Like many little girls, Sheryl Faye dreamed of being an actress when she grew up. For much of her youth in the town of Cape Cod, Sheryl would write, direct and star in plays she would put on for her family and neighbors. Every summer she’d transform her house into a theater, selling tickets from the bathroom box office and performing on the front porch like it was a Broadway stage.
Her mother’s encouragement and support throughout the years led her to pursue acting at Emerson College, where she graduated with a BFA. When Sheryl was young, her mother’s influence also helped to spark in her a passion for history. Her love of acting and history led her to work at a Chicago-based theater company where she brought the stories of women in the past to life for children within various schools. When the theater company retired, Sheryl started her own business. She hoped to continue sharing the inspirational stories of such women and giving a voice to the female narrative of history. Though history resides in the past, she believes the women she portrays and their stories are still relevant today and that by embodying them for children and adults alike, she can help encourage others to find value in their own stories.
Sheryl has been a one-woman show for 18 years now, performing at schools, libraries, historical societies, Girl Scout troops, senior centers and various other organizations. She particularly loves performing for children because they make the most honest and genuine audience, full of questions and curiosity. Performing for children also allows her to have honest and real conversations with them about hard topics, both in and out of costume. She shared a story with me from one of her Anne Frank performances saying, “A 7th grader shared with me feelings of discrimination that he was encountering at school. He gave me a big hug and thanked me for my show and said [that] it made him feel like he was not alone. It just made my day and stuck in my heart forever.”
Sheryl’s shows are now also available virtually at her website, https://sherylfaye.com. Having started with only a handful of historical women, her repertoire has grown to include Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Susan B Anthony, Clara Barton, Abigail Adams, Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sally Ride, as well as her most recent addition to the line-up, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When asked why she chose these specific women to portray, Sheryl said, “They all inspire me and have overcome their own obstacles. I think it is so important to encourage young children, especially girls. Many of my ladies lived in a time when girls couldn’t do certain things, they had no rights, no voice.”
In order to make sure her portrayals are authentic, Sheryl starts by doing research into the women she chooses to re-enact and the time period they lived. Such research involves reading books, periodicals and other media sources, as well as watching videos and visiting their hometowns or other places integral to their life’s story. Sheryl says this tangible connection to the women is integral to helping her understand them and do their stories justice. She went on to explain that when she runs her shows, she starts them as the women in adulthood. She then brings the audience to the woman’s childhood and ends back in their time as an adult, believing in the importance of showing how each woman’s childhood impacted their later years. Drawing this correlation helps her show the audience that the women in our past are not all that different from us
In bringing the stories of these women to life, Sheryl hopes that these shows will inspire and encourage young audiences who may be going through similar hurdles as the women she portrays. Her desire is to see young girls read more on these women and aspire to be more like them. Regardless of what her audience walks away with, Sheryl considers it a great honor do her part in keeping the memory of “her girls” alive.
Girl Museum Inc.