Northern Nevadans had a unique opportunity to get a taste of Malissa’s work in celebration of Presidents’ Day when he portrayed Washington in “Fractured Union: A Conversation with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton & Thomas Jefferson,” on Friday at Cold Springs Elementary School and at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center’s Redfield Auditorium.
The free presentation was a discussion moderated by Scott Casper, dean of the University’s College of Liberal Arts and George Washington historian. Casper led the “former presidents” in a discussion of topics that continue to shape and divide our nation today, such as the economy, the national debt, the use of military force, state versus federal rights and education.
The program was presented through the Nevada George Washington Teaching Ambassador Program and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens, with funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and Nevada Humanities.
“We were one of a few fortunate states to be awarded the benefits of this ambassador program that brings educational programs for teachers, students and the general public on Washington and Mount Vernon to our state for two years,” Casper said.
Casper has been involved with Mount Vernon’s educational programs for several years, since being recruited to teach at week-long residential summer programs at the estate where K-12 teachers learn more about Mount Vernon and Washington’s life to share with their students. While at the estate, Casper’s immersion in its history inspired him to research and write “Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine,” a book that earned impressive reviews for its engaging story of the life of a former slave at Mount Vernon.
Joining Casper and Malissa were Ian Rose, portraying Alexander Hamilton, and Bill Barker, portraying Thomas Jefferson. Rose has been portraying Hamilton at locations across the country for 11 years, including at Hamilton’s home, the National Archives, various National Parks and other national landmarks and museums. He has argued Constitutional cases before “The People’s Court” Judge Marilyn Millian, as well as in presentations for the U.S. State Department.
Barker has traveled the world performing as the third president, portraying him at Colonial Williamsburg for more than 20 years, and has also been in several documentaries.
“These half-day programs for teachers are designed specifically to enrich their classroom discussions of how the ideals and policies of a new nation continue to guide our national policies and debates today,” Casper said.