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in·car·na·tionˌ[inkärˈnāSH(ə)n/]: A period of time passed in a given bodily form or condition.

It’s easy to imagine that if we had the ability to teleport ourselves into different dimensions at different points of time, the various forms we would embody. For some, it may be a Nobel physicist or an award winning actress or, perhaps, the greatest athlete. In the play, Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, actor J. Alphonse Nicholson takes us on a journey through the incarnations of an African-American male who exists in five dimensions of the same universe at different points in American history.

In each incarnation – minstrel, cult leader, FBI informant, struggling actor, out-of-work mortgage broker – “Abel” finds himself stuck somewhere between the American dream and the American nightmare. The audience witnesses the trials of a simple man trying to make decisions that will allow him to survive in what African-American poet Claude McKay referred to as “this cultured hell that tests my youth.”

The one-person show, which was written by playwright and poet Howard L. Craft, premiered in January on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to rave reviews. Byron Woods of The Indy newspaper called it “A work whose scope, substance and lyricism recall that of August Wilson.”

StreetSigns in association with New Dog Theatre Company recently presented the production at HERE Arts Center in New York.

Freight isn’t the first time that Nicholson and Craft have collaborated on a production. Nicholson made his professional debut as the lead in Craft and Joseph Megel’s Caleb Calypso and the Midnight Marauders. His other credits include Superior Donuts, Jade City Chronicles Volume 1, Six Degrees of Separation, REDGHOST, Harriet Jacobs, Blood Knot and The Brothers Size.

In addition to Freight and Caleb Calypson, Craft also has authored The House of George, Stealing Clouds, and a children’s musical entitled Indigo Blue. He’s also the author of a book of poems, Across The Blue Chasm. His poetry also appears in Home is Where: An Anthology of African-American poets from the Carolinas edited by Kwame Dawes.

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