JUNE 9 - 13, 2010



From the late 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century, touring Chautauquas combined oratory and lectures about national events with literary readings and musical entertainment that entertained and informed people about political and cultrual happenings.


The Chautauqua theme for the summer of 2010 is Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties.  The Kansas- Nebraska Chautauqua offers opportunities for audiences to come together to deliberate on current issues through the hsitorical lens of the Thirties.  When the stock market crashed in 1929, America entered a decade of hard times.  For many historicans, the Thirties represent an era when Americans looked for ways to survive a national crisis, one characterized by extensive economic depression, devastating environmental disaster, and signs of worldwide political unrest.  As part of the Chautauqua residency, five scholars will explore and discuss with your community about events from the 1930's and how those events affect Americans today.


Doug Watson presents Will Rogers, American humorist, radio and film star, and essayist who commented on American culture and politics.  A member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Rogers was billed as the "Cherokee Kid: for stage performances and secured his stage career by performing in Ziegfield's New York Variety revue.  Writing for newspapers and magazines from 1925-1935, giving radio broadcasts, appearing in movies,a and winning the admiration of American audiences, Rogers offered observations from a general, nonpartisan point of view.  As moderator for each performance, Will Rogers will bring audiences into the Thirties using his authentic American voice.                
Dr. Watson holds the Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and is a retired professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist university.  A seasoned Chautauquan, Dr. Watson has performed over 300 programs across the nation as Will Rogers.  He has also developed and presented over 40 "Let's Talk About It" programs for Oklahoma and Kansas libraries.

Patrick E. McGinnis presents Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President of the United States from 193201945 and the leader of the New Deal to help Americans in their time of need,.  In his first hundred day, FDR enacted what some viewed as frantic experimenting with a number of federal programs.  The result was a mix of new and innovative government programs that blended traditional works projects with untraditional projects for artists, writers, architects, musicians, and you people.                                                                                                                                                                                  Dr. McGinnis holds the Ph.D. from Tulane university and for the last four years has held the rank of Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Central Oklahoma.  He has published Oklahoma's Depression Radicals: Ira M. Finley and the Veterans of Industry of America in 1991, in addition to several historical articles.

Fred Krebs presents Huey Long, the Senator from Louisiana who, unlike Roosevelt, used force and totalitarian tactics to attempt to bring aid to his and Americans.  As a young governor, Long cowed legislative apposition and implemented public works programs, putting Louisiana to work, all the while acting in more dictatorial way.  In 1930, he was elected to the United States Senate.  In his attempt to redistribute wealth in 1934, Long created the Share Our Wealth programs with the motto "Every Man a King."  Long's popularity came from his powerful speeches, social reform programs, and forceful actions.

Tonia Compton portrays Aimee Semle McPherson, who provided relief to impoverished families in Log Angeles and who was a pioneer evangelist and pastor.  The founder of publications titled "Bible Call" and "Foursquare Crusader," McPherson established over 400 branch chruches she called Lighthouses. She was a popular preacher and an authority on religious issues, challenging the long-standing tradition of women remaining silent in church.                                                                                                                             Compton is a Professor of History at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri and holds the Ph.D. in history from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the M.A. from Texas A & M.  Her scholarship has brought her the Huntington Library W.M. Keck Foundation Fellowship, 2006, the University of Nebraska, Department of Hisotry Stover Fellowshop, 2004, and the Alpha Chi H.Y. Benedict Fellowship, 1999.  Her research interest is nineteenth century women's history.

Wanda Schell portrays Zora Neale Hurston, who worked for Federal Works Progress Administration projects collecting folklore.  she also authored works of fiction and non-fiction during the Thirties.  Hurston provided an authentic voice for African Americans through her folklore collection Men and Mules, the fictional Their Eyes Were Watching God, and her work for the Library of Congress and the Fold Arts Committee of the  WPA.                                                                                                                                                                                  Schell is an accomplished actress and writer who holds degrees in liberal arts and theatre from the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and has pursued graduate work at the Trinity Repertoire Conservatory.  She is also a published playwright, singer, storyteller, director, and founding of Drama is Life Production, Inc., an educational theatre company committed to educating both children and adults about social issues and cultural topics through live theatre, video, and workshops.

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Kansas Humanities Council

The Bright Dreams, Hard Times:  America in the Thirties Chautauqua is presented by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Humanities Council.  The Chautauqua is supported by We the People, a grant initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.