History Alive program to offer tales of Revolutionary women


Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library’s History Alive program series will continue on April 24 with “Revolutionary Women,” an original dramatic performance by professional storyteller and historical character interpreter Darci Tucker.

The performance will begin at 7 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 303 South Main Street, Kilmarnock. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. A $10 donation is requested to benefit the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library. Organizers also ask for reservations to 462-7280, or history@mbwm.org, to help with a seating count.

“Darci Tucker engages the audience in an 18th-century world which she has thoroughly researched. Her first character, Jane Walker, is a composite based on multiple true stories,” said executive director Karen Hart. “She represents one of thousands of wives who accompanied their soldier husbands during the Revolutionary War to provide support work like laundry, cooking and nursing in the army camps.”

Tucker’s other two characters, Deborah Samson and Elizabeth Thompson, were real individuals. Samson joined the Continental Army by disguising herself as a man. She enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment and fought in battle as a light infantryman for a year-and-a-half before her secret was discovered. She received an honorable discharge for her patriotism and was later awarded a military pension.

Thompson and her husband were British loyalists who owned a milliner’s shop and dress-making business in Charleston, S.C. When Mr. Thompson was asked to sign a non-importation agreement against the crown, he refused. The patriots tarred and feathered him, put him in jail and eventually banished him. He went back to England while Elizabeth stayed behind to keep hold of their property. When the British unsuccessfully attempted to take the city of Charleston in 1776 and their soldiers were captured and imprisoned, Mrs. Thompson offered her home as a place to hold the British officers. While they were there under house arrest she began spying and carrying messages for them.

Tucker is a playwright, actress and storyteller who performs across the country. She is also a museum educator with more than 25 years of experience, including frequent work with Colonial Williamsburg, and a consultant who provides professional development and storytelling training to teachers, living history re-enactors and museum personnel.  She is the author of Embodying the Story through Character Interpretation, a step-by-step guide to research, story-crafting, costuming, staging and performing.

Tucker has a bachelor’s in political science from UCLA and founded her company American Lives in 2000 with the desire “to bring history to life for students and museum visitors [and] to help them understand our culture, rights and responsibilities as Americans by exploring the lives of our predecessors.”

“The evening event is aimed at adults, but would be suitable for youth ages 9 and up with a parent or grandparent,” said Hart. “Also, thanks to funding support from the Wiley Foundation, Tucker will give an afternoon show to grades 4-5 at Lancaster Middle School.”

The History Alive series will conclude in the summer. “Music Between the Great Wars: 1920-30s America” by Ampersand music group is slated for July 9, and “Looking the Part: Fashions and Manners of 18th-century Virginia Gentry” by historical interpreters Jami and Ted Borek, July 27.

A Museum Gala on June 9 will include a fundraiser dinner, auction and tours of “Westlawn,” a private home in the Heathsville Historic District. Visit mbwm.org/calendar.asp.