Show delves into the lives of women
In recognition of March as Women’s History Month, the Wilton Library and Wilton Historical Society are presenting “A Journey…” — a musical one-woman show.
The performance is by Westport writer and actress Kimberly Wilson and will take place on Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. in the Brubeck Room at Wilton Library. There is no charge, but contributions are appreciated. Residents may register at wiltonlibrary.org.
Wilson said the performance will bring to life seven historical characters.
“Each character has their own story,” Wilson said. “After each of their stories, I sing and that gives another level of message of the journey to the next character.”
She added it is a musical in which the music plays an important part of storytelling for the performance. Wilson will portray Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, two invented characters she calls the Slave Woman and African Queen and a new historical figure, Haggar Tonquin of Wilton.
“I’ve been doing theater since I was in ninth grade,” Wilson said. “Telling these stories and sharing these messages are really my passion.”
She said when she prepares for her roles she looks for the emotion and characteristics of a person’s story. Bringing her voice and emotion to these characters, Wilson looks to find ways to connect them to the audience.
“That connection makes it even more real and brings it to life,” she said.
While these characters are historical, they speak to universal themes like hope, faith, family and love, Wilson added.
“Everyone has an example of one of these if not all of these emotions,” she said. “When you connect to them, it makes the theater experience more real.”
For the upcoming performance, Wilson worked with the Wilton Historical Society to create her newest character based on Tonquin. Born in 1770 and owned by Wilton’s Samuel Belden II, Haggar was a black slave married to a Native American slave named Bill Tonquin. She was also documented as being the last slave in Wilton.
To prepare for this role, Wilson worked with the society’s museum educator to learn how to churn butter, break flax, and card wool. This also helped her to understand the physical labor slaves endured. Wilson said there is a lot of history of slave owners and slaves in Connecticut that is untold.
“The more we research and find the truth behind the people who lived and created this country, the more we find the truths of our own personal histories in it,” she said. “That’s why we tell these stories over and over again.”
The performance will also incorporate information about how people of the 18th century worked and lived. At the end of the show, Wilson said she will conduct a “talk-back” session and then a reception will follow.
“This is a story about people sharing their stories,” she said. “The audience talk-back gives the audience an opportunity to share what they’ve received, how they feel and share a part of their own story.”
Wilson said often she sees audience members open up about their own experiences or how they want to make a difference. This is the additional value of live theater, she added, saying it’s also why it’s important the talk-back conversation is held.
“I welcome everyone to feel safe, to share their stories and personal journeys with others and to be willing to listen to the stories of others as well,” Wilson said. “This is where the world must be, where we celebrate and treasure each other.”