Composers and their stage works 

Planet Fires

Thomas Babe

The action of the play centres on the picaresque adventures of Henry Hitchcock, a Union Army deserter, and Will Hill, a runaway slave with whom Henry has journeyed to the north. They join the travelling circus run by a flamboyant impresario named Bartholomew Van Amburgh, who wants to make Will, the newly freed slave, the centrepiece of his side-show. A shrewd capitalist ringmaster, Van Amburgh is obsessed with money and machines - the sinister harbinger of the increasingly industrialised nation which will arise from the ashes of the Civil War. The irony of the play is centred on the question of how such "growth and progress" will benefit the country and what quality of life and freedom - it will provide for its citizens, black and white alike. Along the way Henry and Will encounter, and debate with, such personages as Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and even Abraham Lincoln - with results that are both comic and dramatic, and which foreshadow the dilemmas and disorders which we are still struggling to resolve in our own time.