Hayes Center to host free one-woman play on Gertrude Bell

The Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning at Hodges University will present a free play portraying the life and times of Gertrude Bell, known as the female Lawrence of Arabia. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, June 29 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm at the Hodges University Science and Technology building, 2655 Northbrooke Drive, just off I-75, in Naples.
An English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist, Gertrude Bell explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. A privileged British woman who fell in love with the Middle East, she became the most respected foreign woman in that region during the first half of the 20th century. She was also responsible for drawing up the boundaries for what became modern day Iraq.  This little-known story of the “female Lawrence of Arabia,” a woman far ahead of her time, will be portrayed in a fully costumed, one-woman play, entitled “Ghosts of the Desert.”  The play serves as a lesson in history and personal beliefs, wrapped in an entertaining package of humor, disappointment and devotion to one’s dreams.

Portraying Gertrude Bell will be local actress and author Janina Birtolo. Born and raised in New Jersey, Birtolo earned a BA in English at Boston College and an MS in television broadcasting at Boston University.  Now a full-time Naples resident, her writings have been published in The Phil, Gulfshore Life, Times of the Islands and Naples Illustrated.  In 2001 she was chosen "Writer of the Year" by the Florida Magazine Association.  She also regularly appears with The Naples Players, Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers and other area troupes.

The play is free of charge and open to the public, but pre-registrations are requested. For more information, please contact Christine Wheeler at (239) 598-6210.

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