Not Made for This
A Story of Fearlessness, Determination, and the Journey To Freedom An Original Play by Brianna Madden-Olivares
Brianna Madden-Olivares’ play about the true and riveting journey of Jourden Banks premiered in Harrisonburg in March of 2019, with sponsorship by the branch. Banks was born a slave in Rockingham County in 1833 on a plantation owned by Charles L. Yancey, now part of Merck & Co., Inc. property near Elkton. He was sold away from family to Alabama as a young man, and after several failed attempts escaped to England in 1861. He recalled his harrowing experiences in a book published in England in 1861 by J.W.C. Pennington, the full text of which is available at https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/penning/penning.html.
A graduate of Spotswood High School, Madden-Olivares was a freshman at VCU when she wrote the play, and an intern at the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project. She incorporated music, dance, and a modern narrative voice to link the past to the present. It was a smash hit.