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October 7 • 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Prolific playwright Kyle Bass comes to The Mark Twain House & Museum to discuss the upcoming HartBeat Ensemble production of his play, Possessing Harriet. His new play tells the true story of Harriet Powell, a young mixed-race, enslaved woman who escapes her owners at a hotel in Syracuse, New York. Formerly enslaved Underground Railroad conductor Thomas Leonard brings her to the home of impassioned abolitionist Gerrit Smith, who is hosting his young cousin Elizabeth Cady (yes! before she was a Stanton!), a women’s rights advocate. In the 90 minutes before her nighttime escape to Canada, Harriet confronts new ideas about race, gender and equality as she answers the tragic question: What will she give up for freedom?

Kyle will be in conversation with Hartford native Channon Miller, Trinity College Assistant Professor of History and American Studies. They’ll discuss the play’s investigation of the interior and exterior lives of black women during slavery, and the tragic choice between freedom and leaving family many had to make.

Tickets for Reflecting on Harriet: Playwright Kyle Bass in Conversation are $5. To register CLICK HERE.

Attendees who purchase  ticket to this event will receive a discount code for $5 off tickets to Possessing Harriet via their confirmation email!

To get more information about Possessing Harriet and other Reflecting on Harriet special events, CLICK HERE.

Possessing Harriet is part of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Theater Week celebration of theatre in Hartford. For more information, CLICK HERE.   Funding for this event is provided in part by CT Humanities.



A PLAY by Kyle Harris
Directed by Vernice Miller
Featuring Vanessa R. Butler, Robert H. Davis, Olivia Nicole Hoffman, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr.
October 6-15 at the Carriage House Theatre (directly across the street from The Mark Twain House!)


Kyle Bass is the author of the play Tender Rain, which premiered at Syracuse Stage in May 2023. Salt City Blues which was produced at Syracuse Stage in in 2022, Citizen James, or The Young Man Without a Country, about a young James Baldwin, which was commissioned by Syracuse Stage, has streamed nationally since 2021, and has been optioned for an international feature-length film, and Possessing Harriet, which premiered at Syracuse Stage in 2018, was subsequently produced at Franklin Stage Company, at the East Lynne Theater Company, and is published by Standing Stone Books. Toliver & Wakeman, commissioned by Franklin Stage Company through a Support for Artist Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, premieres at Franklin Stage Company in August 2023. His libretto for Libba Cotten: Here This Day, an opera based on the life of American folk music legend Libba Cotten, was commissioned by The Society for New Music. With National Medal of Honor recipient Ping Chong, Kyle is the co-author of Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo, which premiered at Syracuse Stage and was subsequently produced at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. Kyle also worked with Ping Chong on Tales from The Salt City, which premiered at Syracuse Stage. Kyle’s other full- length plays include Leeboe & Sons, Baldwin vs. Buckley: The Faith of Our Fathers, which has been presented at Cornell University, Colgate University, the University of Delaware, and Syracuse University, and Separated, a documentary theatre piece about the student military veterans at Syracuse University, which was presented at Syracuse Stage and the Paley Center in New York. He has also written for Noh theatre under commission by Theatre Nohgaku. Kyle is the co-author of the original screenplay for the film Day of Days (Broad Green Pictures, 2017) and is a three-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (for fiction in 1998, for playwriting in 2010, and for screenwriting in 2022), a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. As dramaturg, Kyle worked with acclaimed visual artist and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Carrie Mae Weems on her theatre piece Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, which premiered at the 2016 Spoleto Festival USA, and he was the script consultant on Thoughts of a Colored Man, which premiered at Syracuse Stage in 2019 and opened on Broadway in 2021. His plays and other writings have appeared in the journals Callaloo and Stone Canoe, among others, and in the anthology Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk about Writing. Kyle is an assistant professor in the Department of Theater at Colgate University, where he was the 2019 Burke Endowed Chair for Regional Studies. Previously, he was faculty in the MFA Creative Writing program at Goddard College, taught playwriting in the Department of Drama and theater and dramatic literature courses in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University, and playwriting at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. The Susan P. Stroman Visiting Playwright at the University of Delaware and the Flournoy Visiting Playwright at Washington & Lee University, Kyle holds an MFA in playwriting from Goddard College, is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America and is represented by the Barbara Hogenson Agency. A descendent of African people enslaved in colonial New England and in the American South, Kyle lives and writes in central upstate New York where his family has lived free and owned land for nearly 225 years.


Channon S. Miller, PhD, is a Hartford-raised, interdisciplinary Americanist and Historian of Black women’s interior and exterior lives. She received her undergraduate degree in American Studies from Trinity College in 2011, and her and completed her doctorate at Boston University, also in American Studies, in 2017. She excavates stories about Black motherhood and Black diaspora from geographies often marginalized. The city of Hartford and the lives and activism of its Black communities since the mid-twentieth century, mass migration of Black people there from the South as well as the Caribbean – grounds and inspires her research. Her writings have appeared in Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International, The Black Scholar, and more. Within the classroom, she invites students to explore the Black past and present by hearing and dialoguing with the voices and productions of Black peoples themselves.



October 7
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
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The Mark Twain House & Museum
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