Featured Individual Character School Performances:
***Age levels are listed with each program. Most programs can be adapted for younger groups with advance notice, but we rely on the Teacher’s assessment as to the group’s maturity and ability to focus for this kind of program. Communication with American Historical Theatre to determine the appropriateness for your group is highly recommended.
Thomas Jefferson: All Men are Created Equal: Grades: 5 and Up
Steve centers his middle school programs on audience involvement, using 18th-Century toys and other participation techniques to discuss the roots of “All men are created equal”. Audience volunteers come up on stage to help “Mr. Jefferson” tell the continuing story of natural law theory, starting with Cicero, moving to John Locke, and then to the Declaration of Independence, before challenging the audience to continue improving on what the founding fathers began in America in 1776. Within this narrative, Steve intertwines Jefferson’s biographical facts, his relationships with other founding fathers, and significant issues like slavery and effective ways to participate in our Constitutional system. He always ends with an in-character Q&A session, when students are invited to ask “Mr. Jefferson” about his life and times.
(Thomas Jefferson is portrayed by Steven Edenbo)
Abigail Adams: Taxes and Tea, The power of Civic Action Grades 5 – High School
Abigail Adams believed in the Common Sense of Independence, and students will be treated to a highly accessible, interactive, fun, and memorable experience that also compliments their class curriculum. In her program for young audiences, Mrs. Adams calls upon members from the audience to act as Patriots and Tories. Using instantly recognizable props, students participate in a program that emphasizes curriculum based themes such as the Boston Tea Party, The Sugar, Stamp, Tea, Townsend, and Coersive/Intolerable Acts, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”, and much more.
Mrs. Adams reinforces the idea that all men and women are created equal, but under the Law, they were not always treated that way. Although the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights did not guarantee equality and freedom for all people living in America, Mrs. Adams stresses the civic responsibility of all citizens to continue to engage in the political process in order to bring about the promise of a more perfect union.
(Abigail Adams is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
George Washington: Revolution to Republic: Grades: 5 and Up
Students will be introduced to George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He will discuss his upbringing and prior military experience, the causes of the war his role in the battle for Independence and the development of the United States Government. For students Middle School and younger, a highlight of this program is the “Military Muster”. General Washington trains patriotic “volunteers” in the musket drills that would turn ragtag regulars into an organized army.
(George Washington is portrayed by John Lopes)
Molly Pitcher: Wagoneer to Canoneer: Grades: K-8
This highly interactive and fun program has children participating in song, dance, cooking, and loading and firing a “cannon”. It highlights both 18th century social as well as military life, while depicting the important role ordinary women played during the War for American Independence.
During the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778), Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley (a.k.a. Molly Pitcher) volunteered to help her husband’s artillery company by becoming a water bearer. When her husband was wounded, rather than let the short-handed company retire the canon, she volunteered to “man” her husband’s position. In the face of uncertainty and danger she put her trust in the belief that helping her country was the highest priority. It takes many hands to fire one canon shot, and all must cooperate and work in an orderly manner to achieve a common goal. To explain how this works, Molly calls upon audience volunteers. Using period appropriate, ordinary household implements, they build a “canon” and learn how to work together to “fire” it.
In this program Mary also highlights life in a military camp during the Revolutionary war. She gives a brief demonstration of how to make Fire-Cakes, she describes how camp soap is made, and guides student volunteers in a simple country dance while singing along with “Yankee Doodle”.
(Molly Pitcher is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
Ned Hector: African American Soldier and Hero of Brandywine: Grades 4 and up
Edward “Ned” Hector is a Revolutionary War hero, a free black man, who was a teamster and noted for his courage during the retreat from the Battle of Brandywine, where he refused to give up his horses, wagon and the armaments he was carrying. Ned wears the Uniform of the Third Pennsylvania Artillery Company to bring his message about the role of African-Americans in the Colonial fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War. He was a Teamster / Artilleryman with Colonel Proctor’s Regiment who fought in the Revolutionary War Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Private Hector was noted for his courage during the retreat from Brandywine, when he refused to let his team, wagon, and armaments fall into enemy hands. He is quoted as saying, “The enemy shall not have my team. I will save the horses or perish myself.” Hear about his daring in the battles, learn about his uniform and soldier’s kit, and enjoy his enthusiasm for his country and his own fight for liberty.
