Couple play important parts in ‘Liberty!’
Published 10:34 am Saturday, July 4, 2015
They are time travelers.
Husband and wife Scott Pruitt and Donna Horowitz’s interests in history and re-enactment have taken them through many different eras of American history, and next week the two will play two crucial roles, one on stage and one off, in the “Liberty!” drama at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
During the drama, which begins Thursday, Pruitt will play the part of Judge Richard Henderson. To get ready for his part, Pruitt has studied Henderson and his role in U.S. History.
“I used to drive through Henderson County all of the time,” Pruitt said. “I would always think, ‘Who is Henderson?’ Well, now I know.”
Henderson, in 1775, played a crucial role in facilitating the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals or the Transylvania Purchase, through which Henderson acquired a large amount of land.
“He came and bought all of this property all the way up through Kentucky from the Cherokee,” Pruitt said with excitement in his voice. “He couldn’t hold on to the land, but he started it. That is so cool, that these guys had that kind of power, and we wouldn’t be here if they wouldn’t have fought the war.”
Listening to Pruitt talk about history and the characters he plays, it is easy to tell that he loves it. Like Henderson, who fought in the Revolutionary War, Pruitt served in the military for 25 years. Serving in the Marine Corps has helped him find a deeper meaning in playing Henderson, Pruitt said.
“It’s sad that you fight so hard and don’t get to see the final outcome,” Pruitt said. “Some of my friends who were in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t see the outcomes of the Iraqis and their jubilance of being free, because they were killed.”
Pruitt’s love of history stems from his father’s love of history. Growing up in the sixties, Pruitt remembers going on two week vacations, during which he and his family would visit Civil War historical sites.
“He loved to teach that history was written down in the books, but there was always more to know about it,” Pruitt said about his father. “He always taught us to dig deeper.”
It was while working at Disney for three years, that Pruitt got into the idea of dressing up as the characters.
“I got to wear costumes and play,” Pruitt said. “It was a lot of fun.”
When it comes to re-enactments, Pruitt started doing Civil War reenactments in 1990, where he started as a drummer, before working his way up to being a regimental surgeon, and then he went on to be a general staff surgeon. Playing a surgeon in reenactments parallels with Pruitt’s actual real-life profession. Pruitt is a surgeon technician at the Holston Valley Medical Center, and his medical training is a much needed thing on the battle field during reenactments, due to the real injuries that many of the actors suffer while playing their parts.
“They really do need medical people out there,” Pruitt said. “People have died from heart attacks, heat, and some people have actually been shot. So it is important to have people who are medically trained out there.”
Horowitz, who has been a professional seamstress for 30 years, is the costumer for the Liberty drama, and according to her it takes a lot of time and knowledge of history to be able to accurately portray how the character would have dressed at different times in history.
“The whole idea of doing things accurately is very important to me,” Horowitz said. “For me, the love of history has a lot to do with the love of fiber. Any sewer is going to understand that.”
This will be Horowitz second year working on the production of Liberty, and year round, she spends a lot of her time repairing and prepping the roughly 1,000 pieces of costuming that it takes to run the show. When the show comes around, she makes sure everyone has clothing that fits properly and fits the time period correctly. That entails making sure the buttons are correct, the types of materials are accurate, and how the characters wear the clothes are right.
And if anyone is in doubt of how much Pruitt and Horowitz love their history, just consider the fact that the two had a Civil War wedding, during which both Pruitt and Horowitz wore period-accurate clothing during the ceremony.
With the drama just around the corner, the two are thrilled to see the outcome.
“We are very excited to see it all come together,” Pruitt and Horowitz said.