The Transylvania Chautauqua’s 2023 History Comes Alive Festival will be held from Monday, June 12, to Saturday, June 17. All shows in the “Secrets Revealed” series will be held at 7 p.m. in the Rogow Room at the Transylvania County Library. Doors will open one hour before show time. Seating is first come, first served. Transylvania Chautauqua is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.
Everyone keeps secrets, sometimes for practical reasons like a password or a lock combination, sometimes for the very most personal of reasons. Chautauqua 2023, Secrets Revealed, will explore the secrets and lives of a host of accomplished and historic characters.
Who is more involved in the world of secrets than a spy? During the American Revolution both the traitor Benedict Arnold and the British commander Cornwallis turned to an enslaved man named James to be their spy against the Americans. Neither men suspected that the clever servant, James Armistead Lafayette, was already a spy for the Patriots. (Monday, June 12).
Steve Jobs (Tuesday, June 13) of Apple and Pixar fame will share the secrets of his success that shaped the way we live today. A zealous perfectionist, Jobs tested the boundaries of creative possibility and often the patience of his collaborators. He made computers accessible to the world. Then he made them fit into pockets. The question – what was the secret to Steve Jobs’ vision?
Next, meet author Mary Shelley (Wednesday, June 14), who at the age of only 19 penned the famous Gothic novel “Frankenstein.” Secrets abound in Shelley’s seminal novel, but permeated her own life as well. At the age of 16 Mary ran off to Europe with the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. She returned to England pregnant but not married to Shelley and lived in hiding until their daughter was born.
Nellie Bly (Thursday, June 15) was America’s pioneering undercover reporter. Her daring adventures in the Victorian Age revealed the horrors of mental institutions by having herself committed for “Ten Days in a Mad-House.” She went alone around the world in 72 days, trained elephants and danced as a New York showgirl – all revealed in her popular newspaper articles.
Finally, believe it or not, Robert Ripley (Saturday, June 17) created an entertainment empire by revealing secrets of the oddest and most unusual nature. His column was published worldwide as were his books and he pioneered in radio and television broadcasting while personally living one of the most unbelievable lives of the 20th century.
The History Comes Alive “Secrets Revealed” performers are talented historical interpreters who bring each character to life and speak in their character’s own words. The audience will then question the character, delving more deeply into the issues that have been raised. The replies will be historically authentic, based on research using letters, diaries, journals, and published writings. Finally, the interpreter will step out of character and answer audience questions from a critical, modern perspective.
•Stephen Seals (James Armistead Layfayette)
Seals currently portrays Layfayette at Colonial Williamsburg. He is also community outreach liaison and program development manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Seals started at Colonial Williamsburg 12 years ago as an actor interpreter and for three years was also supervisor of the unit before becoming the manager of program development for African American and religion interpretation for the foundation. Prior to coming to Colonial Williamsburg, Steals was a freelance actor traveling the country performing and directing theater. He majored in theatre education at Virginia Commonwealth University and spent 10 years teaching theater in the Richmond community, also working as an actor, director, stage manager, production manager and lighting designer.
•Jeremy Meier (Steve Jobs)
Meier serves as the chair of fine and performing arts at Owens Community College in northwest Ohio. He has directed 19 student productions at the school including Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “Romeo and Juliet” as well as 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 Jobs, Meier has created original solo performances for the Ohio Humanities on John Dillinger and Oliver Hazard Perry. In 2017 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.
•Susan Marie Frontczak (Mary Shelley)
Frontczak has given over 850 presentations as Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, Irene Castle, Clara Barton, Eleanor Roosevelt and Erma Bombeck across 43 of the United States and abroad in her 21 years as a living history scholar.
She also works with both adults and youth to develop their own Chautauqua presentations. Frontczak authored the Young Chautauqua coaching handbooks for Colorado Humanities and coaches students in grades 3 through 12. In 2022 she joined the faculty of the new Chautauqua Training Institute run through North Dakota Humanities that is coaching a dozen new Chautauqua scholars from across the country.
For Frontczak, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” represents coming full circle. In her early life she delighted in the magical and supernatural world of fairy tales. This was supplanted for a number of years by a career in the sciences and engineering. Frankenstein brings her back to the imaginary, albeit transformed into the possible by today’s medical and technological advances and shadowed by the question mark of bioethical responsibility.
•Anne Pasquale (Nelly Bly)
Pasquale trained at LAMDA and the New York School of the Arts. Pasquale creates and tours her repertoire of living history programs for audiences of all ages in venues along the east coast.
Pasquale is a member of The Actors Studio and a founding member of the Accidental Repertory Theatre (ART).
NY Off Broadway credits include Martha in “Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” Serafina Della Rosa in “The Rose Tattoo,” Emma Goldman in “The Haymarket Chronicle” and Kristina Linde in “Variations on a Dolls House.” She is the recipient of the 2015 Broadway World Rhode Island best writer and performer award for her solo show, “BOB.” You can find out more at www.annepasquale.com.
•Larry Bounds (Robert Ripley)
Bounds has performed on the Chautauqua stage since 2002.
Over the years he has portrayed Einstein, Churchill, Disney, Crockett, Von Braun, Cronkite and last year Harry Houdini to numerous Chautauqua audiences nationwide. Bounds holds a B.A. in theatre and a M.Ed from The University of Tennessee, and he is a National Board Certified educator. For 35 years he taught public high school.
He was awarded his school’s Teacher of the Year in 2003 and was recognized as one of the Upstate’s Most Influential Educators by Parent Magazine in 2018.
He has performed as a professional magician since 1973, including eight years entertaining with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
The International Brotherhood of Magicians admitted him to the Order of Merlin in 2009. Bounds is also an active member of Mensa, the International Churchill Society and the South Carolina Treasure and Artifact Association
The Chautauqua History Comes Alive is a nonprofit based in Greenville, South Carolina. Learn more at www.historycomesalive.org/
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