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Bessie Coleman PORTRAYED BY DAISY CENTURY

The first African-American woman to become a licensed airplane pilot and the first American to hold an international pilot license, Bessie Coleman was a woman who didn’t give up. Born in Texas, raised on a farm, she loved school and walked four miles every day to attend a one-room all-black school through 8th grade. Working with her mother and two sisters, she did laundry, cleaned homes, picked cotton to earn money to finish school. At age 18, she enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural Normal University, but only had enough money for one year. Traveling north to Chicago to live with her brothers, she heard stories from pilots returning from World War I and decided to become a pilot. After applying to 3 American aviation schools that refused to teach her, this smart, naturally-gifted “double threat” prepared to study in France. Learning enough French to get by, she enrolled in a French school, the only black person in the class. Finishing the 10-month course in 8 months, she achieved her goal.

Dressed in an authentic bomber’s jacket, boots and scarf, Dr. Daisy Century as Bessie Coleman is an exciting portrayal of a beautiful, determined woman who knew what she wanted and made it happen. Audience members thrill to tales of barnstorming and stunts with parachutes. Bessie inspires the audience to identify with a woman who risked everything to make her dream a reality. Performed as if standing on a wing of the plane, Bessie is a woman who never gave up, raised by a mother who told her that “these words don’t live here.” Daisy brings a pattern for the younger audience members to use to create their own plane. And she showcases a life that broke the mold, inspiring her audience to do the same.

Invite Bessie Coleman your event:

• Educational Programs: Program with Press Conference for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historic Sites • Pair with Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh • Daisy Century: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor

Amelia Earhart PORTRAYED BY PAT JORDAN

Amelia Earhart continues to fascinate and to inspire. The charismatic, athletic, risk-taking tomboy could charm you with her sparkling eyes, motivate you with her passion, could convince you with her skill. Although she was born in Kansas, Ms. Earhart had solid Philadelphia connections: Amelia attended the Ogontz School, now part of Penn State University, flew a piper cub from Coatesville and spoke about aviation in Germantown. Ms. Earhart was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to actually flying, she wrote aviation books, helped form the Ninety-Nines to support other female pilots, and taught classes at Purdue University’s aviation department. Earhart was active in the political arena as a member of the National Woman’s Party and as a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. A friend to Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Ms. Earhart took Eleanor flying after FDR told her he didn’t want Eleanor piloting a plane. Pat Jordan has also flown a plane and like Amelia, she enjoys taking artistic risks. Ms. Jordan is an adept costumer and is a confident speaker.

Invite Amelia Earhart to events featuring aviation, courageous women, and women’s rights organizations:

• Keynote Speaker: Courage

• Educational Programs: Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites

• Parties: Mix & Mingle

• Parades: Participant

Langston Hughes PORTRAYED BY KEITH HENLEY

Langston Hughes was a poet who utilized the American language, music, slang and religious views to educate the world about African American lifestyles during the Harlem Renaissance. His jazz poetry depicted the "low-life", or the real life experiences of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. His criticisms focused on the divisions, and prejudices, based on skin color within the black community.

Henley’s portrayal deals with the issue of how to be oneself, and encourages all to joy in the knowledge that “I too have a song to sing” and to ask the question “why not me?”

Martin Luther King, Jr. PORTRAYED BY KEITH HENLEY

Born Michael King and later renamed by his father, after the Baptist Minister who was a seminal leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the world’s greatest orators, as well as a pastor, activist, and humanitarian. King is best remembered for the advancement of civil rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work combating racial inequality through the use of nonviolent civil disobedience, an approach refined based on his studies with Veteran African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and his admiration for Ghandi. While King organized or participated in a great many, and variety, of protests, his most famous speech, the “I have a Dream”, was first delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

Keith Henley’s background is one of great diversity. He graduated South Carolina State College with a major in Chemistry and minors in mathematics and biology. Later, he went on to study Theatre Education at Camden County College Blackwood, NJ. He currently owns and operates J.O.Y. Productions, Queenie’s Homemade Sweets and Catering, & Alpha Designs. In addition he is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for Folkloric Heritage Culture Arts Company Inc. of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He began his historic interpretation career with Historic Philadelphia Inc. and has since worked for American Historical theatre and History First Hand and has performed for the Smithsonian Associates’ Teaching American History program, Historic Germantown, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia as well as local libraries.