(Ned Hector is portrayed by Noah Lewis)
Martha Washington: Founding Mother: Grades: 1 – 3 or 4 – 6, Middle School and High School
We have all heard about the founding “Fathers” of our country, but what about the founding “Mothers”? Martha Washington’s remarkable, and mostly untold, story helps students to understand the unique role women played in the building of our nation. Through interactive storytelling, younger elementary students engage in Mrs. Washington’s important role as General Washington’s wife during the war of Independence, while upper elementary students experience the challenges and frustrations of her role as the President’s wife, our first “First Lady”.
The program includes a question and answer period which may, for smaller middle school and high school groups, include an “out of character” question period which focuses on the nature of First Person Interpretation, character development, and the possibilities for work in the field.
(Martha Washington is portrayed by Carol Spacht or Pat Jordan)
Betsy Ross: The Flag Unfurled: Grades K-8
Betsy Ross invites her young audience to join her in he upholstery shop. Betsy’s stories of personal trial and determination vividly depict the tense and sometimes dangerous political climate in Philadelphia during the struggle for American Independence. Using period appropriate visual aids she clearly illustrates the need for a flag to identify the new country. As the students watch, she builds the American Stars and Stripes on a colorful felt story-board, step-by-step, from its historical components. Along the way she dispels myths about Betsy Ross and the flag, clearing the way for the students to develop an accurate understanding of the development of our Nation’s emblem. Betsy Incorporates many audience participation elements including inviting students to dress in period clothing and act as “volunteer” apprentices.
(Betsy Ross is portrayed by Kim Hanley.)
Hercules: Culinary Artist – Free at Last Grades: High School
Flamboyant, larger than life, Hercules was George Washington’s talented chef in Mount Vernon, New York and in Philadelphia. Considered a wonderful culinary artist, as gifted as any chef in the colonies, Hercules was a popular and prominent figure inside and outside of the Washington household. Because of his special talents, this slave was afforded many privileges, such as keeping the profits from the sale of left-over food, being able to walk around freely with his gold-handled cane, and the opportunity to dress extravagantly for his station. Hercules worked the system, doing what he had to do, playing a role, succeeding in living life as much on his own terms as possible. One day, he left the Washington’s, never to be found; once master of the kitchen, now master of his destiny!
(Hercules is portrayed by Keith Henley)
William Clark: Corps of Discovery Expedition Grades: 5 and Up, (May be adapted for slightly younger audiences)
William Clark regales audiences with stories of calm bravery in the face of danger, determination in the face of overwhelming odds, and good, old-fashioned adventure. The Corps of Discovery Expedition, which he led with fellow explorer Meriwether Lewis, and was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, was intended for commercial and scientific discoveries. Though the commercial goal of finding a passage by water across the continent from Asia was not successful, this duo of distinctly different personalities made the first transcontinental voyage and some tremendous scientific discoveries in biology and geography.
(William Clark is portrayed by Steven Edenbo)
Mary Young Pickersgill: The Star Spangled Banner: Grades: 5 and Up
Mary Young Pickersgill was the Baltimore seamstress who sewed the very large flag that Flew over the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. This program is filled with colorful visuals and interactive elements. Providing a memorable, educational, entertaining experience about the War of 1812 and the events that led Fransis Scott Key to pen his poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry”, no known to the world as the United States’ National Anthem: “The Star Spangled Banner”. Mrs. Pickersgill physically outlines the dimensions of the very large flag that flew that morning as well as the background of the song it inspired. She also explains her work as a female business owner and flag maker in an age when maritime trade was one of the most important industries in the nation.
