I first met many of the Historic Strolls actors while running a program called “Samantha at the Heurich House Museum, an American Girls Program at the old Historical Society of Washington site in Dupont Circle. This show, begun in 1997 is no longer in existence but is remembered fondly by me as my first experience at interactive theater. We were just one of several historic sites in the
where you could “visit” with characters from the American Girls books. Our show featured Samantha Parkington’s Aunt Cornelia and a character based on an actual former resident of the US , the orphaned maid, Heurich House Museum Lena. I originated the character of the Victorian servant, Lena in the show and soon was playing both this immigrant “below-stairs” character and Samantha Parkington's suffragist aunt, “Aunt Cornelia”. Some days I would find myself gliding gracefully up a staircase instructing young girls to “hold their heads high” and other times I was tooting “beggin' yer pardon, miss, but the tea is ready”. It did get a bit schizophrenic after awhile and thus, the corps of Aunt Cornelias/ Lenas was formed. Donna Birchard and I interviewed dozens of actresses for the parts, seeking someone who could work with children and adults and create a believable 1904 character. Actresses came from all disciplines of theatre and they were an interesting crew. The first “Ghost Tour” ever produced by me featured former “Samantha” actors exclusively and many of the actors you see on the character page have experienced life as a Victorian.
It was fun, when it wasn't too hot in that un- air conditioned house, surrounded by sticky and tempting peti-fours and I certainly learned a lot about children from the hundreds and hundreds of girls (and some boys) who passed a bit of 1904 time in our care. And I will always remember one child in particular who squeezed my hand and said “time traveling is so much fun, isn't it?” Yes, my dear, yes it is….