Charles Lindbergh

NEILL HARTLEY IN THE SPIRIT OF LINDBERGH
 

Charles Lindbergh was the embodiment of the American hero, bringing the world together in celebration of one event, the pilot’s daring 1927 trans-Atlantic flight at the age of 25. Americans celebrated his spirit of adventure, as well as his celebrity. Lindbergh showed what one person in the face of incredible odds can do, demonstrated what it means to be a hero. More than 200 songs were written about him, the Lindy Hop and a Bertolt Brecht / Kurt Weill cantata were in his honor. And then he fell from grace. Neill Hartley shows us a Charles Lindbergh who went from being one of the world’s most beloved people to becoming a man reviled by many Americans. Asked to investigate German air power, he had accurately reported the German air force as superior to ours and advised America not to war against a country that would defeat us. Branded a Nazi, with no proof, FDR made a public statement saying he did not want Lindbergh fighting “for my country.” Mr. Hartley brings to life “Lucky Lindy,” his mechanic, his boss, Calvin Coolidge and others and encourages us to experience firsthand the cult of celebrity and the heart of a hero.

Invite Charles Lindbergh to your event:

•Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites and Retirement Communities:The Spirit of Lindbergh, 40-60 minutes plus Informational Section and Q & A • Pair with Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, George Washington • Neill Hartley: Bio of Actor/Historian

Joshua Lionel Cowen PORTRAYED BY NEILL HARTLEY

Neill Hartley is Joshua Lionel Cowen in this exciting and magical one–man show about the founding and history of one of the greatest toy companies ever created! A fully-staged presentation that will entertain and educate audiences of all ages. See young Joshua Lionel Cowen as he begins building “electrical novelties.”  Then follow his climb to the top of the toy industry as he creates Lionel Toy Trains, one of the most beloved and successful toy companies of all time.

Experience the magic of toy trains and the timeless pleasure of model railroading.  Learn about Joshua Lionel Cowen’s incredible skill at marketing with indelible images that have helped sell more than 50 million train sets and more than 300 miles of track each year!

Invite  Joshua Lionel Cowen to your event:

• Educational Programs: 40-60 minutes plus Informational Section (about the history of railroads, model trains and their popularity with generations of fans) and Q & A for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Neill Hartley: Bio of Actor/Historian

"Lionel Toy Trains are truly the Standard of the World." 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis PORTRAYED BY JILL LAWRENCE

She was a Kennedy. She was an Onassis. She did not define herself by her husbands.

Her enduring legacy would be the force of nature that was Jacqueline!

As a young mother she was catapulted onto the World Stage when her husband John F. Kennedy became the 35th  President of the United States. She quickly observed that America’s rich, cultural and architectural past was being destroyed in the name of progress. Realizing that the future generations would need the insights of the past for guidance, Jacqueline embarked upon a series of preservation efforts: First the White House, and then Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C, and eventually Grand Central Station in NYC. Such preservation efforts galvanized the rest of the country to protect its historic monuments. Aided by her public profile, her work helped bring about the Historic Preservation Act of 1966: the most far-reaching preservation legislation ever enacted in the United States.

Actress Jill Lawrence brings the woman we now know as Jackie O’ to life by interpreting her tireless efforts for the public good. By conveying Jacqueline’s personal and professional struggles and victories, a poignant portrait of the First Lady, wife and mother and activist vividly comes alive. By bringing historic preservation center stage, Jacqueline's gift for the Future was to preserve the Past. Meet Jacqueline! A great American Legacy who wore many hats, not just her pillbox.

Dorothy Parker PORTRAYED BY RENE GOODWIN

A co-founder of the famous lunchtime literary gathering known as the Algonquin Round Table, Dorothy Parker’s comments and pithy poems gained her a national reputation when reprinted in newspaper columns written by her fellow writers. This earthy, articulate writer penned poems, theater reviews, short stories and film scripts, including co-writing the original A Star Is Born. Her particular perspective, the assumed persona of the “bad boy,” was accepted and enjoyed by her audience. This perceptive life-observer lived life her own way, driven to use her talent to see past hypocrisy and any obfuscation to the truth.

Hawking her new book, Death and Taxes, we meet Dorothy Parker, a fascinating woman of the 1930’s with timely messages for today. Excerpting Dorothy Parker’s works, Rene Goodwin’s presentation treats her audience to short stories, poems and quotes rendered so deftly that you can smell Parker’s perfume or taste the food she’s cooking. Goodwin shows us a woman, like herself, who marches to her own drum, living life on its own terms and wasting little time on regrets. Sounding the way Parker sounded, impeccably dressed as Parker might, we meet a woman who’s smart, fun, confrontational.

