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Springfield-Greene County Libraries sponsor Chautauqua Apr 22-26

The public is invited to meet four memorable leaders of the 1930s at an old-time, outdoor Chautauqua April 22-26 at the Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave. All events are free and open to the public. If it rains, performances move indoors. Actor/scholars will portray Henry Ford, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Will Rogers and Aimee Semple McPherson presented “under the tent” in a lecture format in the style of the popular turn-of-the-century events that first drew crowds in Lake Chautauqua, NY in the 1870s. Big Smith band member Mark Bilyeu will open the series with the music of “Dust Bowl Troubadour” Woody Guthrie on Thursday April 22. The Chautauqua is part of the library’s April "Big Read" celebration, the “one book, one community” project to inspire reading through a shared book experience. The Chautauqua echoes the storytelling and 1930s themes of Big Read programs this month, and in the featured book, “A Long Way from Chicago,” by Richard Peck. Beginning as a Sunday-school teacher training program, Chautauqua evolved to include education and entertainment, with speeches by orators and entertainment. BY 1900 the Chautauqua became a popular form of traveling summer entertainment under a tent. It faded after 1930 bur re-emerged in the Midwest about 25 years ago with historical portrayals. Mark Bilyeu's concert of the music of Woody Guthrie is at 7:00pm Thursday April 22 at the Library Center. Paul Vickery portrays Henry Ford at 6:30pm Friday April 23rd; Patrick McGinnis plays FDR dealing with the Great Depression on Saturday April 24 at 6:30pm; and on Sunday April 25th starting at 2:00pm, actor/scholar Tonia Compton will portray Depression-era evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, with 30s gospel music performed by local musicians; and Doug Watson will portray humorist Will Rogers. Tonia Compton will also present a workshop in the role of radio during the Depression at 2pm Saturday 4/24 at the Brentwood Branch Library, 2214 Brentwood Blvd; and Monday the 26th at 2pm Doug Watson will give a talk about Will Rogers' film career in the Library Center auditorium. For more details call 882-0714.