Theater programming can oftentimes be the most memorable guest experience in the Historic Area by providing an opportunity to experience the lives of those in the 18th-century and make connections to our society today through inventive mediums. These connections and learning experiences are central to our pursuit of our framing education and civic engagement campaign goals.
Colonial Williamsburg is in a unique position to educate the public on our nation’s founding story and relate it to our own struggles and issues today so that we can continue to form a more perfect union. Interacting with interpreters and walking the streets of the Historic Area is an integral part of the guest experience in the Historic Area, but theater programming is a way to take that total immersion one step further by presenting more in-depth stories of how people lived, interacted and survived in the 18th century.
Recent insights explored through our theatre programming include Black perspectives on the Declaration of Independence in Created Equal; American Indian views of citizenship in Captives to Citizens; the wide breadth of experience and diversity through “Sentiments of American Women;” and a musical romance adapted from the diaries, letters and poetry of two women in the 18th century from the Jug Broke Theatre Company in Ladies of Llangollen. Our progressive and insightful theater offerings continue to gain national attention, most recently spotlighted in the Washington Post which recognized, “In the midst of contemporary reckonings about the rights of women and people of color, Williamsburg is giving guests…the historical backstories.” This highlights the relevance our programming has on our modern society that is still asking the same questions about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that were posed at the formation of our nation.
Theater mirrors that past, present and future of our world. It makes history come alive right before our eyes, giving audiences a chance to connect with history and draw comparisons to our own modern lives. It helps us understand people from cultures and time periods other than our own by displaying the similarities and differences of their lives to how we live today. Our challenge now is continuing to produce, enhance and expand our theatre programs to ensure all 18th-century stories are represented to their fullest capacity, and leverage our leadership role in the national dialogue that helps us better realize our nation’s ideals.
We are seeking investments to support the people who bring these experiences to life—our talented and dedicated actors, leads, writers, directors and supervisors. We also aim to secure funding to preserve our unique theatre venues, including the Charlton Stage, Palace Green Play House Stage and the Palace Stage as well as the props, costumes and equipment that create these scenes for our guests.
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