“Rene’s performance was both captivating and insightful. I heard many positive comments afterwards such as ‘delightful and accurate portrait,’ ‘the caustic commentary was right on,’ and ‘her performance was delightfully wicked and uncannily honest.’ Clearly the audience was captivated by Rene’s performance.” - E.G. West Caldwell Public Library, NJ

Rosa Parks PORTRAYED BY ALEXANDRA FORD

Rosa Parks said: "I'd see the bus pass by me every day...but to me, that was a way we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white one."

On December 1, 1955, what did one woman on a Montgomery Alabama Bus do to deserve such accolades and why? What drove her to her actions and what did she hope to achieve? How did this change her life, and the lives of others in the United States? Rosa Parks’ story will serve to remind all who hear it that we cannot always stand by and observe the status quo. Sometimes, we have to take a seat to be heard and knowingly place our personal comfort aside in order to bring about the changes that will help "We the People..." form that "...more Perfect Union" that is our Nation's promise.

Alexandra Ford is thrilled to bring Rosa Parks' story to audiences in the 21st century. For American Historical Theatre, she also portrays Oney Judge. Other credits include Delaware Humanities Forum and Storybook Musical Theater. Alex has an AAS degree in Literature, Arts, and Philosophy from Camden County College, and her BFA degree in Theatre Studies from Montclair State University.

As part of her research for Rosa Parks, Miss Ford has traveled to Montgomery and Tuskegee Alabama. She has read all the biographies of Rosa Parks and examined pages and pages of supplemental Material related to the Civil Rights Movement in America.

Ruth Patrick PORTRAYED BY CAROL SPACHT

Dr. Ruth Patrick broke through the gender barrier of the early 20th century to become a pioneer environmentalist in the area of freshwater ecology. Her research on diatoms, or single-cell algae, led her to develop what is known as the “Patrick Principle,” proving that a balanced ecosystem in a river depends upon biological diversity.  Dr. Patrick’s work on water quality and pollution has made her an advisor to five Presidents of the United States and a recipient of the National Medal of Science. Her love of the natural world continues to influence new generations of scientists who share her desire to make this world a better place.

Alice Paul PORTRAYED BY TAYLOR WILLIAMS

Blunt-speaking, no-nonsense Alice Paul was born into a Quaker family in New Jersey. Her many areas of studies and earned degrees included a BA in Biology from Swarthmore, studies in social work at the New York School of Philanthropy (now the Columbia University Graduate School of Social Work) and the University of Birmingham.  She learned economics and political science at the London School of Economics, and received an MA in Sociology and a PhD in economics, both from the University of Pennsylvania; all while working for suffrage. Paul later went to law school in order to learn strategy, earning first a Bachelor of Legal Letters, followed by a Master of Legal Letters and finally, a Doctor of Civil Law, all from American University. Inspired by Britain’s Christabel Pankhurst to speak out for women’s right to vote, Paul joined the fight for suffrage in Great Britain, returned home to work with the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded the National Woman’s Party, campaigned against President Wilson’s refusal to support woman suffrage, went on hunger strikes and was jailed in order to secure the 19th Amendment. When that passed, in 1920, Alice Paul wrote and worked for the Equal Rights Amendment, introducing the bill in 1923. The ERA has been introduced to Congress every session since 1982, but has never gotten out of committee.

Ideally cast as the educated, beautiful Welsh-American legal scholar and activist, Taylor Williams takes up the standard of Alice Paul. The two women both studied extensively, studied law and have lived lives dedicated to protecting civil rights. Ms. Williams presents Alice Paul as a woman with tunnel vision, eschewing heated rooms because they would tempt her to read a novel. Taylor Williams explains the simple idea behind the Equal Rights Amendment: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Ms. Williams demystifies the concept, as well as its nonratification. Crediting Ms. Paul as a supreme strategist who revitalized the suffrage movement, Ms. Williams brings to life the all-too-human woman willing to be classified a political prisoner and endure force feedings in order to elicit the public outrage that would eventually convince a nation that women deserve the vote. When Alice Paul was asked why she persevered so single-mindedly, Paul quoted her father, “When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t set it down until you get to the end of the row.”  Taylor Williams would remind us that we haven’t yet finished the row.

