Karin Abarbanel pursued her training as a playwright at Present Tense Productions, a theater workshop program based in New York City directed by Mick Casale, an instructor of both film and drama at New York University. Karin developed Dust of Egypt in a supportive workshop setting over several years. Her play was given staged readings at the T. Schreiber Studio and the Gene Frankel Theatre. Karin’s goals are to expand Dust of Egypt into a full-length play, to bring her one-act play to college drama programs and to adapt it for young audiences. In addition to Dust of Egypt, Karin’s dramatic works in development include short, “Public Service;” a screenplay, Mr. Wilde Goes West,” based on a young Oscar Wilde’s trip to Leadville, Colorado,” the “most dangerous town” in America; and “Walt & Private Hopewell,” a drama based on Walt Whitman’s experiences with wounded Civil War soldiers. The author of several nonfiction books, Karin’s work is published by Penguin Random House, Henry Holt, and McGraw-Hill. She recently completed her debut novel, a children’s fantasy about a young tree whisperer determined to restore harmony to a fragile earth.
I first learned about Sojourner Truth from a biography I picked up in a used bookstore in Upstate New York, not far from where she grew up as a slave. I still remember standing there and thinking: What an incredible name and what a remarkable woman! Wouldn't it be amazing to bring her to life on the stage! In that moment, our journey together began. As my play evolved, it came to focus on one dramatic incident in Sojourner's long and colorful life: her relentless quest to find her little son Peter.
Sojourner was the Oprah of her day. Born a slave, she became a legendary activist and orator. She met President Lincoln, she fought for women's rights with Susan B. Anthony. But as the mother of a son myself, it was the little-known story of her heroic quest to rescue her five-year old boy Peter that really touched me deeply. I knew this was the story I wanted to bring to the stage.
Dust of Egypt isn't just about Sojourner--it's about all of us. It's about love and loss, fighting injustice and holding on to faith, resilience and releasing the past. It's a story that deserves to be told--now more than ever.
My goals for the play are to expand it into a full-length production, to bring the current one-act version to colleges and universities, and to adapt it for younger audiences.