Have you ever wondered what it might be like
if our founding fathers and mothers could step off the pages of
history books, come down from their monuments, and speak with us?
My work can generally be described as that of a Thomas
Jefferson impersonator, motivational speaker, or a Thomas
Jefferson re-enactor. Some simply say that I am a Thomas
Jefferson look-alike. My favorite way to explain what I do
is to say that I am a 1st-Person Interpreter.
First-person interpretation is the dramatic portrayal of our
nation's heroes as they were before they were encased in statues
and imprisoned in books. The first-person interpreter gives a
heartbeat to the priceless knowledge we have gathered from
artifacts and ink, breathes life into the history we have
learned from museums and memorials, and speaks the thousand
words a picture is worth.
I shape my
presentations according to the distinct interests and
schedules of specific audiences, as well as to the
nature of each event. Usually I begin my show with
a biographical monologue that focuses on subjects
and stories requested. Then I engage the audience
in a Q&A session, which is my favorite part.
When I first began to learn the art of
historical interpretation from William Sommerfield of The American Historical Theatre ,
he taught me that the core of first-person
interpretation is theater. The bottom line is that
if the audience members are engaged and enjoy themselves
while they learn, then I have done my job. Many
people have the best time when they can jump in and join
the fray. Others prefer a little
more distance. In the end the direction
my show takes is up to the audience.
The majority rules. I
think Mr. Jefferson would appreciate that.
Each venue is unique. I therefore
address themes and events from the entire span of
Jefferson's life while also tailoring my format
according to the interests and needs of the most
important people in the room - the audience!
Oil Portrait of
Steve Edenbo as Thomas Jefferson
Painting by the talented
Pamela Patrick White