Hiawatha Project

Hiawatha Project creates original performances exploring specific social questions through myth, free association, and movement.  The company connects true stories and divergent communities through revelatory theatrical works.
A legacy left to us in song by early American minstrel performers and echoed today by Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, and Bruce Springsteen, John Henry is the mighty railroad man who could blast through rock faster than any steam drill and who died with his hammer in his hand. The real historical person of John Henry, as revealed by Scott Reynold Nelson in his groundbreaking book Steel Drivin’ Man, however, was racing against machines more cruel and violent towards humanity than any steam drill. A young black veteran of the Union Army, John Henry’s fate was tragically forged by the complex and unforgiving machines of industrialization and institutionalized racism during the violent period of Southern Reconstruction.
Funding for the Hiawatha Project  was provided by The August Wilson Center Programming Fund, a program initiative of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Hiawatha Project


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Hiawatha Project