Prolific Icons

Karen Williamson and Fred Motley meet to work on PROLIFIC ICONS script.

Fred Motley, Creative Director of the acting troupe Caswell History Speaks and a master storyteller says, “If we don’t capture, preserve and tell these stories, they will be lost forever.” Therefore, the troupe’s mission is to bring to “life” the stories of notable people from Caswell County and surrounding areas. We will capture and preserve these rich stories to the best of our ability so that they can be told and re-told with pride for generations to come.

In the summer of 2019, Caswell History Speaks began its storytelling journey by hosting a few Mix and Mingle events to promote its two performances at the Historic Courthouse in Yanceyville. Those well received musical enactments led the troupe to be invited to do six performances in 2020; four in Caswell County and two in Danville. And then…the outbreak of the coronavirus changed everything. Because of the restrictions of large gatherings, all of the live performances were cancelled and were pivoted from a stage musical to a documentary film format. This past July, Fred along with Karen Williamson, Producer of Caswell History Speaks, began the process of adapting the script that was written for the stage to accommodate the small screen. From mid-July through mid-December, writing, storyboarding, editing and teleconferences took place during the week with principal filming taking place on Saturdays; definitely a time commitment but a labor of love for the craft of storytelling.

PROLIFIC ICONS, the title of the documentary, was generously supported by the Board of Directors from the Thomas Day House in Milton as well as grants from Virginia Humanities/History United and Caswell Council for the Arts. This documentary focuses on a snippet of time in the lives of the following Caswell County natives: Thomas Day (furniture maker), Henrietta Jeffries (Midwife), Maud Gatewood (Artist), Nicholas L. Dillard (Educator), and Neal Watlington (Pro Baseball Player and Businessman). Danville natives Camilla Williams (Opera Singer) and Sherman Saunders (Politician and Civil Rights Activist) were selected to round out the stories chosen to tell.

The premiere of PROLIFIC ICONS is scheduled for Friday, March 12 at 7:00 pm on the Caswell History Speaks YouTube channel and is free to watch. Don’t worry if you miss the premiere showing. The film will be available to watch at your convenience thereafter. So, please join Fred the Master Storyteller and Karen the Producer in making this film a local success. Your support will allow us to continue our mission. We know that there are more iconic stories out there in the Caswell area to uncover; to be preserved, told and re-told. Caswell History Speaks wants to be a part of that process and welcomes the opportunity to make all of that happen. If you know of an iconic figure from Caswell or the surrounding area whose life story meets these criteria, contact us via email at