“Thanks you so much for the wonderful presentation that you provided in celebration of Women’s Equality Day…. Bringing “herstorical” figures to life is a most effective way to bring the struggle home to those of us who take those hard-won gains for granted.” -Federal Women’s Program, National Security Agency

“Ms. Williams was outstanding in an entertaining and educational performance that captured the complexities and achievements of such a devoted woman. Both the audience and the committee raved over the event.” -Women’s History Month Planning Committee, Smithsonian Institution Taylor Williams as Alice Paul:

Alice Roosevelt's Maid Portrayed by Kim Hanley

In 1905 during the Gilded Age when fashions and fortunes reached fabulous heights, President Theodore Roosevelt authorized the largest diplomatic and imperialistic mission in the History of the United States.  The steamship USS Manchuria, would cross the Pacific Ocean to dock at Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China and Korea and along for the ride was the President's daughter Alice, a media darling known for her outgoing, free-spirited behavior.  Join Alice Roosevelt's maid Peggy, as she packs her mistress's trunk for the voyage home and be privy to the glamour, the politics and the gossip including an exclusive on the rumor of a budding courtship which may just end in the White house wedding of America's most eligible bachelorette.

This program is a glimpse into the world of the  folks "upstairs" through the eyes of one "downstairs".

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt PORTRAYED BY RENE GOODWIN

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt is best-known as the articulate First Lady of the United States, supporting her husband Franklin’s policies and advocating humanitarian causes; and after Franklin’s death Eleanor is perhaps just as well known as a co-creator of and delegate to the United Nations. Born into a family of wealth and privilege, and marrying a distant cousin from a wealthy, powerful family, could have meant a life of comfort and ease for Eleanor. But she became more than a shy socialite dabbling in good works and more than a political wife hosting parties. Especially after her husband was stricken with paralysis, Eleanor became Franklin’s eyes and ears, listening to his constituents and providing a sounding-board for Franklin’s policies. After Franklin’s death, Eleanor continued to champion human rights, actively fighting segregation as First Lady of the World. Eleanor’s difficult early life made her sensitive to the pain of others and her character made her commit to a lifetime devoted to easing that suffering.

Drawn to the strong women of the 1930’s, women who broke free from their limitations and inspired others to do the same, Rene Goodwin approached Pamela and William Sommerfield in the 1980’s to develop an historically authentic presentation of Eleanor Roosevelt. Ms Goodwin researched Eleanor’s voice by playing 100+ reel-to-reel speeches. Rene researched Eleanor’s clothing just as meticulously. And Rene continually refreshes the presentation material by being humbly open and responsive to her audience. Ms. Goodwin’s Eleanor Roosevelt elicits a visceral reaction: she’s frequently told, “We felt the presence of Eleanor,” whether in Part I on the campaign trail or in Part II at Eleanor’s last White House tea. Rene’s Eleanor urges, “One can without any great talents learn to live widely and fully and that, ladies and gentlemen, is my challenge to you today, to live widely and fully. It is, after all, your birthright.”

"I must write to comment on the magnificence of Ms. Goodwin. Her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt completely captivated the audience. We all felt as though we were in the presence of Mrs. Roosevelt herself--quite an extraordinary experience." -- B.H. Ridgewood Public Library, NJ

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

NEILL HARTLEY IN FDR: A NEW DEAL FOR AMERICA

It’s the 1930’s and unemployment is up to 33%. America’s president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, must rally a nation demoralized by poverty, hunger, housing shortages and labor disputes escalating to riots. Unable to walk without crutches, FDR was able through the sheer power of his personality, his political skill and his eloquent Fireside Chat rhetoric, to lead America from fear to federal programs that eventually break through the economic crisis of the Great Depression. Neill Hartley’s FDR: A New Deal for America is a collage of personalities from a watershed period in United States history. When Hartley sings Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? he expresses the prevailing despair, while Hartley’s humor, courtesy of Will Rogers, is a reminder that there is always hope. Hartley leaves his audience with a final speech from FDR, in profile seated in a car with his signature cigarette holder, describing what he envisions for America. We are left to wonder whether FDR, the most powerful man alive at the time, abused the power a grateful nation had placed with him. Or whether he was the right person at the right time to do what needed to be done.

"Our library was honored to host the first performance of this astonishing new program by the multi-talented Mr. Hartley. Not only did Neill re-create the dramatic emotional and political climate of the Great Depression, but he made clear the lasting impact of Roosevelt's New Deal programs on the American economy. ...Neill Hartley consistently produces and performs first-rate theatrical productions." -- P.B. Waldwick Public Library, NJ

Neill Hartley as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in: Arsenal for Democracy

PORTRAYED BY NEILL HARTLEY
 

The date is December 29, 1940.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt has just been re-elected to an unprecedented third term in office.  But the world is in a crisis.   Nazi Germany has blazed the path of destruction across Europe, and America may soon be drawn into war.

