Master Storytelling Draws Audience Close to a Matchless ‘Fire’

In a recent interview with Beltline to Broadway about his play, The Fire of Freedom, Howard L. Craft said, “History is the biggest unveiler for how we can move forward.”

“You can’t talk about racial reconciliation when you have millions of people who don’t really understand what the reconciliation is even about.”

That is the reason the watering down of history in schools, and even in mass media, is such a slippery slope and perhaps why Craft, along with Mike Wiley, have dedicated so much of their time and talent to reimagining the history play. These works are indispensable, not just for schoolchildren but also for adults who may have only been taught partial truths.

Abraham Galloway was one of the master builders of freedom. He was an abolitionist, spy, and statesman and the subject of Davis S. Cecelski’s book The Fire of Freedom. That book was the inspiration for Craft’s play, which was presented and filmed at Theatre Raleigh and is being streamed to commemorate Juneteenth.

The Fire of Freedom looks and feels very cinematic onstage. Screen projections married with cool lighting and arresting sound design, contemporize the work to make this living history palatable. And perhaps no other storyteller in our area can breathe life into a historic figure like Wiley can. Wiley’s signature ceremoniousness and wit is simply unmatched in this type of narrative.

From reveling in the simple freedoms of an embrace or handshake to avowing that there is a thin line between judgment and compassion, The Fire of Freedom connects the past to the present, which leaves its audience to speculate: Am I true to freedom?

The Fire of Freedom is available to stream on-demand through June 27. For ticket information visit

To hear Beltline to Broadway’s interview with Craft and Wiley, click here.

For a complete schedule of Triangle theater events, visit our Calendar Page.

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