(Mary Pickersgill is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
Abraham Lincoln: Forging a New Union Grades: Middle and High School
A portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, which conveys the self-taught, determined, highly individualistic man who brought himself up from poverty, and challenged the status quo. Lincoln’s commitment to the preservation of the Union matched his compassion for those who fought to save it. No stranger to hard work or to overcoming almost impossible obstacles, Lincoln enables audiences to experience the depth of his heart as well as his quick mind and unflappable spirit
Abraham Lincoln established his candidacy for president as a man opposed to the continuation of slavery. When seven states seceded, he undertook the task of keeping the Union together. Lincoln was a team-builder who created an advisory cabinet of rivals and tested them. He took chances, was willing to own up to his mistakes, and successfully led his country through the great constitutional, military and moral crisis, now known as the American Civil War. A keen observer of the human condition, Abraham Lincoln never gave up on his hope for a complete United States free from the scourge of slavery. Only six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding General Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre. Although Lincoln never saw the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery enacted, he died knowing it passed in both legislative houses.
Program includes a question and answer period which is either “in character” or “out of character”. Out of character answer period focuses on first person interpretation and character development, as well as work within the field.
(Abraham Lincoln is portrayed by Bob Gleason)
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Dominion of Conscience: Grades 6 and Up
In 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly. This empathetic depiction of life for African Americans under slavery reached millions in the United States and the United Kingdom. The emotionally charged stories of Uncle Tom, Eliza, and Little Eva helped move the conscience of the country to the great and imperative cause of Abolitionism. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the pro-slavery South. It is alleged that when she met Abraham Lincoln, he told her “So you are the little woman that wrote the book that started this great war.”
In this program, important curriculum points leading up to the Civil War are examined. Students re-create the actions in Congress leading to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, they engage in a brief part of the Lincoln Douglas Debates, and finally participate in a re-enactment of a scene from Uncle Toms Cabin: the daring escape of Eliza and her son Harry.
(Harriet Beecher Stowe is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
Harriet Tubman: The Underground Railroad Grades 3 and up
Harriet Tubman reveals a woman who made up her mind as a young girl that things could be better than they were, “I had reasoned this out in my mind. There was one of two things I had a right to – liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would have the other.” Born Araminta Ross, Harriet Tubman lived as a slave on a Maryland plantation. Frequently threatened, beaten, whipped, and starved, Ms. Tubman’s indomitable spirit could not be broken. Tubman shows us a woman who found freedom for herself and then made sure others were brought to freedom. The brave woman who rescued more than seventy slaves using the Underground Railroad declared, “I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” Harriet Tubman takes each and every audience member along for this ride. She served as a Union spy during the Civil War as well as a nurse. After the civil War, Ms. Tubman directed her energies toward humanitarian causes that included women’s suffrage.
(Harriet Tubman is portrayed by Dr. Daisy Century)
Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?” Grades: High School
(This program is not recommended for ages 14 and under)
Born Isabella Baumfree, the slave from a small town north of New York City changed hands several times, sold by one brutal owner to another just as harsh. Her life included repeated beatings, rapes and a forced marriage. In 1826, having been promised freedom, but then cruelly denied emancipation, she left her current owners and found her way to the Van Wagener’s’ home. There she had an epiphany, became a devout Christian, and renamed herself Sojourner Truth, after which she began her travels as a preacher. In 1850, Sojourner began speaking on women’s suffrage, believing the causes of abolition and women’s rights to be intertwined and equally important. Ms. Truth’s most quoted speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” was delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Although there has been much dispute about the words she spoke and the rhythm of her speech, there is no debate about the power and integrity of the speaker or about the impact of the speech and the speaker’s life. Truth also helped recruit black troops during the Civil War for the Union Army, and she worked as a Union nurse.
(Sojourner Truth is portrayed by Dr. Daisy Nelson Century)
Annie Oakley: Aim for a High Mark Grades: 5 and Up
Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Mosey, was probably the most famous woman of her day. With photographs and posters everywhere, she and professional partner Buffalo Bill Cody may have been the first international superstars. The diminutive sharpshooter and exhibition shooter, who made her own costume, competed in a sport and in a world dominated by men. The no-holds-barred performer learned to shoot from practical necessity, hunting to feed her parents and siblings. Growing up poor, overcoming a difficult and even abusive childhood, she just did what she needed to do to survive and to keep her family going.
