“Thank God that woman is here – she is like an angel on the battlefield.” If that sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably heard of Clara Barton somewhere along the line. If you haven’t, just know that her actions have saved thousands of lives through her organization, the American Red Cross. And while she’s been gone for 100 years now, the results of her compassion live on.
Worcester State University’s History and Political Science Department, in commemoration of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, sponsored a dramatic reenactment of Clara Barton’s life on October 10. The multi-talented Pat Jordan, an accomplished actress with a penchant for history, provided the performance. For a one-person show, it was quite riveting.
“I was not a shy adult, as it turned out – I was fearless,” she told the audience.
And fearless Jordan’s act was. Blending raw emotion with all-too-real bravado and a touch of melancholy, Jordan’s Barton ran the entire spectrum of expression and tone. Employing all manner of dramatic pauses, shifts in volume, and vivid imagery, she left no stone unturned in terms of historical accuracy. Her attention to detail was apparent in her possessions – an original Red Cross flag and a framed black-and-white photo of a love interest, to name a few. This authenticity was backed up by Jordan’s references to the Civil War-era zeitgeist and her period-specific clothing.
The performance was very easy to follow. In an impressive display of recollection, Jordan presented the life of the American Red Cross founder in descriptive, chronological order. But that’s not to say the show was linear – just the opposite, in fact. Through the eyes of Clara Barton, Jordan wrestled with the obstacles placed in front of her. And repeatedly, Jordan tackled Barton’s unique ability to think ahead of her time. From education to feminism to world politics, the audience experiences these issues vicariously in roller-coaster fashion. In other words, Barton’s ups and downs are a thrilling ride.
There really was something in the play for everyone – Civil War buffs would love Jordan’s research; theater students, her performance; and professors, her eagerness to inform. It’s a pretty remarkable slice of Massachusetts history, to say the least.
“Join me. Become a Red Cross volunteer,” she said to close her performance.
Even though Worcester State finished a blood drive in late September, Jordan’s words – and Barton’s wishes – still carry on.
Written by Abtin Pazooki ’13, a Communication major and intern with the Public Relations and Marketing Office during the fall 2012 semester
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