When I first became aware of Josiah Henson’s story, I was spellbound. There I saw a Black Canadian historical figure who I'd never heard of. He was a fugitive slave who went on to accomplish things unimaginable that marked Canadian history. And yet I had never heard of him. Who else had not either?
Despite all attempts to break him Josiah, somehow, remained unbroken. Somehow he was able to develop and maintain remarkably unflinching morals, steadfast integrity, and a superior character through immense and debasing hardship. He had the drive to not only survive slavery and gain his freedom, but to make a mark and to leave a legacy.
Josiah made a promise to the ship's Captain as he crossed the Niagara River into Canada. "I will use my freedom well," he swore and, true to his word, he did.
Josiah Henson was as a leader, preacher, advocate, fundraiser, representative, educator, entrepreneur, author and the only person of African descent to be featured on a Canadian stamp to celebrate the centennial of his death.
Charles Robertson has helmed Theatre 5, the Wellington St. Theatre and Bottle Tree Productions as Artistic Director in Kingston, Ontario. He has done just about everything in the theatre world: from directing, writing and acting; to light, sound and set design; to stage management, sales and marketing; to producer and coffee maker. Throughout his expansive career, Charles has written and directed over a hundred plays for adults, teens and kids. Some of his favourite directorial projects include: Amadeus, The Miracle Worker, The Glass Menagerie, Talk Radio, The Hack, Hamlet, Sense and Sensibility, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Some of his favourite written works include: Ghost of the Tree, 'Til the Boys Come Home, Pretty Pieces, The Hack and Eve of Confederation.
When he met Cassel Miles, Cassel shared his passion and dream of creating a show about Josiah Henson. Charles was captured by the story and set about writing a script. Creating JOSIAH and working with Cassel Miles has been a highlight for him.