New Hampshire Humanities Council, Chautauqua 2005
"America Reinvents Itself 1905"
Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth (July 25-28, 2005)
What is Chautauqua? There was a time, between 1904 and the 1920's when communities across America -- including Portsmouth -- would put time aside for three to seven days each summer, for Chautauqua. Beneath the traveling Chautauqua Circuit tents they found programs fostering intellectual stimulation and enlightened discussion on the important political, social and cultural issues of the day At its height, Circuit Chautauqua reached 10,000 communities in 45 states and audiences totaling 45 million. Lecturers, like the 1905 notables appearing in this program, were the core of Chautauqua. But, thanks to the traveling Chautauqua performers, audiences also got the opportunity to see classic plays and Broadway hits, and hear a variety of music from Metropolitan Opera stars to glee clubs to bellringers. Many people saw their first movies in Chautauqua tents.
This is the 10th year the New Hampshire Humanities Council has presented Chautauqua at Strawbery Banke. This year the focus is on 1905 and the issues of the day that still resonate 100 years later. In 1905, America exploded onto the world stage.A progressive spirit was sweeping the land. The nation wrestled with such internal challenges as racism, women's suffrage, workers rights, immigration, new technology and religious liberty while we carved out a new role as a world power. Chautauqua 2005 is a gathering of some of the great minds of that day:
Theodore Roosevelt, the force behind the Portsmouth Peace Treaty negotiations, who called Chautauqua the most American thing in America
Thomas Edison, credited with 1,093 inventions including the incandescent lightbulb, and leader in technological innovation
Sarah Farmer, the Seacoast's own founder of Green Acre and its annual peace conferences; the only woman present at the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty
Ida Wells-Barrett, a committed suffragette, founding member of the NAACP and advocate of political empowerment
William Jennings Bryan, newspaper editor, political advocate and renowned orator, especially for his Cross of Gold speech and the 1925 Scopes trial
Fred Harvey, entrepreneur whose Harvey Girls greeted travelers in virtually every dusty train station in the West, offering home cooked meals and hometown hospitality
All programs are free and open to the public. Families are invited to picnic on the grass or buy refreshments at the tent.
Monday July 25
12 noon Young Chautauqua
Students aged 12-18 from the Seacoast, Monadnock Region and Nashua portray historical figures just like their adult counterparts. The students spend weeks in advance researching their characters, preparing scripts and creating costumes in order to present a living history performance followed by a question and answer session in, and out of character.
6pm Preshow Musical performance, Charlie Jennison Jazz Trio
7pm Thomas Edison & Fred Harvey
Tuesday, July 26
8am Breakfast at the Friendly Toast (Congress Street, Portsmouth) with Thomas Edison & Fred Harvey
12 pm Young Chautauqua
6pm Preshow Musical performance by Salt River Trio
7pm William Jennings Bryan & Ida Wells-Barrett
Wednesday, July 27
8am Breakfast with William Jennings Bryan & Ida Wells-Barrett at Me & Ollie's (Market Square, Portsmouth)
12pm Young Chautauqua
6pm Preshow Musical performance by Two Old Friends
7pm Theodore Roosevelt & Sarah Farmer
Thursday, July 28
8am Breakfast with Theodore Roosevelt & Sarah Farmer at Starbucks (Congress Street, Portsmouth)
Chautauqua 1905 America Reinvents Itself was also presented in Keene at Keene State College, July 21-23, and in Nashua at Greeley Park on July 24th. Contact: www.nhhc.org