Watch this famous moment come to life, as you meet with the President just prior to his delivery of the famous “Arsenal of Democracy” speech.   Learn what President Roosevelt was thinking, and listen to his plea for the support of our Allies.   Experience first hand the history that shaped our nation.

Neill Hartley is Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this fully staged historical presentation that will entertain and educate audiences from school age to adult.  Following the presentation, there will be time for comments and questions for the one of the most influential presidents of all time.

"We must be an arsenal for democracy"

Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1940

Actor, Director, Spokesperson and Teacher, Neill Hartley earned a Master of Fine Arts from Temple University in Acting and was a faculty member there 1989-2000. Since 1994 he has been teaching Speech & Voice at the University of the Arts and is a speech and dialect coach for several professional theaters. As an actor he has performed with Arden Theater, InterAct Theatre, and the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, among others. Mr. Hartley won a Barrymore Award for Ensemble for 1812 Productions’ Batboy, The Musical. Neill is also a busy director for theaters which include Philadelphia Young Playwrights, University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Arcadia University, Isis Productions, the Brick Theater and the Luna Theater. He is the Artistic Director of Acting Without Boundaries, which provides large-scale musical opportunities for physically-disabled teens and young adults. Neill also works in commercials, and feature films and is a member of AFTRA/SAG/CORE. Venues which have produced his one man shows include the Tweeter Center, Academy of Music, Act II Playhouse, Walnut Street Theater Studio 3, Congress Hall, Smithsonian Institution, and the American Glider Council.  This work is Neill’s first formal 1st Person Interpretation program.

Rosie the Riveter PORTRAYED BY ELIZABETH MICHAELS

Rosie the Riveter has been a popular American cultural icon for many years. A song of the same name was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and was recorded by Kay Kyser’s band. J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do it” poster (mistaken for Rosie) is still popular, as is Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post cover featuring the strong, capable woman.  In times of war, women are called upon to take on tasks traditionally considered men’s work and have shown themselves more than equal to the challenge. Even more difficult might have been returning to traditionally female roles once the men return home. Rosie has symbolized rising to both types of challenges.

Elizabeth Michaels’ Rosie the Riveter shows the characteristic strength and grace under pressure for which this American archetype is famous. This self-taught actress has created a successful career and family by identifying her talents and finding ways to make her contribution.

“I’ve been privileged to see many Broadway and other professional shows…your talent, confidence, and stage presence delightfully compares with the best that I’ve seen.” –W.W. LuLu Legion of Honor

Frank Lloyd Wright Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Frank Lloyd Wright was born June 8th, 1867 in rural  Richland Center, Wisconsin. He was the greatest American architect. Just ask him! Except he’d tell you he’s the greatest architect from anywhere… ever!

Frank made Richard Wagner look humble. His life was a grand soap opera on a roller coaster and it went on for 91 years if you don’t count the fact that somebody had one of his houses built in Ireland a couple years ago or that he was buried twice. Wright promoted organic architecture and is known for his Usonian house concept and his Prairie School movement. Wright’s buildings speak for themselves, but a viewing of Ken Burn’s documentary is a big help.

Neill Hartley in: Woodrow Wilson and the Great War

Neill Hartley is president Woodrow Wilson in this captivating and exciting one–man show set in the turbulent days leading up to World War I. This fully staged historical presentation will entertain and educate audiences all ages. Woodrow Wilson, a former college professor somehow defied the odds and become President of the United States. But early success in office was soon overshadowed as Europe exploded into the most brutal war mankind had ever fought. A world filled with international intrigue, deadly U-Boat attacks and secret diplomatic communiqués that would slowly draw America into war.

See Woodrow Wilson as he struggles to protect democracy and promote peace through the League of Nations. Watch as the president and his advisors work out the details of war. Hear the moving declarations of one of the most famous American orators. Experience first-hand the extraordinary times that shaped our nation then and today. Following the performance, there is a short informational section about the early life of Woodrow Wilson, and the many technological innovations that evolved during the time period. A question and answer will conclude the presentation.

The program can be easily be adapted to fit a time slot from 40 minutes to one hour and may include any and all parts listed above. Age suitability for the show ranges from age 6 to adult, and the group size is flexible.

Neill Hartley is professional actor who has performed with many local and regional theaters and is on the theater faculty of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. His first-person portrayals include: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, P.T. Barnum, Joshua Lionel Cowen (Lionel Trains), Sherlock Holmes, and Ichabod Crane.

"The world must be made safe for democracy."

Woodrow Wilson 1917