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The Birches Assisted Living

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Cleopatra Comes to the Birches Assisted Living

On April 15, the Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. received a visit from one of the most powerful and widely known women in history—Cleopatra.

Clarendon Hills, IL, April 22, 2016 --( On April 15, the Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. received a visit from one of the most powerful and widely known women in history—Cleopatra.

Professional historical reenactor Martina Mathisen brought Cleopatra to life through an interactive historical performance in which she taught Birches residents that Cleopatra wasn’t quite like she was portrayed in the movies.

“A lot of people expect to experience something like Elizabeth Taylor, but Cleopatra was nothing like that,” said Mathisen. “Even Hollywood couldn’t afford to show how she really lived.”

Mathisen says exposing the most interesting and surprising facts about Cleopatra is the best part about her job.

“She was quite a brilliant woman. She was involved in every part of government. She was the wealthiest woman in the world at the time, and she spoke nine languages— six of them fluently,” said Mathisen.

She also lived a very decadent lifestyle, according to Mathisen, and was involved with some of history’s most famous and powerful men, like Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

“She, and everyone else, believed she ruled Egypt by divine right. So every person, every grain of wheat, every animal belonged to her. Revenue flowed into her palace hourly, and she lived in absolute luxury in every way, shape and form,” said Mathisen.

Mathisen began her performance by setting up a screen and a projector before the audience arrived. Once everyone was seated, she used the equipment to create the effect of a time machine and appeared before them as Cleopatra herself.

“I love talking about history as someone from history. It’s a really cool, fun way to learn about history, and it keeps the audience engaged,” said Mathisen.

Mathisen delivers her presentations at schools, libraries, women’s groups and senior living communities throughout the country, performing as historical figures like Marie Antoinette, Sacagawea, Louella Parsons and—of course—the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra.

Mathisen says she loves all of her audiences, but that the audiences at senior living communities bring a special and unique energy to her shows.

“In senior communities, there are people who are educated, who are traveled, who are well-read,” said Mathisen. “They find history interesting, which makes them a very engaging audience.”

In the past, The Birches has also had Mathisen perform as Marie Antoinette, and her performances are always a favorite among the residents, says Birches Activities Director Katie Klitchman.

“We have a lot of history buffs here at The Birches, and bringing in someone like Martina is so exciting for them,” said Klitchman. “Even residents and associates who weren’t that interested in history previously have learned to love it because of Martina’s performances. They’re just so fascinating.”

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills offers professional services to support the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of the older adults who make it their home. The Birches offers purposeful programming and activities designed to promote a healthy aging lifestyle and a strong sense of community. For more information about The Birches, call 630-789-1135 or visit:
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The Birches Assisted Living
Jenny Smiechowski

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