From 7 to 9 p.m. on July 7, 8, and 9, the Chautauqua Summer Series comes to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD. This summer marks the 20th anniversary of the Maryland Humanities Council’s (MHC) free and family-friendly summertime living history performance series. Each year, important historical figures are brought back to life for audiences all over Maryland. This summer’s theme is “Creative Women: Breaking the Mold,” and features Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Dickinson, and Frida Kahlo.
On Monday, July 7, Georgia O’Keeffe will be played by Kelley Rouse, an award-winning broadcast journalist and former news anchor at WBOC-TV in Salisbury, who has been appearing as Georgia O’Keeffe since 2002. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is considered the first woman in the American Modern Art movement and is best known for her striking paintings of flowers, bones, and landscapes.
On Tuesday, July 8, Emily Dickinson will be played by MiMi Zannino, the poet-in-residence for the Maryland States Arts Council, who researched, wrote, and performed “Time Travel with Emily Dickinson” throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an American poet whose works are considered among the finest in the English language.
On Wednesday, July 9, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) will be played by Marian Licha, an award-winning actress best known for her one-woman show Frida Vice-Versa, which she co-authored and produced. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist best known for her self-portraits painted in vibrant colors.
A Chautauqua performance is an unscripted and spontaneous historical improv featuring individuals that are part scholar and part actor. Each performance is broken into three acts, where the performer represents a historical figure in the first person, then invites audience questions, and in the final act, steps out of character to answer questions that the historical figure could not have been able to answer.
“Chautauqua” was the name for the Chautauqua Lake area in upstate New York, where the movement began in 1874 as a Methodist summer retreat. A wide range of religious lectures and educational programs attracted a huge following. As it evolved, the Chautauqua movement presented the latest in thinking in politics, economics, literature, science, and religion. MHC launched the modern Chautauqua program in Maryland in 1995.
The Chautauqua Summer Series at CBMM is free and open to the public. Beer, wine, and other refreshments will be available for purchase, including Justine’s ice cream, with the public invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Carry-on food and alcohol is prohibited. All performances are to be held on the lawn of Fogg’s Landing, which is near the museum’s Steamboat Building. In the event of rain, performances will be held in the Van Lennep Auditorium. No registration is required.
The Chautauqua Summer Series at CBMM is generously underwritten by the Women & Girls Fund of Easton, MD, Geoff Oxnam, Carolyn Williams, Karen Shook, Blair Potter, Jocelyn Eysymontt, Kay Perkins, Cecilia Nobel, and Catherine Hill.
Illustration by Tom Chalkley, Baltimore.