She fought for safe working conditions, fair and equal pay for a day’s work regardless of gender or heritage, and for a first-rate show that presented good solid family entertainment. International fame and success came with a price. Later in life she had to fight to maintain the honor of her name. Yet she steadfastly supported the country in times of war, and put many young girls through school at her own expense. Believing that women were just as capable as men, she firmly insisted that they should strive to achieve any goal or occupation that interested them. Her motto was to “Aim for a high mark…for practice will make you perfect.” and her hope was that all women would reach the “Bulls-eye of Success.”
(Annie Oakley is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
George Washington Carver: “There is no End to What I can do” Grades: 2-8
George Washington Carver, better known as the Peanut Man, was the inventor responsible for redeveloping the southern crop industry after the Civil War. His discoveries with plantings of peanuts, sweet potato, and soy beans changed the southern crop industry. His ideas influenced farmers both here at home and countries abroad for many years. Carver was a man of strong religious beliefs and of great tenacity.
In his interpretation of Carver, Henley discusses how to achieve success and brings out the strong will and determination of Carver. He demonstrates how to properly transplant plants. With a succinct visual presentation he explains the process of soil depletion and the need for crop rotation. Students will be surprised to learn many of the 300 products that Carver developed with the Peanut.
(George Washington Carver is portrayed by Keith Henley)
Two Character Performances
Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton: Conflict and the Constitution: Grades: Middle School and up (may be adapted for slightly younger children)
A meeting and debate between the two most controversial founding fathers, Jefferson and Hamilton, in which discussions center on the topics most relevant to their day and to ours: State versus Federal Authority in Government, The Framing of the Constitution and its interpretation, the establishment of the First National Bank and its constitutionality, and the people’s voice in government.
The differing viewpoints between Jefferson and Hamilton’s about the success or failure of the Articles of Confederation and the proper foundations of a new government foreshadow the establishment of our two-party system. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson Interpreters engage in a lively debate which exposes and explains the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and illuminates the impetus behind the move toward a Constitutional Congress and the resultant drafting of the Constitution. The program examines the need for balance between state’s rights and a centralized government while giving audiences a taste of what the negotiations were really like. Throughout the program we come to see how the relationships between key figures, and the need for compromise, between two opposing factions resulted in the development of the imperfect, but ever evolving, government we have today.
(Thomas Jefferson is portrayed by Steven Edenbo, Alexander Hamilton is portrayed by Eben Kuhns)
George and Martha Washington: “In Perfect Felicity” Grades: Middle School or High School
Description: What makes a good marriage? George and Martha Washington shared 40 years of married life together. They supported each other through the trials of the War for Independence, as well as the tribulations of their new roles as President and First Lady. Experience the vibrancy of the Washingtons and the depth of their commitment to each other, as they voice their struggles to balance home and politics, family and duty.
(George Washington is portrayed by John Lopes, Martha Washington is portrayed by Carol Spacht)
John and Abigail Adams: A Union of Hearts and Minds: Grades – 5 and Up
New York: Fall of 1790: John Adams has recently returned from Philadelphia, with prospects on a place for the Adams to live in during Adams’ vice presidency. In the midst of packing, Abigail is still reticent to leave New York and Richmond Hill for Bush Hill in Philadelphia—or to remove herself further from their home “Peacefield” in Quincy, MA. In this conversation, they discuss the important issues of the early years of the United States, and the difficulties involved in beginning a New Nation including the National Assumption of States’ Debts as well as the location of the US Capitol. John and Abigail Adams have been involved in American Politics for most of their married lives. Their 4 children have grown up during the Revolution and founding eras and are now beginning careers and families of their own. As always, the Adams’ main concern is for the continued Independence for their Nation and for their Children to hold responsible places in its future.
(John Adams is portrayed by Peyton Dixon, Abigail Adams is portrayed by Kim Hanley)
We Disagreed as Rational Friends: The Politics and Friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Grades: Middle and High School
In this unique collaboration, John Adams (Peyton Dixon) meets with one of his greater friends and challenges, fellow representative, vice-president, president and patriot Thomas Jefferson (Steve Edenbo). Their teamwork, friendship, rivalry, and finally renewed friendship, is perhaps the most famous relationship between two Presidents of the United States. From their work in 1776 for independence (and America’s Declaration) to their labors in France, Holland and England as ambassadors, these men fought for support and respect of a fledgling America. As they rose to new positions in their country’s government, their differing opinions and approaches to governing initiated cracks in their camaraderie that would grow wider amid negative election campaigns. Yet after a 13 year silence, they once again picked up their pens to resume their discussions, ranging from government to farming, and spanned a globe’s worth of knowledge in a peerless letter exchange. When these two founders died on the same day–July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence–their partnership became the stuff of legend.
