“Freedom Riders” to examine social justice issues through stories of the past at Jan. 28 Sunflower Performing Arts performance

Freedom Riders by Mad River Theater Company

Mad River Theater Works will present the play “Freedom Riders” as part of the 2021-22 Sunflower Performing Arts season on Friday, January 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Hesston Mennonite Church.

This original play with live music looks at the work of the Freedom Riders – people, both Black and white, who rode together on buses that crossed state lines in order to protest the illegal segregation practices still in use in the early 1960s. The play emphasizes the importance of working together and the value of non-violent protest.

“While we must remember the important work of the Freedom Riders year-round,” said Holly Swartzendruber, director of Sunflower Performing Arts, “we deliberately chose to present “Freedom Riders” to complement the other Hesston College campus programming around Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month. In the divisive political climate of today, the challenge that the Civil Rights leaders set before all of us to do better and be better continues to be vital work. We hope the audience members take that challenge seriously and find their own ways to make our country and our world a more just place for all.”

Mad River Theater Works is a professional touring theater company with roots deep in the Midwest. Their original plays are rooted in American history and examine the choices we face in a complex world. Through theater and music that uplifts characters from the past, they strive to challenge racism, xenophobia, sexism and intolerance. Mad River also conducts hands-on residencies in schools that connect students to the American roots storytelling and music that is the source material for their work.

In addition to the evening performance, the theater company is also slated to perform for area middle school students the morning of January 28.

Single ticket prices for Mad River Theater Works range from $23 to $27 with discounts available to students and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 or visit the Sunflower Performing Arts website.

Audience members will be required to wear a mask, according to current Hesston College guidelines.