The Reviews are in on “A New Hope”!



I‟ve just seen a play that is fantastic! It was created by Shelley Hamilton (of Africville). It‟s entitled “A New Hope”. It‟s a one woman play based on the historical accounts of John Clarkson‟s mission to improve the conditions of the Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. An extremely moving experience. It ties together the connection between N.S & Sierra Leone. It also ties together the roots…Be sure not to miss this performance….. you must must must go see it. It touched my heart, and I‟m sure it will do the same for you”…

Captain Bill Pinkney – Master Emeritus of the Freedom Ship Amistad

Dear John: It was a delight to see the original production of „Freedom‟ …remounted into „A New Hope‟. Having seen the original production in1984, I have told my BEd and Theatre students over the years of this powerful example of educational theatre and showed them clips from the video. But nothing can be a strong as a live performance and the production was powerful and moving. As a „born into privilege‟ white man, the show brought me to a deeper understanding of the present and the work that must be done, that we must do. I hope to see that this work continues… If nothing else I would like to arrange for Shelley to perform at StFX but I would encourage both a school tour and as a live exhibit of Museum Theatre. Sincerely, Joe Norris (Ph.D.)

Professor, St. FX University

Hi Shelley,
I was one of the lucky people who were able to watch your magnificent performance in “A New Hope”. You did such an amazing job of not only portraying some of the events that occurred in Nova Scotia in the 1790’s, but educating your audience in such a way that cannot be absorbed through reading a book. The way you were able to use the character of a teacher to capture your audience’s attention was brilliant, as well as your ability to go back in time and portray the Black people that settled in Nova Scotia prior to the voyage to Sierra Leone.
I cannot think of a better way to convey this history to people, especially children. I think it would be a wonderful, in fact a necessary idea to teach this not only Black history, but Canadian history to all Canadians, perhaps starting in junior high school. It boggles my mind that as Canadians, this is not in every history book we read coming up through junior high and high school. It is such an important part of our past.
Since seeing the play myself, I have repeated what I have learned to at least ten people already. “A New Hope” is most definitely a must see and I truly hope it reaches millions of people. Thank you again for a wonderful experience.

Jennifer Power
Teacher – Halifax Dartmouth

My name is Barbara Kaufmann and my 12 year old daughter, Wendy and I had the privilege of seeing “A NEW HOPE” in Shelburne, NS in Aug. I would like to tell you that this performance was AMAZING! I wanted the production to go on as I was totally entranced. Shelley Hamilton is tremendous in this production. Her characters came to life, the way that she talked to her “students” made me smile, because the teacher character was the type of teacher that I hope I am. I teach U.S. history in Keene, New Hampshire and I never knew the horrible conditions that blacks faced in Canada. I was always taught about slaves from the U.S. that made it to Canada, but we never learned anything more. I NEVER learned about the Loyalist or the Black Loyalists. As a teacher and a mother I believe that ALL students in Middle and High School should see this production. It is captivating and very informative. Thank-you for bringing your production to Shelburne, it is something that I shall not forget and I WILL incorporate more Loyalist, both Black and White, into my teaching.

Barbara R. Kaufmann

The play by Ms. Shelley Hamilton “A NEW HOPE” gives a new hope in the essence of power to overcome against all adversity. The tremendous strength of our ancestors stood the test of time and this sensational dramatic rendition captures this sweet truth wonderfully. BRAVO ….ENCORE !!!

Dr. Henry Bishop Chief Curator Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

Hello Shelley
I experienced your performance of “A New Hope” at the Osprey Theater in Shelburne on August 3rd. I was very much looking forward to your play because I knew very little about the history of the Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. Prior to the performance, I was expecting to hear several musical pieces with and a brief history of the Loyalist struggle. I truth…I was amazed and deeply “moved” by my experience. I enjoyed your remarks about “translating the emotions of the history” Your portrayal of Lydia was amazing and I could feel her pain and emotion as if we had traveled back in time. You are so right about being able to experience the emotions of those who suffered. Without doing that…we simply dismiss and forget. I believe you have created a very powerful snapshot of an important piece of Nova Scotia history…and should be very proud of your accomplishment. As a visitor to Atlantic Canada (I am a U.S. citizen) I am very grateful to have been graced and educated by this performance, and believe future visitors would also enjoy it in the same fashion. Thanks Shelley…so wonderful to be in that theatre with you…we are indeed connected. All the best

Robert Foster
Operations Manager – Skystream Residential Power

Dear Shelley,
Congrats on your new play about Lydia Jackson. We are only as strong as our knowledge of our history…great song “Connected”…

Maritime Singer/songwriter Faith Nolan

I thoroughly enjoyed the play “A New Hope”. I was totally blown away by your performance as it was filled with so much passion and at some points I thought I was actually there enduring the hardships and the pain that was suffered. The story line was excellent and the contrast of going back and forth between the two time periods was very effective. I would love to have you come to our schools in Weymouth to present your play or just to speak…I also love your CD from the show and have played it several times. Thanks again …we all enjoyed it very very much.

