Harriet Jacobs

by  Lydia R. Diamond

Full Length Play, Drama  /  4m, 4f, 1boy(s), 1girl(s)

Harriet Jacobs is an inspiring look at a young woman’s fascinating journey from slavery to freedom.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 4f, 1boy(s), 1girl(s)
  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


    Adaptations (Literature), Biography, Period
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

In her book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs describes with brutal honesty the hardships she endures under slavery, including the extraordinary choices she makes to be near her children. To survive, she escapes into her imagination and through writing, discovers hope for a better life. Accompanied by the rich musical traditions of slave spirituals, Harriet Jacobs is an inspiring look at a young woman’s fascinating journey from slavery to freedom. 
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"...very sophisticated...Lydia R. Diamond goes a lot further than recounting a barbaric era." - Chicago Tribune, Read More 

"Diamond's adaptation of Jacobs' 19th century prose sparkles with life." - Daily Herald, Read More 

"...Diamond mobilizes her gifted pen and her powers of empathy to tell the story of one extraordinary woman." - Boston.com, Read More 


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Professional Theatre


  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.



  • Time Period: American Civil War Era
  • Duration: 90 minutes


4m, 4f, 1boy(s), 1girl(s)
HARRIET JACOBS - (14-19) The author of the first published slave narrative. Harriet possesses an intelligence and centeredness beyond her years. These traits are equally attributable to the strength that surely any slave must have had to endure, and a personal wisdom and acuity passed down from insightful parents and grandparents. Harriet has a social savvyness, a dexterity that serves her well both with her family, peers, and slave-owners. She's very educated, and slips easily between a more casual slave vernacular of the time to the forrnallanguage used in her writing, and when addressing the audience. She is not "putting this on" or "talking proper" she is an adept and unconscious "code-switcher". Historically Harriet is described as having light brown skin and dark eyes. She is the daughter of two bi-racial parents. She is pretty, but does not embrace nor consciously exploit her looks, in her setting they are more often a liability then a blessing and she is aware of this.
- Harriet's strong willed, well-liked, free grandmother.
- African American. 15. In awe of and dangerously jealous of Harriet. A house servant and field hand, and has fewer of Harriet's social and language graces. Charlotte - Slave, various ensemble roles.
- African American, 18. Handsome, strong, good natured, charismatic. He loves Harriet. Harold - Slave, various other roles.
- 50-65. The White Master. The town doctor, he carries himself with a confident swagger. He fancies himself a Godly, family man. (avoidcasting him as the obvious villain) Various other roles.
- The White Mistress. 27. A faded flower. Once beautiful and carefree, she is a victim of her environment. She is hateful toward her female slaves and wary of her husband. She has born a child a year since her marriage at 17. Slaves, various other roles.
- White Lawyer. 30s. From a prestigious family. He is intrigued by Harriet's intellect, and physically attracted to her. He is probably not "in love" with her.
- field slave, various other roles
- 7, Harriet's son, not necessarily required to speak.
- 6, Harriet's daughter, not necessarily required to speak. 
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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)


Available Services



Lydia R. Diamond

LYDIA R. DIAMOND Award winning Plays include: Smart People, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs, The Inside, and Stage Black. Theatres include: Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Goodman, Hartford Stage, Huntington, Jubilee, Kan ...

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Harriet Jacobs premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, IL in February of 2008 under the direction of Hallie Gordon. This play premiered as a part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults program.

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