Historical Film Drama "The Bell Affair" Announced by Dept of Parks and Rec., Pr. Geo. County

May 19, 2022


Media Contact: Angel Waldron, 301-446-3311

Program contact: Megan Merchant, 301-277-0015

Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County, Announces Historical Film Drama

“The Bell Affair” at Publick Playhouse

Riverdale, MD – The Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County, part of The M-NCPPC, is proud to announce the Premiere of The Bell Affair at The Publick PlayhouseAn animated documentary, the historical film drama tells the true story about the legal fight for freedom from enslavement by the Bell family. It will premiere on Thursday, June 2, 2002, at 7pm at The Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Rd, Cheverly, MD 20784.

The Bell Family was enslaved in Prince George’s County and Washington, DC during the early 19th century. Their story is just one example of the courage displayed by thousands of enslaved Black individuals who fought for emancipation. The story is brought to life by a cast and crew across the U.S. as a response to the national reckoning with race and the need for stories of truth. The film is based on a true story from the book A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas, III, which is the 2021-2022 Prince George’s County Reads featured book.

In the summer of 1835, a strike at the Washington Navy Yard fueled a citywide race riot. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Francis Scott Key, set out to prosecute abolitionist Reuben Crandall for libelous sedition and the intent to incite a slave revolt. Amid this political turmoil, Daniel Bell convinced Mary’s dying slaveholder, Robert Armstead, to emancipate Mary and the children. Two days later, Armstead died. His widow Susan Armstead refused to honor the Bells’ freedom, leading them to seize their own freedom on the Pearl.

This event is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council. The premiere is free, but a reservation is required. For tickets, visit

About the Department

The M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation delivers an award-winning park system through progressive, innovative leadership and a commitment to the community and the environment in Prince George’s County. For more on the Department of Parks and Recreation, visit and stay connected on FacebookTwitterPhotoShelter, and Instagram. The Department of Parks and Recreation encourages and supports the participation of individuals with disabilities in all programs and services. Register at least a minimum of two weeks in advance of the program start date to request and receive a disability accommodation. 

About The Publick Playhouse

Known for its comfortable, inviting space and great acoustics, the Publick Playhouse is one of the best performing arts venues in the greater Washington, DC area. Since 1947, the richly historic Playhouse continues to serve as a popular venue for music and modern dance, musical theater, historical drama, educational programs, and monthly events for seniors. With its ornate sky scene and plush seating for 494, the theatre is one of the two surviving Art Deco theatres in Prince George’s County.