Vol. 38, No. 18
OSU Newark first stop for Ohio Chautauqua 2007
Big tent means big fun and learning for all ages
Each summer, a red-and-white-striped circus tent visits five Ohio communities for five days each, bringing with it a spirited mix of interactive theater, local music, entertainment and education.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and it’s always an adventure, for us and our ‘Chautauqua groupies’ around the state,” says Fran Tiburzio, director of public relations at the Ohio Humanities Council.
The process of selecting a theme, historical characters and actors to play those characters is more rigorous than people might think, Tiburzio adds. A Chautauqua Advisory Committee chooses a topic, generates a list of individuals they’d like to see portrayed on stage and then sends out a nationwide call for actors.
Would-be Roosevelts have to write an essay detailing their scholarship, include a video of their performance and provide letters of reference. The committee is very exacting on what it will and won’t accept, Tiburzio says.
“You’ll notice we don’t have a Churchill this year, and I’m not too thrilled about that, but the committee decided he just wasn’t good enough,” she says. “Same thing with the guy who applied to be General Patton: He was more of a motivational speaker than a scholar. You’ve got to really prove that you know your stuff before you go on our stage.”
Ohio Chautauqua traces its roots to the 19th century, beginning as educational summer camps at Lake Chautauqua in New York. As the outdoor summer school format caught on and word of Chautauqua spread, communities requested to be added to the Chautauqua schedule. The big tent and its accompanying lecturers, musicians, actors and other presenters traveled from town to town, sharing news, humor and culture.
Audiences who come to Newark’s big tent can participate in youth and adult workshops during the day — hosted by the actors/scholars — that cover topics such as radio programs in the 1940s, photographs from World War II and women’s roles on the homefront. The Newark Public Library will host youth workshops from June 20-24, each beginning at 10 a.m. A final youth workshop, June 24, will be hosted at Ohio State Newark, also beginning at 10 a.m. Adult workshops will take place at the Newark campus beginning at 1 p.m. All evening performances begin with a musical concert at 6:45 p.m. featuring groups such as Sweet Adelines and University Singers.
For more information about the program at Ohio State Newark, visit newark.osu.edu/chautauqua. To read biographies of the scholars and learn more about Chautauqua, visit ohiohumanities.org/chaut/index.htm.