Scholars will bring historical figures to life under the big red tent in the City Park next week when Ohio Chautauqua returns to Gallipolis. It marks the seventh time Gallipolis has hosted the event.
Presented by Ohio Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ohio Chautauqua 2018: Modern Legends features living history performances of five historic figures from the mid-twentieth century whose lives and work left a larger-than-life imprint on the American psyche. The five-day event features both the evening performances, as well as youth and adult workshops during the day at Bossard Memorial Library. The evening performances begin at 6:30 p.m. with live music, followed by the performances at 7:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, evening performances will be held at the Ariel Opera House.
Ohio Chautauqua kicks off in Gallipolis on Tuesday, June 12 featuring musician Linda Sigismondi, followed by Susan Marie Frontczak portraying Erma Bombeck (February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996). Bombeck captured—with great poignancy and humor—the daily life of a new American phenomenon: the suburban housewife. Believing you had to be able to laugh at life to get through it, she captured the essence of the housewife’s daily struggles in her column “At Wits End” three days a week, eventually appearing in 900 newspapers across the country and in books such as “I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression” and “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.” She brought to American awareness the life of millions of women whose lives otherwise often felt invisible and taken for granted. She let women across America know: You are not alone. In fact, we number in the millions. I, too, am an American housewife, and I will laugh by your side.
Susan Marie Frontczak has given over 700 presentations as Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, Irene Castle, Clara Barton, and Eleanor Roosevelt across 38 of the United States, and abroad in her 18 years as a Living History scholar. Susan Marie also works with both adults and youth to develop their own living history presentations. She authored the Young Chautauqua handbooks for Colorado Humanities and works with students throughout the state. As a teen, Susan Marie competed with her mother to see which of them could snag the monthly Good Housekeeping magazine first, in order to read Erma Bombeck’s column. Now the challenge is to convey Bombeck’s humor along with the person behind the persona.
On Wednesday, June 13, CeeCee Miller kicks of the evening with music followed by Fred Blanco, who brings Cesar Chavez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) to the stage. Chavez was a labor and civil rights activist and reformer who, with Dolores Huerta, founded the United Farm Workers labor union to protect the rights of migrant workers. Chavez brought national attention to his cause by organizing non-violent protests, boycotts, legislative reform efforts, and hunger strikes in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. In 1968 he went on a widely publicized 25-day fast promoting non-violence, which ended with an outdoor Roman Catholic mass. For thirty years Chavez tenaciously devoted himself to the problems of some of the poorest workers in America. The movement he inspired succeeded in raising salaries and improving working conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
Fred Blanco has appeared on stage and screen for 20 years, performing with the national touring troupe, Traveling Lantern, and the street theatre company, The Bad Puppets. Featured on radio and television, his solo production, “The Stories of Cesar Chavez” has reached theatre audiences for the last 12 years. In that time, he has worked with the LAUSD and L.A. County Office of Education to bring theatre into the classroom. He has brought the show to the famed Chicano theatre, Su Teatro in Denver, CO, and The National Hispanic Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, NM, just to name a few.
Blanco has toured theatre festivals internationally bringing home BEST OF FRINGE from Canada and San Francisco as well as the prestigious BRICKENDEN Award for Best Touring performance in London, Ontario. In addition to his theatrical show, “The Stories of Cesar Chavez,” he speaks as Chavez for the Chautauquas around the country.
On Thursday, June 14, join the Ariel Singers, followed by Dr. Sally Ann Drucker as she presents Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 – February 4, 2006), a leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States. Her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. In 1966, Friedan co-founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which aimed to bring women “into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men.” Regarded as an influential author and intellectual in the United States, Friedan remained active in politics and advocacy for the rest of her life, authoring six books.
