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April 15, 2005

New Evening Programs Put Guests in the Front Row of the 18th Century

Ahoy, citizens! Colonial Williamsburg’s new evening programs set sail this season with a ship’s bounty of tales about romance, terrorists and criminals from the land and the sea.

What is the penalty for traveling with pirates on the high seas? How would you like to be branded a thief—literally? How did women in the 18th century keep their men interested in romance? What did Thomas Jefferson do in the face of a terrorism threat? What can be found when the sun goes down in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is as good as any buried treasure.

“Colonial Williamsburg’s four new evening programs all revolve around some aspect of life in 18th-century Williamsburg,” said Robin Reed, director of Colonial Williamsburg’s public history department. “Three evening programs are based on actual events that took place here. The fourth, ‘A Way to Keep Him,’ was written by a colonial playwright and performed in 18th-century Williamsburg. Evening programs provide our guests with a fun, fresh avenue to experience a side of the colonial capital they have never seen before.”

“To Go A’ Pirating” is a salty pirate tale with a twist. The pirate accused of crimes is a woman, Martha Farley. She is charged as an accessory in a crime spree off the coast of North Carolina. Guests participating in the trial re-created at Colonial Williamsburg’s Capitol are invited to vote on Martha’s guilt or innocence. Guests can view this program Tuesdays and Thursdays this spring through May 29 and Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer from May 30-Sept. 4.

“Crime and Punishment: The Bloody Hand of Justice” illustrates how 18th-century justice was meted out to the guilty. Guests will meet an undersheriff and executioner who describe whipping, ear notching and branding convicted offenders. Susannah Brazier, a colonial woman who was tried and convicted of murder, speaks about her experience from the other side of the law. “Crime and Punishment” will launch at the Public Records Office in the Historic Area and move to three additional venues on Fridays this spring and Tuesdays and Fridays during the summer.

“A Way to Keep Him” also joins the lineup of Colonial Williamsburg’s new 18th-century evening plays. Written by colonial playwright Arthur Murphy, this production paints a satirical portrait of married life among the upper class of London through the story of two married couples. Both husbands lead a secret life. This situational comedy shows how the husbands learn the folly of their ways and their wives learn the secret of “A Way to Keep Him.” Guests can see “A Way to Keep Him” at the Kimball Theatre on April 28, May 6, 12, 26 and June 6.

“The Prime Time History Hour” presents 18th-century issues in a talk show format and is an entertaining, updated version of a similar program offered by Colonial Williamsburg years ago. This program will visit issues pertinent to today’s guests. A familiar theme is war and terrorism, specifically focusing on the Barbary Wars of 1801. Tripoli wanted to collect money from the colonies. President Thomas Jefferson refused and a four-year war ensued. During the program, guests will discuss the American and European points of view for the war. Guests on the show will include the American Secretary of the Navy in 1803, Robert Smith, and French Ambassador to Tripoli, Bonaventure Beaussier. A videotaped statement from Thomas Jefferson will be aired during the program. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Watch for “Prime Time History Hour” on Mondays and alternating Thursdays and Fridays beginning in May in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium.

Be sure to get your front row seat to the 18th century! Reservations can be made in advance at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket outlet. “To Go A’ Pirating,” “Crime and Punishment” and “The Prime Time History Hour” may not be suitable for young children.

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121