Scholar in Residence Combines History and Performing Arts

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Historical figure Harriet Tubman visited SMUS last week, in the form of veteran performer Leslie McCurdy. Starting her day at the Junior School, she performed her one-woman play The Spirit of Harriet Tubman for students in Grades 3, 4 and 5. For the younger students, she performed Hero, a simplified version. Students from the Senior School attended the presentation and offered their thematic insights afterwards. As part of their humanities studies program, Grade 6 students also saw the play, which Leslie McCurdy wrote herself. Ms. McCurdy also conducted an acting workshop with some of our Grade 9 thespians.

Junior School

“It was amazing – it actually seemed very real because she dressed up in all those costumes and it seemed very real, even though it was all one person!” – Nadia, Grade 3

“She incorporated a lot of information into her presentation and it kept everyone interested. We have been learning about slavery and equality – we each chose a different abolitionist and mine was Harriet Tubman. It was nice to get more information about her today.” – Anna, Grade 5

“She used a lot of facial expressions and you could always tell what she was thinking.” – Matthew J, Grade 5

“We’ve been talking about racism and even if people’s backgrounds are different, they are still equal.” Lilly, Grade 5

“Her ability to change ages was astounding. She went from a 5 year old to a 90 year old!” – Anna, Grade 5

“It was amazing – her ability to play all the roles as one person. She could create a mental picture in your mind.” – Sofia, Grade 5

Middle School
Harriet Tubman the play was fantastic. It is a one-woman play about the life of Harriet Tubman. The actor wrote the play herself, and played Harriet Tubman along with all the other characters, amazingly. The play was interesting the entire way through. I really enjoyed the play.” – Jared. Grade 6

“I think that the Harriet Tubman presentation was a great experience to help us learn about slavery in the 1800s. I feel that the actor was totally in character and had great expression and really made you feel like you were living in the slavery times… The actor playing Harriet Tubman really showed emotion when sad or happy moments happened in the story. She is also a great singer with a great voice and has a great sense of humour. She was totally suitable for this role and I think she should come again.” – Karmen, Grade 6

“The Harriet Tubman play last Wednesday was amazing. The actress that portrayed Harriet Tubman was a very convincing actor. She really knew how to play Harriet Tubman and she could make us believe that she was Harriet Tubman. In Humanities, we are learning about human rights and privileges. In the Harriet Tubman play, we learned how basic human rights were violated through slavery. We also learned that Harriet Tubman fought for her rights and other people’s rights too. I really enjoyed the Harriet Tubman play and I thought everyone else did too.” – Triumph, Grade 6

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