Sharlot Hall Museum’s Blue Rose Theater will set the stage for Arizona’s centennial celebration when it presents “Chautauqua: Out of the Past into the Present” for one performance only on Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $8 for Museum members, $10 for nonmembers in advance and $14 for all at the door. Call 928-445-3122 to make a reservation; seating is limited.
The performance will feature Blue Rose Theater cast members in character as such early Prescott notables as museum founder and poet Sharlot Hall, author Martha Summerhayes, Judge Henry Fleury (aka Arizona’s Whiskey Chaplain) and territorial first lady Jessie Benton Frèmont. The historical figures will come alive as the actors perform dramatic monologues in costume, using the character’s own words to recount stories from their lives and the big issues of the period.
For the March 26th performance, audience members will be able to ask questions of the performers, in character, after they complete their monologues. At the end of the performance, the actors will step out of character to answer questions and promote discussion from contemporary perspectives.
The Chautauqua method originated in and takes its name from the town of Chautauqua, New York. Born there in a grove of trees in 1874, Chautauqua performances reflect people’s desire for historical insight and a true living history experience. Theodore Roosevelt termed it “the most American thing in America.”
The best way to understand the concept is to experience it, says Blue Rose Theater founder and director Jody Drake. “You’ll hear the language of the character’s time, from the person who actually lived it,” Drake says. “Chautauquas share the excitement or the despair of their experiences, allowing us to learn from the past and embrace the historical figure’s persona. It’s fun, enlightening, intriguing, educational and inspiring.”
Editor's note: To learn more about Martha Summerhayes read the Vanished Arizona, Sunday series on Prescott eNews. Each week, a different chapter will be published.