Play or Guided Tour? Walk or Interview? Environmental Theatre or Living History?
Well, Pickle Pea Walks just may be all of these, depending on your viewpoint and on the way you like to explore the world around you.
Pickle Pea Walks premiered summer (2016) with 3 walks, each about the White House from a different vantage point and each exploring a different route in the President’s Neighborhood. No! The walks do not go into the White House. But these walks do get you about as close as you’re going to get to the White House.
The Three walks ---
The White House As an Office
The White House As a Home
The White House As a Museum
Here’s where it get’s interesting --- each of the three walks is led by an historical character who once lived or worked in the White House --- but is now dead!
How can this be? Well, each walk is led by an actor playing that particular character:
The White House As an Office is led by Liz Carpenter, First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson’s press secretary.
The White House As a Home is led by Quentin Roosevelt, Theodore and Edith Roosevelt’s youngest child.
The White House As a Museum is led by John Ousley, the first White House gardener who shaped and tended the White House gardens from 1825 to 1852.
So, what really IS a Pickle Pea Walk?
Taking a closer look-see may help.
Is it A Play? --- Yes, each walk has its own script, each written by a noted DC playwright.
The script for the walk with Quentin Roosevelt was written by Kitty Felde. It’s full of tales of Quentin’s rambunctious years in the White House with the White House Gang and stories describing life with “Father.” Ms. Felde even threw in a few of The Gang’s favorite games for guests to try.
Stephen Spotswood wrote a lovely, almost poetic script for the walk with Mr. Ousley. It’s so rich it makes you almost feel the growth of the country during it’s early years.
Patrick Flynn captured Liz Carpenter and her years working for Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson and presented them as lively as they were back in the 60’s.
And the characters do spring to life at the hands of real life actors --- Chris Daileader, Johnny Weissgerber and Aaron Mackisey share the roles of Quentin Roosevelt and John Ousley while Rachel Manteuffel, Beth Amann and Mindy Shaw share the role of the very lively Liz Carpenter.
Maybe It’s A Guided Tour --- Ok, the walk is guided and you do get quite familiar with the neighborhood around the White House, hearing stories about life there through the experiences of each character. But the actors are not guides so there is no information imparted outside the character’s time at the White House.
But Could It be Considered A Walk? --- Yes, of course, there is walking involved. In fact you walk all around the President’s Neighborhood from the North Front of the White House and Lafayette Park to the South Lawn of the White House.
What About An Interview? --- Absolutely! Yes! Quentin, Mr. Ousley and Liz are totally charming and quite ready to answer guests’ questions about their time in the White House. The experience is interview rich.
Could You Call It Environmental Theatre? – Richard Schectner, an American director, presented the concept in the 1960’s --- Environmental theatre immerses the audience in the performance. Sitting or standing within the set — not outside of it — audience members in an environmentally staged play share the same space as the performers. So, yes, Pickle Pea Walks do eliminate the space between actors and the audience. On the walks actors and audience totally interact together as they get to know the President’s neighborhood through the eyes of the walk’s main character.
Can We Say A Pickle Pea Walk Is Living History? --- Well, according the Living History Education Foundation, the intent of living history is to provide a hands-on, experiential learning environment that stimulates student interest in learning about the human side of history. In other words, facts are important but feeling history is really important.
I’m afraid we still can’t decide how to describe our Pickle Pea Walks. We would be delighted if you join us for a walk during our 2017 season, March 25 – September 3, and see what you think the best way to describe it is.