Take care,

June Maxwell – Teacher (gr.11 & 12)

Hi Shelley:
I saw you at the Black Cultural Centre (NS) and found your play to be an incredibly moving experience. … The struggle for freedom occurs over and over again. It is important that we acknowledge the inhumanity of past history and strive to eliminate racism in our own country and around the world today. You are doing much to help us feel and understand the pain and sorrow that was felt by Blacks who stayed in North America and those who traveled to Sierra Leone.
I hope we meet again!

Susan Tooke
Illustrator for Children‟s Book – “Up Home”

I’ve had all sorts of positive feed-back about you & your work and I feel that there are good things to come. Congratulations on a job well done!

John Hennigar-Shuh Manager, Development & Partnerships Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Hi Shelley I saw the play in the Africville tent on Saturday and girl you were fantastic! Well done!!
I also enjoyed your performance last Thursday with Joe Sealy. I look forward to connecting with you back in Toronto and finding ways that the OFL can showcase your performance.

Terry Downey
Executive Vice-President
Ontario Federation of Labour

This one woman performance speaks the truth, with such volume and emotion. A must see for every human being. It is brilliant.

Linda Harris-Rioux

Deputy Sheriff

Dear Shelley

I saw your one woman play in Shelburne, Nova Scotia this summer with several friends and I was truly moved. It was the most powerful play I have ever had the privilege to enjoy. You moved me to tears on more than one occasion, as I felt the hardships and heartbreaks of your characters. The songs you sang were beautiful, and certainly added to the play.
I would love to see “A New Hope” performed in schools to educate both students and staff about the black loyalists. If we are privileged to have the play back in Nova Scotia, my friends and I would gladly travel to see “A New Hope” again, and again.
Thank You!

Brenda Bancroft

Kudos, kudos and more kudos for your remarkable, phenomenal performance… It was extraordinary and should be seen by the world! My sister, Natasha, and I know, in general terms, the history of Blacks in NS but the details were missing. The exposure of what was expected and what was received, the manipulation into being indentured (re-enslaved really),the abuse and violence you brought to life,… you were telling your story from the depths of your soul… an amazing performance with stunning singing. We liked “Connected”, especially with the title of the play and now, Obama’s motto of Change and Hope…. We recognize that the history continues in many NS communities. The struggle is not over anywhere.

Marguerite Alfred – Real Estate agent

I thought your show was really moving and wonderful. It brought the history alive, the different voices and experiences, and honoured the history very well. Thank you!

Erica Simmons – Toronto

A truly inspiring and magnetic performance by a very versatile actor imparting a message of struggle, hope in the search of a home.

Yola Grant –

Grant & Bernhardt, Barristers & Solicitors

Dear Shelley:
Thank you for the enchantingly, powerful performance you gave on December 16, 2008 in your “One Woman Show – A New Hope”, when you gave us what I would say was “a peek” into the life of the Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia.
We could say, “we have a come a long way”, and others would not understand, unless they see “the way it was” in dramatic performances such as the one I saw… Thank You!

Delrine Jones

Pension Advisor & Consultant

… “A New Hope” will open young eyes to the hidden truths in our Canadian history, but it is just the beginning of something much bigger… your hard work, big love, and personal dedication are an unbeatable combination…congratulations!

Janet MacEwen

Broadway & Stage actress – Beauty and the Beast/ Anne of Green Gables/ Mary Poppins

The play was absolutely Fantastic! I feel that more things like this need be done, especially in our community, to help raise the awareness and education of where we all originate from for generations to come. It is short enough that younger audience could benefit from seeing. The play was presented in such a fashion that it is impossible not to want more. It was very captivating and emotion evoking for many people there. This story is one that should be shared across the globe!! Not only Nova Scotia. It was an amazing experience for me and my family!

Matt Brooks

Marketing Associate, SYSCO Food services Canada

There are so many adjectives I could use and still that would not be good enough to stay what an experience you gave us last evening.
The touching heartfelt plight of the Black Loyalists that you brought to light, illuminated all of us. It is a Tour De Force.
I truly feel you should be seen on TVO, CBC, WTN for Black History Month, because your show is one of the kaleidoscopes of our nation that needs to be told and not to be forgotten.
Thank you… for opening my eyes to what prevailed and the anguish these many people endured to survive in the history of this great nation..

Alan Reid

Vocal Instructor/Singer

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Shelley Hamilton