenth, Civil War, etc) and will market the film directly to PBS programming directors.
We’d be grateful if you would help us spread the word. Two 30-second and a 90-second promo were created for stations to use and we’re providing links to them here if you’d like to share them on your social media or with friends and family.