HISTORIC RE-ENACTOR portrays AMELIA EARHART
Historic re-enactor, Jessa Piaia, will present a one-person interpretation of pioneer aviatrix Amelia Earhart entitled “Meet Amelia Earhart (1897-1937): First Lady of the Air”. The program is set in 1936, when Earhart was a popular speaker on the national circuit and preparing for take-off for the around-the-world flight in 1937. Inspired at an early age by the suffragist movement, Earhart identified with the generation of “the new woman” who had won the right to vote in 1920. Acclaimed as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932, she was previously part of the 1928 “Friendship” flight departing from East Boston Harbor on its historic trans-Atlantic flight. At the time of the “Friendship” flight, Amelia was living in Medford, while working as a social worker at the Denison House in downtown Boston, and helping to design an airplane hangar at the Denison Airfield in Squantum, MA. She also served as a role model while pursuing activities that ranged from being a guidance counselor at Purdue University, an aviation writer and author of three books, to designing luggage and a line of clothes for “women who live actively.” Sponsored by (name of group), the program runs approximately 45 minutes in length with an informal Q&A to follow. A collection of photographs, news clippings, and articles written by and about Amelia Earhart will be available for audience examination before and after the performance.
Clad in basic aviator gear and bearing a striking resemblance to the subject of her character portrayal, Ms. Piaia uses drama to reveal the accomplishments, struggles, and contributions of women to American history. She is acclaimed for “recreating history in the fullest sense,” and for using “solid research, compelling writing, and artistry to bring off a one-woman show, perhaps the most difficult kind of acting challenge.” She performs at educational institutions, museums, libraries, worship services, and historical organizations. An eleven-site state tour of Susan B. Anthony in 1994 was supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and a grant for a mini-tour was awarded in 1997 for “From Suffragist to Citizen: A Conversation with Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt,” with Piaia (as Anthony) and Elena Dodd (as Roosevelt).
Ms. Piaia studied performance at London’s Oval House Theatre and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She currently works at Harvard University. Research for this program began in 1992 and was conducted in the Amelia Earhart Collection at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge (MA); the Microtext Department at the Boston Public Library; the Earhart Archives at the Medford (MA) Public Library, and the Amelia Earhart Branch Library in North Hollywood (CA). She performs at educational and cultural settings throughout New England, and the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids (MI) on Presidents’ Day 2004; Miami University campus in Hamilton (OH) in 2006; and the Martin County Public Library in Stuart (FL) as part of Chautauqua South Series in 2008.