The Cambria was a trans-Atlantic paddle-steamer. In August 1845 among the passengers on board out of Boston was escaped slave Frederick Douglass. His autobiography had just become a US bestseller. Slave-owners placed a price on his head. He fled to Ireland.
The Cambria tells the story of the life-and-death voyage he survived to become what Abraham Lincoln called "the most impressive man I ever met”, and the most influential African-American of the 19th century.
Frederick Douglass spoke on platforms with Daniel O’Connell MP, including Conciliation Hall in Burgh Quay Dublin, where INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) now stands.
The Cambria starts there today, where a teacher fears her Nigerian pupil has been deported. It’s twenty years since the introduction of the Direct Provision temporary system of accomodation for international protection applicants in Ireland.
Performed by Sorcha Fox and Donal O’Kelly, with sound design by Trevor Knight. Based on original direction by Raymond Keane.
The Cambria has toured widely including New York, Los Angeles, Glasgow, Liverpool and Harare. Sorcha Fox is well-known from RTE’s Fair City and as a poet and will shortly be appearing with Palestinian spoken word artist Rafeef Ziadah in the Hawk’s Well. Donal O’Kelly is an award-winning playwright and performer.
Review excerpts for The Cambria:
“Superb evening at the theatre .. Don’t be left on shore when The Cambria weighs anchor” - NYTHEATRE.COM
“Entertaining, thought provoking and beautifully crafted” - IRISH TIMES
“Gripping ... a highly commendable production” - SUNDAY BUSINESS POST
“One of those concentrated, magical experiences one hopes for every time one takes one’s seat in the theatre” - BLOGCRITICS.ORG NEW YORK
“Donal O’Kelly steps to the frontline of contemporary Irish playwrights.. you’ll be swept up by the storyline from start to finish” - IRISHCENTRAL.COM - IRISH VOICE - NEW YORK
“Provocative, elegantly structured work .. excellent performances” - IRISH EXAMINER