Witness Adams and Jefferson in their prime, more men than legends, as they recall their decades-long association, and discuss some of their greatest battles–some side-by-side, some against each other– through their trials and triumphs, and discover how these two men maintained friendship with, and respect for one another, as a nation unlike any other began.
(Thomas Jefferson is portrayed by Steven Edenbo, John Adams is portrayed by Peyton Dixon)
William Clark and Meriwether Lewis: Leadership and the Corps of Discovery Grades: 5 and up (may be adapted for slightly younger children)
The interplay between the two distinct personalities of the Captains, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, made them a leadership team unsurpassed in American history. Those same differences in personality combine as the ingredients for an entertaining stage performance which mixes humor with facts and allows audiences of all ages to truly enjoy this educational experience. Adventure, danger and incredible hardships faced these brave men and their team as they made their trek in the Corps of Discovery. Hear their stories and learn how they faced it all with remarkable calmness.
When performing for audiences that include children, the Captains call audience members on stage to take part in the fun as they create a map of the journey of the Corps of Discovery, encounter and communicate with indigenous cultures, and much more. Every presentation ends with a question & answer session, allowing the audience to lead the conversation in the direction of their own choosing.
(Meriwether Lewis is portrayed by Doug Thomas, William Clark is portrayed by Steven Edenbo)
Additional Individual Character Performances:
Every character listed on the AHT website has a solo program which is approximately 45 minutes in length, plus Q and A. The following is a list of many of our characters:
Louisa May Alcott (Writer, Civil War)
PT Barnum (Showman, Businessman, Civil War)
Clara Barton (Nurse, Civil War)
John Bartram (botanist explorer, French and Indian War)
Alexander Graham Bell (Scientist, Inventor)
Christopher Columbus (Explorer)
Dorothea Dix (Nurse Civil War, Activist)
Thomas Edison (Inventor)
James Forten (African Businessman, Abolitionist, Rev War
Benjamin Franklin (Inventor, statesman, etc. Rev War)
Galileo Galilei (Scientist, Astronomer)
John Hancock (Signer, Rev War)
Ned Hector (Wagoneer, Rev War)
Patrick Henry (Governor, Politician, Rev War)
Francis Hopkinson (Author, Signer, Rev War)
General William Howe (British General, Rev War)
Oney Judge (Runaway Slave, Washington, Rev War
Henry Knox (General, Rev War)
Marquis de Lafayette (French General, Civil War)
General Robert E. Lee ( Southern General, Civil War)
Mary Todd Lincoln (First Lady: Abraham Lincoln)
Joshua Lionel Cowen (Lionel Trains)
William Livingston (Governor, Signer, Rev War)
Dolley Madison (First Lady: President James Madison, War 1812)
John Singleton Moseby (VA soldier Civil War)
Samuel Morse (Inventor)
Thomas Paine (Printer Rev War)
Rosa Parks (First Lady of Civil Rights)
Charles Willson Peale (Painter, Rev War)
William Penn (Proprietor of Pennsylvania)
Molly Pitcher (Cannoneer, Rev War)
Edgar Allan Poe (Writer)
Theodore Roosevelt (Roughrider to President of the United States)
Alice Roosevelt’s Maid: Anna (Miss Roosevelt’s Voyage to the Orient and Back Again)
Benjamin Rush (Doctor, Signer, Rev War)
Sailor/Soldier’s Story (Rev or Civil War)
Annis Boudinot Stockton (Poetess, Signer’s Wife, Rev War)
Gilbert Stuart (Painter, Rev War)
Mark Twain (Writer, Civil War)
Baron von Steuben) (Prussian General, Rev War
Phillis Wheatley (African Poetess, Rev War
James Wilson Signer, Congressman
John Witherspoon (Signer, President College of New Jersey (Princeton), Rev War)