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Performance    Reviews

What can I say - Gwendolyn knocked it out of the park last Saturday. Everyone was talking about how wonderful and talented she is. I am so glad she had a standing room only for “Harriet”. We questioned bringing the same character back a second year, not sure if everyone who might come may have seen her before. Obviously, if they had seen it previously, they wanted more!!!
I can’t thank you enough for giving up your day to make our day a success.

Thank you, L.P. - Queen Anne's County Arts Council - 9/21/17

Ms. Briley-Strand, Black History can be celebrated in many ways. The celebrations are as vast as the history itself. The Seat Pleasant Black History Program was not just a celebration, but an experience. The audience was taken back in the time and walking with Sister Tubman. Everyone in the audience was captivated and engaged.Your talent is a gift from God. The Bible says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." May God continue to bless you and I look forward to your next visit. Eugene W. Grant - Mayor- 3/1/17
The energy you put into the performance and the emotional rollercoaster of Harriet Tubman’s life that you evoked was truly incredible.  Likewise, your ability to talk to and connect with the children in the audience when they asked questions was priceless. I also heard many positive comments about the exhibit--from those who were learning about the many different people and events for the first time -- to those who were refreshing their memories. Again, I thank you for touching so many people with a your important story about an extraordinary woman. A.L. - 5/9/2017
I am very interested in everything about you. My husband and I have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. When you portrayed Harriet at 5 years old being scared and beaten, I lost it. Our granddaughter is 5 years old ... You and your show has had an everlasting affect on me. MBS - 4/19/17
I loved the Q&A, this will give us a chance for some much needed dialogue. - EL - 11/21/16

I first came across the play the Chosen One, by accident while looking for a different Black History activity. However, after seeing the performance, I have contracted to have the play performed several times and have recommended it to others. The Chosen One is more than entertainment, its living history. The way in which Ms. Briley-Strand takes on multiple characters in such a believable manner is rare for most single-performer shows. Each character is show all by itself.
I have been a part of bringing the play to both Nebraska and Des Moines, and the audiences reactions were the same. Audiences young and old are captivated by way in which Ms.Briley-Strand tells the life of Harriet Tubman in the context of the time period. Her attention to detail transforms the audiences back to the period. Each time I have seen the play, I come away with a greater understading of Harriet Tubman's life and hardships. Its as if I was there.
The only thing that comes close to Ms. Briley-Strand's acting, is her singing. The signing is superb and can be a show of its own. Its been over 10 years since I first saw the Chosen One, and I have seen it nearly a dozen times since then and I still look for opportunities to bring it back each year.      
LaVon SW Omaha NE 10/2012

