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Associate Professor of History Dr. Shannon Harris will serve as an expert for Barter
Theatre’s special series, the Barter Insider 360° panel, for the play “Looking Over
the President’s Shoulder.”
The panels will begin at 7:45 p.m., 30 minutes before the show and there will be an
additional panel for 30 minutes after the show, on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May
19 (sold out). Also attending the 360° panel will be the playwright for “Looking
Over the President’s Shoulder,” James Still. 360° panel discussions add insight and
enrich the experience of the play.
“I am delighted to be part of the 360° panel at the esteemed Barter Theatre and am
honored to represent King College,” said Dr. Harris.
“Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” written by James Still, is based upon a book
by Alonzo Fields, “My 21 Years in the White House.” Fields, the grandson of freed
slaves, served as a butler, and then head butler, at the White House for 21 years.
He began his career towards the end of President Hoover’s administration in 1931 and
left at the beginning of Eisenhower’s presidency. He served under four American Presidents
(and their wives): Hoover, FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower.
“Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” is a one-man play and chronicles Mr. Fields’
experiences in the White House from his point of view. Fields’ position brought him
into contact with powerful personalities such as Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison,
Errol Flynn, and Princess Elizabeth of England.
As chief butler in the White House, Fields was required to be silent, to stare straight
ahead, not to smile or acknowledge in any way the conversations taking place around
him – even if they were about Supreme Court justices who used to be members of the
Ku Klux Klan.
The play gives us all a unique view into the inner workings of the White House, and
a glimpse into the family lives of the presidents during pivotal years in American
During the 360° panel, Dr. Harris will sketch out what it was like in Depression America,
outline unexpected surprises about history the play might hold, and will answer questions
from the audience and the moderator about the history of the period.
Dr. Harris received her undergraduate degree in History from East Tennessee State
University and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in African History from Michigan State
University. Dr. Harris has been teaching various aspects of American history at King
College for nine years.
For additional information on the Barter Theatre and the play “Looking Over the President’s
Shoulder,” visit www.bartertheatre.com.