Friends Speaker Series
As part of the Friends mission to provide interesting and compelling programming for the public, the annual Speaker Series is held in cooperation with the Washington Memorial Chapel. This series, which runs from September through May, gathers an array of historians, scientists, authors, archeologists, actors and performers to share with the public their multiple points of view on history, the natural world and the ongoing commemoration of Valley Forge.
Presentations are held at Washington Memorial Chapel, on Route 23 in Valley Forge, on Tuesdays at 7 pm. Free and open to the public. A reception follows each talk.
For directions to the Chapel, visit wmchapel.org.
Tuesday, April 1
“Women’s Work” in the Eighteenth Century
Eighteenth-century housewifery required many varied skills. Gardening, cooking, domestic medicine, dairying, brewing, making and mending clothing, all while producing and caring for children... how did colonial women manage? Research in period sources coupled with replication of domestic processes can help us understand how colonial women did it all. As a historian, professional teacher and researcher, Dr. Dillon brings her unique insights to this edifying and surprising “show and tell” presentation about the duties and tasks of eighteenth-century women.
About the Speaker
Clarissa F. Dillon, who received her doctorate in history from Bryn Mawr College, has been involved in “living history” since 1973. A highly respected authority on eighteenth-century domestic living, she has worked at numerous historic sites (such as Cedar Grove in Fairmont Park, Waynesborough in Paoli, and the William Trent House in Trenton) as a consultant and demonstrator of women’s work. A popular speaker at national conferences, Dr. Dillon is the author of numerous books, articles, and papers including such titles as Blessed be he who invented PUDDING, This Truck doesn’t use Diesel, They did too eat Tomatoes, Eighteenth-Century Childhood, and A BAKER’s DOZEN of Eighteenth-Century Grain Recipes.
Tuesday, May 6 – Park Theater
An Evening with General George Washington
and the Marquis de Lafayette
Although there is no single person in America’s history who has had greater impact on the United States of America than George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette is also important to America’s history – for without the French, we would not have won the American Revolution. Lafayette was a great admirer of General George Washington, and they shared a lifelong father-son relationship. Tonight we welcome the return of General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette to Valley Forge once again.
A contemporary – and true – story is told about Washington and Lafayette, as portrayed by Dean Malissa and Ben Goldman. Several years ago the White House commissioned the American Historical Theater, of which both men are members, to create and perform On Fire for Liberty. This two-person play highlights the close relationship of the Marquis and George Washington and the friendship of France and the emerging United States. On Fire for Liberty was performed with great success in the East Room of the White House for guests that included President George W. Bush and the former French Republic President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is said that then-President Sarkozy, who prides himself on knowing who is French and who is not, laughed heartily when he discovered that Goldman was a native, not of France as Sarkozy had guessed, but of the United States.
About Dean Malissa
A life-long resident of Philadelphia, Malissa has been a performer since childhood. After graduating with a degree in Communications, he took the business world by storm, and then, in 1999, began “Act II” of his adult life – pursuing acting as a profession. As George Washington, Malissa has crisscrossed the nation, been cast in film, TV, commercial, radio, stage and voiceover productions, and even portrayed Washington in France and China. Malissa was deeply honored to be named as the official and sole George Washington historical actor at Mount Vernon.
About Ben Goldman
Born into a theatrical family, Ben Goldman was active in his high school’s theater program and continued to pursue his dramatic passion at New York University. In 2007, the American Historical Theatre tapped Ben to portray the young Lafayette, who was 19 at the Battle of Brandywine. Ben’s uncanny resemblance to the youthful nobleman, the actor’s ease with the French language and spot-on French accent – plus his quick wit and intelligence – have endeared Goldman’s “Lafayette” to hundreds of audiences throughout the country.