"I have known and worked professionally with Gwendolyn Briley-Strand for some time, but had never experienced her show, "Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One," which we used to our advantage to re-pilot The Essential Theatre's children's program in DC Public Schools during spring 2012 along with the accompanying exhibit Portals Through Time. We are still collecting glowing commendations from the participating schools and parent groups regarding teacher, student and parental responses. I highly recommend the presentations at every level, because as noted author and historian David McCullough mentioned during an interview on CBS's 60 minutes; "we're raising a generation of youth who are historically illiterate." "Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One," along with the accompanying exhibit does an enormous amount to address this lack of history specific information pivotal in America's history. The performance addresses various learning styles through show and tell highlighted by an excellent study guide to inspire classroom discussion and spark interdisciplinary education. By not experiencing this well executed and wonderful performance and its exhibit is to do yourself, your students and community a disservice."
S. Robert M Washington DC 10/2012
Dear Ms Briley-Strand;
Last night was an experience.  I got to see Harriet Tubman come alive.  When someone with special gifts and a commitment to hard work and excellence puts it all together and the spark is resent something special happens.  Last night was one of those times -- Thanks!!!   Martin D. 2/23/2011
Dear Mrs. Briley-Strand,
I was privileged and honored to be in your presence during your performance in Williamsburg, Va. (this afternoon 7/10) I was speechless, very emotional, proud and more grateful to God to be alive. I don't believe I will ever be or think the same about life and freedom again. Most of all, your inspiring comments after the show will probably ring in my ears forever. Thank you for that. Please continue to use the gifts and talents that God has given you (they are priceless) Your performance was so inspiring that I had to write to let you know that YOU are very much appreciated. You have so inspired me to reevaluate and examine my life and all of its challenges in a different light. Thank you again.
I am most assured that I will continue to keep abreast of your performances and make a conscience effort to attend and bring others when possible. May God continue to bless you and your husband. May HE also prosper you, keep you in perfect peace, health, lots of joy and most of all under his protection and in HIS love. In Jesus Name.
A Grateful patron. 
D.E.H Williamsburg, VA 7/2004
I just wanted to let you know once again how much I enjoyed that performance of Harriet Tubman at Clinton Christian School today.   I have heard many good reports from teachers, parents, and students.   Listening to you speak, I just wanted you to know that although you never expressed believing in Christ yourself, your light shone through.   One comment I made to my principal was "I wonder if she was a Christian based on things she said."   After I read your information on seethefruits.com, I had my answer.        Miss Hillman - Clinton Christian School - 2/2003
 Mrs. Briley-Strand, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to write this e-mail to tell you how much I enjoyed your performance of Harriet Tubman at Millbrook High School on October 29.  The audience was mesmerized by your compelling portrayal of Harriet Tubman.  I know the students who were able to attend will never forget the reality of the struggles which Harriet faced in order to obtain her freedom as well as the freedom of many other slaves. I was so pleased to hear you say that Harriet had a personal relationship with Jesus to give her strength and courage to accomplish all she was able to do. Keep up the GREAT work. Teacher, Millbrook HS 10/2003
Dear Ms. Briley-Strand, I really enjoyed your performance last week at Smithfield Middle School. I saw your second performance and I don't think that any other school gathering has ever caught my attention as much as yours.  Please come visit us again soon. 
Smithfield Middle Student 2/7/2002
Dear Ms. Strand,
Thank you for bringing your gift to Potomac Community Library on February 23, 2002 for Black History Month. Patrons and staff really enjoyed your Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One performance. I sat in the back and watched the reactions of the children and parents. We were all moved and riveted by both your acting and singing abilities. You drew the biggest audience that we've had for a Storytelling program all year--Last year, too. It was the best use of our programming dollar in a while. Also, I was happy to see the children checking out books about Harriet Tubman after your performance. We hope to have you visit again someday.
Youth Services Supervisor, Prince William Public Library System, Prince William, VA 22192 
Dear Ms. Strand,
Thank you for bringing your gift to Potomac Community Library on February 23, 2002 for Black History Month. Patrons and staff really enjoyed your Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One performance. I sat in the back and watched the reactions of the children and parents. We were all moved and riveted by both your acting and singing abilities. You drew the biggest audience that we've had for a Storytelling program all year--Last year, too. It was the best use of our programming dollar in a while. Also, I was happy to see the children checking out books about Harriet Tubman after your performance. We hope to have you visit again someday.
Youth Services Supervisor, Prince William Public Library System, Prince William, VA 22192
Hello, I just would like to inform you, that your performance at Meade Middle School, was spectacular. You have a wonderful voice, and you made me cry with the way you played Harriet Tubman.  A fan 3/13/02
Excellent performance, marvelous performer. Most awesome Multicultural program. 
Middle School Administrator, Glen Burnie, MD 2/15/2000
My husband and I really enjoyed your performance of Harriet Tubman on Sunday. The play was thought provoking and also helped the younger generation gain a better appreciation for the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery....Bravo!!! God Bless You. 
Dr. W.H. Fort Washington MD 2/15/2000
I wanted to say thank you for your inspirational performance. My child becomes bored with school very easily. You got the wheels in her brain turning again. It has been a long time since I've seen her this excited about any educational activity. Parent Springfield IL 3/27/2000
Hi My name is Allye. I am a 5th grade student. I am pretty sure that you came to my school and performed "The Chosen One" today. I just want to tell you that the play was great and I think it is really neat and cool how you can change characters. You are very talented!  Allye 5th Grade Student, Jessup MD 3/1/2000
Dear Ms. Briley-Strand,
Your performance yesterday at Pine Grove Junior High School will always stay with me. I have always admired Harriett Tubman and you made her come alive for me. I felt her pain and anguish, as she endured the torments of being a slave. I was in tears yesterday and again right now, as I think of your portrayal of young Harriet at five years of age. As deep a moment as that was, it made her joy of feeling freedom that much sharper! It was truly my pleasure to meet with you personally! I guess I am writing to be sure you know what an impact your acting has on your audience. What a gift you have and what a wonderful way of sharing your expertise!
Debra C. Library Media Specialist, Pine Grove Junior High, East Syracuse, NY 6/2/2000
Thank you so much. Your extraordinary ability to create character, your glorious voice, and your passion are gifts I felt honored to receive. Teacher St. Anne's Belfield School, Charlottesville, VA 2/1/1999
Dear Ms. Briley-Strand, I loved your performance it is so cool how you can be so many different characters in one play. Your acting is excellent, it really made me feel like I was a runaway slave. Sincerely Katie Q, 6th grade student, Norfolk VA 2/26/1999
One of the best assemblies we have ever experienced. The performance was excellent and was made more meaningful by the post-performance discussion. PTO Assembly Coordinator, Kennett Square PA. 3/4/1999
You recently performed for us at Providence Elementary School. Thank you for sharing your gift. Teacher Providence Elementary, VA Beach 3/7/1999
WOWOWOWOWOWOWOW I heard you were good but you blew us all away. I felt like I was waiting to escape on the Underground Railroad. The audience were sitting at the edge of their seats - spellbound.    Advisors Program for Women N.Y.S. Dept of Transportation 11/26/1999
Thanks for coming to Peterboro and bringing Harriet alive again. People said how much they enjoyed the play. 
Linda J. Peterboro N.Y. 6/26/1998
Ms. Briley-Strand does a fantastic job and she is a nice person! The presentation challenged the class to write a biography and poems. She makes each child's question seem so important.  Teacher, Reidenbaugh Middle School, Lititz PA.
Phenomenal performance, Gwendolyn IS Harriet Tubman... she gets into the soul of Harriet and brings us with her. Riveting enactment of Tubman's suffering and transformation of that suffering by turning adversity and abuse into gritty psychological, spiritual and physical strength..... It was one of those "THIS is what it's all about" experiences to have and to share with those we love... our kids, our families, our students... One person that saw both performances told me that it was" a life-changing experience.... that she would Never think about the injustice and inhumanity of our history the same way again."... and that it has given her more incentive to work for social justice.... "coming down into the aisles and amongst the audience to answer questions was fabulous!" "particularly liked the Q and A ... she was so knowledgeable about Harriet Tubman and gave so much more than just the on stage performance..... she was so generous with her time... to talk with us , be with us after the performance"...."the educational display of (Tubman's life) was a wonderful addition... don't miss that part". Again, for me, it was the compelling notion that we can learn something from our personal suffering/trauma and not only heal ourselves but use what we have learned to help others that is the powerful message.  Ann B. Yarmouth Port, MA