The Transylvania Times -

Library Will Bring History 'Alive' This September


Last updated 8/23/2021 at 7:35pm

Larry Bounds as Ben Franklin.

The Transylvania Chautauqua's 2021 History Comes Alive Festival traditionally held in June has been rescheduled for Sept. 7 – 10.

All shows in the new "Reinventing America" series will be held outdoors at the county library amphitheater. If inclement weather prevents an outdoor event, the performances will be held in the library's Rogow Room. Transylvania Chautauqua is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Step back in time to meet four brilliant American game changers, hear their stories and ask them how they "Reinvented America." Create a new nation with Ben Franklin (Tuesday, Sept. 7); set the stage for WiFi and cell phones with Hollywood's Hedy Kamarr (Wednesday, Sept. 8); turn darkness into light with Thomas Edison (Thursday, Sept. 9); and spark the electrical revolution with Nikola Tesla (Friday, Sept. 10).

Performances begin at noon and will last approximately 80 minutes. Bring your own lawn or camp chair for use in the amphitheater as a very limited number of chairs will be available onsite.

The History Comes Alive "Reinventing America" performers are talented historical interpreters who bring each character to life and speak in the 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.

The interpreters of these powerful and fascinating historic figures are: Ben Franklin (Larry Bounds, Greer, S.C.); Hedy Lamarr (Judith Kalaora, Boston, Massachusetts); Thomas Edison (Hank Fincken, Indianapolis, Indiana); and Nikola Tesla (Ian Ruskin, Los Angeles, California).

The Chautauqua History Comes Alive is a nonprofit based in Greenville, S.C., using an experiential oral tradition that brings history to life through interactive theater and compelling discussion aimed at stimulating critical thinking.

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Chautauqua History Alive 2021 Festival Historical Interpreters

•Larry Bounds has performed on the Chautauqua stage since 2002. Over the years he has portrayed Einstein, Churchill, Disney, Houdini, Crockett, Von Braun, Cronkite, and last year Andrew Jackson to numerous Chautauqua audiences nationwide. Bounds holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and a Master's of Education 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.

•Judith Kalaora is a professional educator, actress and living historian. She graduated Magna cum Laude from Syracuse University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting, along with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and culture. She attended the Globe Education Program of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, England.

She founded History at Play in 2010 to provide educational entertainment, chronicling the lives of influential and often forgotten women. Kalora researches, writes, produces and performs. She also performs as Christa McAuliffe, Dolley Madison, Lucy Stone and Rachel Revere. In 2019 she performed in Spartanburg as Deborah Sampson.

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•For more than 20 years, Hank Fincken has toured as a living history performer in Europe, South America and the United States. He performs in theaters, educational institutions, libraries, corporate meetings, Chautauquas, national and international conferences, parks and cultural events as Johnny Appleseed, Thomas Edison, Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford, forty-niner J.G. Bruff, Francisco Pizarro, Prosecuting Attorney Richard Crowley and W.C. Fields.

The Indiana Arts Commission named him a master artist, and the Indiana Theatre Association gave him the "Teaching and Service Award." He has the endorsement of numerous cultural institutions, including the Indiana and the Ohio Humanities Councils. For the past four years, Fincken has received the national Pinnacle Award, based on the quality of his distance learning programs. For more information, visit http://www.hank fincken.

Judith Kalaora as Hedy Lamarr.

•Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Ian Ruskin has performed internationally in repertory companies, London's West End, and American TV and film, including "Murder She Wrote" and "MacGyver."

In 1994, he was cast as Harry Bridges, radical longshoreman union leader. That role inspired him to write a one-man play about Bridges, "From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks," followed by a second one-man historical play, "To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine." (Both plays have aired on PBS.)

He continues his mission to present the stories of history's misunderstood heroes with his latest one-man play, "Magic and Lightning: into the Mind of Nikola Tesla."

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