Connecticut
Profile Type: Artist
NEFA Grant Recipient
Artist
Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti

Historian, playwright, actor, storyteller.    As a Living History performer, storytelling is my roots and vehicle for sharing untapped American history. Ona Judge is one such historical story. When one thinks of our founding fathers- enslavement does not come up into their consciousness. Many citizens seemed to forget that a few of our founding fathers were themselves Slave owners.

 

“The story of Africans is deeply embedded in the history of America,” slavery was the basis of much of the nation’s wealth. There is always an underside – hidden from sight the more unpleasant or reprehensible side that needs to surface to give an integral portrait of a historical event or person. Ona’s story is one such event.  It is still important and should be heard by all. We as a people are taught mathematics, science and American history because it is important. The sixty-minute Living History program is suited for diverse audiences: adults, families, senior citizens, and students, with an Interactive Q&A. The program allows the audience to take part, immerse themselves in the contact and conflicts of the time period making it more socially relevant and realistic.

 

To Ona’s owners, George and Martha Washington, she was merely “the girl.” She was a criminal until her death because of one decision, the decision that changed her life and American history in our eyes.  Oney Judge was an assertive individual who had the courage to claim her own freedom, even if it meant defying the President of the United States.

 

“If I am not for Myself, who will be for me? This is one of the obscure stories but also true. It is an American story- it is a story that serves to inspire and enrich our understanding of the American past.

 

"If I am Not for Myself Who Will Be for Me" - During the fall of 1796, George Washington’s final months in office, Ona Judge Staines, an enslaved person, escaped the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia. There is always an underside - hidden from sight the more unpleasant or reprehensible side that needs to surface to give an integral portrait of a historical event or person. Ona's story is one such story. Her voice provides the informative accounts needed to appreciate her struggles, self-determination and triumphs of her life. Her account was not a stereotypical runaway account.

 

 

 

 

 

            

           

 

Find Me On …

Additional Links: 
18 minutes of an 1hour program Tea Talk "Black Heritage Trail"
Oney Judge telling her story

I Have Worked With

  • November 2021

    Performance of Ona Judge Staines "If I am not for myself who would be for me." 

  • March 2020

    Solo performance "I Can't Die But Once" Harriet Tubman gave speeches before and after the Civil War, as a way of raising money for her humanitarian causes. However, it is 1904 and Harriet is at the 28th Annual Convention of the New York State Suffrage Association. Susan B. Anthony was the scheduled speaker, while Harriet was in attendance, not scheduled to speak. However, an impromptu introduction by Anthony led to Tubman's speaking at lengrh.

  • March 2020

    Solo performance "I Can't Die But Once" Harriet Tubman gave speeches before and after the Civil War, as a way of raising money for her humanitarian causes. However, it is 1904 and Harriet is at the 28th Annual Convention of the New York State Suffrage Association. Susan B. Anthony was the scheduled speaker, while Harriet was in attendance, not scheduled to speak. However, an impromptu introduction by Anthony led to Tubman's speaking at length.

Pages

  • NEFA Grantee
  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Gwendolyn
Job Title/Position: 
Living History Actor/Historian
Mailing Address: 
PO Box 380496
East Hartford, CT 06138-0496
Physical Address: 
41 Elmer Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
Last Name: 
Quezaire-Presutti
Phone: 
860-212-6129

About

Profile Type: 
Artist
Primary Discipline: 
Theater - Solo / One-Person Show
Additional Disciplines: 
Humanities - Cultural Heritage
Humanities - History
Theater - General
Theater - Children's
Theater - Solo / One-Person Show
Theater - Storytelling
Visual/Crafts - General
Visual/Crafts - Decorative Arts
Visual/Crafts - Illustration / Drawing
Year Founded: 
1997
Populations Served: 
Adults
Businesses
Elders
Families
General Public
Immigrant Populations
Incarcerated (or Formerly Incarcerated) Individuals
LGBTQ Populations
Native American Tribes
Nonprofits
People with Disabilities
Veteran/Active Duty Military Personnel
Institution/Business Type: 
Artist (Individual)
Activities and Services: 
Performance / Concert / Reading
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
20
Seasons Active: 
Spring
Summer
Fall
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
County
Multi-County Region
State
Multi-State Region
National
International

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
National Museum of African American History & Culture
Museum of African American History
International Museum of Theatre Alliance
National Association of Interpretation
SoloTogether
National Women's History Alliancce
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery
ALHFAM (The Association for Living History Farm & Agricultural Museums
Reaching Beyond the Classroom
The Connecticut Storytelling Center
New England Foundation for the Arts
ProTalent/Boston Casting Inc
National Association of Black Storytellers
Strawbery Banke Museum Portsmouth Independent Contract.
Debra Chassen Acting Agent
Education: 
Institute of Texan Cultures
Hartford Stage Company
The International Museum Theatre Alliance
Theatre in Museums/Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Connecticut Storytelling Center
Manchester Community College Theatre Improv
National Association of Interpretation
Tejas Storytelling Association
International Toastmasters
South Arts Federation
St. Joan Antida Academy
Awards: 
Theatre in Museums/Theater & Interpretation Techniques Certification at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Alliance Award for valuable service & support Institute of Texan Cultures of San Antonio
Epsilon Sigma alpha International - Keynote Speaker/regional
San Antonio Professional Tour Guide/Updated African American Studies Training
The Institute of Texan Cultures Director's Award for Excellence
Gift to New Hampshire Humanities in my Name
The New Boston Fund Individual Artist Fellowship through the Greater Hartford Arts Council
Certificate of Merit Office of Secretary of State Connecticut
Certificate Arts for Learning Signature Core Services
1st Place International Toastmaster/Interpretive Reading
Crowned Ms. Senior Connecticut 2010
Strawbery Banke Museum's American Lives: A Timeline of Living History Award for "Most Authentic Feeling 2019
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient

Accessibility of Services

I do not have control of accessibility of Services.

I am a Touring Artist

I am NEST eligible
Technical Requirements: 
Space for the performance along with two or three set pieces, provided by the actor is suited for library, multipurpose room, auditorium or a large classroom. Platform increases the viewing pleasure, for a large groups
Allow time for set up and break down.
arrival time 1 hour prior to performance & breakdown 30 minutes
Sound system lapel or head mic if available and technician
reserved parking space marked
Travel Fee: Based Upon mileage Note: pricing may vary for weekend/out-of-school time Processing Fee of $30 added to all contracts. Post Performance workshop $100.00
Fee Range Minimum: 
$800
Fee Range Maximum: 
$3,000
State of Residence: 
Connecticut
Minimum Number of Performers: 
1
Maximum Number of Performers: 
1

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
Community Site / Center
Corporate Business
Healthcare Facility
Private Studio
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Arts Integration - History and Social Science
Ages Served: 
Middle School-age
High School-age
College-Age
Adults
Seniors
Certifications / Training: 
2010 Theatre in Museums - Theatre and Interpretations Techniques at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Signature Core Services Certificate/Arts for Learning Connecticut-
2011 Theatre in Museums - Theatre and Interpretations Techniques at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Hartford Stage Compamy
Alliance Award Institute of Texan Cultures San Antonio, Texas
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures a Smithsonian Affiliate
Manchester Community College
Fee Range Minimum: 
$700
Fee Range Maximum: 
$3,000