Our Story

Since 1992, the American Historical Theatre (AHT) has engaged the minds and hearts of audiences both young and old, cultivating the desire to understand and retain historical information. Founders William and Pamela Sommerfield began with a teaching philosophy that rests on interactive, experiential learning. AHT’s Actor/Historians offer authentic theatrical performances, dynamic workshops and programs using original scripts and spontaneous interaction with the audience, to bring to life beloved honorable men and women from the past. Actors/HIstorians travel to historic sites and museums, businesses, schools and special events all over the world where audiences benefit from the Sommerfield’s focused dedication to the fine art of historical interpretation.

British born and educated, Pamela Sommerfield originally came to the United States and founded The Royal Pickwickians, an organization devoted to the performance of original plays and music from the Victorian era’s rich heritage of ballads, music hall songs and parlor music. The Royal Pickwickians gained a reputation for providing knowledgeable interpreters of George Washington, William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and others.

In 1989, William Sommerfield was chosen by Chief Justice Warren Burger to recreate Washington’s Inaugural Ride from Mount Vernon to New York, to be sworn in as first President of the United States. Mr. Sommerfield’s extensive study of the Father of Our Country and his two-week residency at Washington’s Mount Vernon home allowed him to masterfully recreate this historical event for the Bicentennial of the Constitution.

In 1992, The Royal Pickwickians officially became the American Historical Theatre, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, after transforming into a repertory company of more than 60 Actor/Historians for hundreds of venues in Philadelphia, the US and abroad. AHT carefully researches and investigates each of its characters, and all parts are cast with full regard to portraits, accurate historical costuming and comprehensive knowledge of the character. This dedication to historic detail allows Actor/Historians to interact and answer questions from audiences as well. When the “Tryal of George Washington” was filmed for the BBC in London, AHT’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin appeared at the historic Inns of Court prepared for cross-examination by a group of powerful American lawyers.

Currently, hundreds of programs and plays created through the American Historical Theatre bring honorable characters to life, continuing to educate and delight audiences all over the world. 

" We each spend part of the day's busy schedule conversing with visitors in the Rotunda for The Charters of Freedom, which is where the original signed Declaration and Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a few choice documents are on display. I am overwhelmed every year by this experience. In this picture, John Lopes (Washington) talks about the Declaration with a young guest.  'Pictured Above' "