Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jessa Piaia: Somerville character actor portrays “America’s First Lady of Letters.”

Jessa Piaia: Somerville character actor portrays “America’s First Lady of Letters.”

Jessa Piaia is a Somerville resident who enjoys being in someone else’s shoes, not to mention their dress, bonnet, the full gamut of period garb. Piaia had made a career of portraying famous and not so famous trail-blazing women. Paia , a resident of the Union Square section of the city, has inhabited the skin of such historically significant women as: Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, and Rachel Revere, to name a few. She performs around the state and the country, and has appeared in such Somerville venues as: The Somerville Museum, , the West Branch Library, in Davis Square, as well as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. On Saturday Aug 11, 2 PM, at the Longfellow House ( 105 Brattle St., Cambridge) Piaia will portray Susanna Haswell Rowson. Rowson founded “The Academy of Young Ladies in downtown Boston in 1797 ( a Liberal Arts academy for Women,) wrote many novels, plays and penned the official eulogy for George Washington in 1800.

Piaia said that wearing the period clothing of her subject literally transforms her, putting her in the “skin” of her characters. Piaia, who recently moved to the area with her partner and founder of Cambridge’s “Squawk Coffeehouse” Lee Kidd, said of Union Square: “ I love the Sherman Café, Ricky’s Flowers, and all the great restaurants in the square. It is a great place to be an artist.”

After her performance at the Longfellow House, Piaia will be selling a book by Rowson: “Slaves in Algiers,” a play in three acts, still very much in print after all these years.

Piaia has a busy schedule ahead of her. She will be showcasing her talents at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Webster Estate in Marshfield, and the Helen Sleeper estate in Gloucester, to name a few. To keep tabs on Piaia visit her website at:

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