Since 1993, Dr. Sally Ann Drucker has presented interesting and infamous women at Chautauquas. She first portrayed Frances Wright, feminist-abolitionist, at a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Democracy in America Chautauqua, touring eight states over three summers. She has also portrayed the feminist-anarchist Emma Goldman; Rosie the Riveter, WWII Defense Worker; 16th-century duchess Lucrezia Borgia; and Hazel Shaw, Dust Bowl Survivor. Dr. Drucker is pleased to present Betty Friedan, her most contemporary figure, for Ohio Chautauqua. When not performing, she is a professor in the department of English at State University of New York Nassau, also teaching women’s studies and other interdisciplinary courses there.
Friday, June 15 will feature music by Lawrence Green followed by Dr. J. Holmes Armstead as American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis Jr. (December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002). Davis was the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, he was advanced to four-star general by President Bill Clinton. During World War II, Davis was commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe. Davis flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47, and P-51 Mustang fighters. Davis followed in his father’s footsteps in breaking racial barriers, as Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was the first African American general in the United States Army.
Dr. J. Holmes Armstead is a retired professor of Strategy and International law from the US Naval War College. He has taught international law, strategy and national security policy for nearly 40 years. Professor Armstead has served on faculties at Stanford University, Pepperdine University, the University of California. the University of Nevada, Southern University the US Naval Postgraduate School, Lewis University, the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. He participated in negotiations enlarging NATO with the accession of Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Dr. Armstead has assisted in drafting constitutional reforms in Montenegro, South Africa, Poland, the Congo, and Lithuania and is currently Of Counsel to the American Bar Association Office of Human Rights. Dr. Armstead lectures on International law at the Austrian Academy of Higher Military Studies in Vienna.
Ohio Chautauqua wraps up with a Saturday evening performance of Bobby Kennedy by Jeremy Meier. Ariel Tuba Time will serve as the musical act that evening. Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968) was an American politician and lawyer who served as a United States Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination on June 5, 1968. He served as US Attorney General under his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, Kennedy was a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency; he ran on a platform of racial and economic justice, non-aggression in foreign policy, decentralization of power, and social change. A crucial element of his campaign was an engagement with the young, whom he identified as being the future of a reinvigorated American society based on partnership and equality.
Jeremy Meier is a professor of theater at Owens Community College in northwest Ohio. He teaches acting and has directed nineteen student productions at the school including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet. He also has adapted and directed texts for the stage including Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell. In addition to his portrayal of RFK, Meier has created original solo performances for the Ohio Humanities on John Dillinger and Oliver Hazard Perry. In 2016, Meier was awarded a grant by Ohio Humanities to pilot the state’s first Chautauqua Training Program for new scholars learning to develop original figures based on historical figures.
The workshop schedule at Bossard Memorial Library for the week is:
Youth Workshops (Best for ages 10 and up, but will adjust accordingly to the group size and ages present). Youth workshops begin at 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday, June 12 – Feminism Then and Now with Sally Ann Drucker (Betty Friedan)
Wednesday, June 13 – The Airplane, Flying the 20th Century with Jim Armstead (Benjamin O. Davis Jr.)
Thursday, June 14 – To Make Gentle the Life of this World: Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy with Jeremy Meier (Robert F. Kennedy)
Friday, June 15 – Legendary Children’s Stories from the mid-20th Century with Susan Marie Frontczak (Erma Bombeck)
Saturday, June 16 – Character Development for Chautauqua with Fred Blanco (Cesar Chavez)
Adult Workshops begin at 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12 – Zoot Suit Riots with Fred Blanco (Cesar Chavez)
Wednesday, June 13 – Women in Advertising Media with Dr. Sally Ann Drucker (Betty Friedan)
Thursday, June 14 – America Emerges as a World Power 1940-1970 with Dr. J. Holmes Armstead (Benjamin O. Davis Jr.)
Friday, June 15 – Kennedy Men: Father and Sons with Jeremy Meier (Robert F. Kennedy)
Saturday, June 16 – Hooked on Humor with Susan Marie Frontczak (Erma Bombeck)
For more information, follow the Ohio Chautauqua – Gallipolis page.