" Listen to the Drums"
(Source: Phyllis Edgerly Ring)
Edwards has shared the crowning jewel of her Black History Month project,
a production called "Listen to the Drums----A Tribute to Harriet Tubman,"
with hundreds of students in local schools. Perhaps it is more accurate to say
that they have shared it, including a standing-room-only performance at
Portsmouth's Seacoast Repertory Theatre, February 2002 as part of an annual
Portsmouth Black Heritage Festival. Many of the actors, ranging from first-graders to
college students, students with whom Edwards had previously
produced the play in schools throughout the Seacoast.
"Listen to the Drums" combines vignettes from lives of blacks from several
centuries. Such as, Benjamin Banneker Jemison. Dorothy Dandridge, and Sojourner
Truth share the stage with contemporary figures as Tiger Woods and black
Astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison. Abolitionists like William Lloyd
Garrison and other whites who supported civil rights made an appearance since they are a part of the black story, too.
Students research characters in depth and select the one they would like to
portray. Edwards's plans are to keep the production adaptable enough to fit any class or school.
For Black History Month, Edwards wanted something grand that would use
the power in drama to teach about feelings and differences and how, although there are differences between people, we really have so much more in common as human
beings. "Listen to the Drums was born out of that."
"You always wonder whether something like this will work and accomplish what you hope it will," Edwards said. "When we first got children together and were
going over it, we reached the point where a little child comes out in chains and
says, "What a shame, what a shame, that slavery was brought to America by
people who escaped England that they could live free." I felt this overwhelming
sadness and had to slip away to the ladies' room. That is when it came down on me
---there was a beauty about this production, but the sadness was there too, and I knew then that it would be a piece that could teach.
As a teacher, poet, designer, composer, author, writer, and an all around good
compassionate Christian person, Edwards retired from teaching school in 1999
with 34 years of dedicated service to children. She now substitutes frequently
in the seacoast schools. Many poems have been written by Edward as well as a soon
to be published book, title, "A Ribbon for Sammi." The title came to her from one of the
characters in her production "Listen to the Drums."
Edwards is married to Kelvin Edwards and they are the proud parents
of two adult children and three grandchildren.
"People are people, wherever we are from, and it is what we bring with us of value that matters." Royaline Edwards
In the NAACP SPOLIGHT- Royaline Edwards