Community backing returns Chautauqua

Ohio Chautauqua will make its fifth downtown Warren appearance June 24-28.

Chautauqua’s return to the Warren Community Amphitheatre area in 2014 shows how much support the community has for the arts. It also doesn’t hurt the downtown’s growing reputation as an entertainment and cultural venue. Chautauqua director Fran Tiburzio continually raves about the size of the crowds when the event comes to Warren.

The Ohio Humanities Council presents this event of living history, entertainment and education, which is in its 16th year. The four-day festival, set in a tent near the amphitheater, is highlighted by presentations by the Chautauqua Scholars who take on the roles of historic figures who present monologues in character and answer questions from the audience. They often present insightful facts about the people they portray as well about the research that goes into these remarkable performances.

According to the Ohio Chautauqua website, this year’s daytime workshops and nightly living history performances will revolve around the ”Journey Stories” theme.

Chautauqua scholar Debra Conner will introduce the character of Edith Russell, a Titanic survivor, who showed courage in the face of great tragedy.

Hank Fincken will take on the persona of J. Goldsborough Bruff, a ’49er on the trail of the California Gold Rush, reliving the challenges, dangers and rewards of the adventure.

Olive Ann Oatman, an Indian captive portrayed by Dianne Moran, will demonstrate perseverance and resiliency despite personal setbacks.

l Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be played by Marvin Jefferson in a presentation about racial and economic equality.

l Philosopher Henry David Thoreau, portrayed by Kevin Radaker, will prompt the audience to revere nature as well as value our own thoughts.

In a post on Facebook, Jefferson said he can’t wait to come to Warren in the summer. ”The folks in Warren (and in Ohio in general!) are great,” he wrote.

When the event was last in Warren two years ago, local auto dealer and Trumbull 100 President Diane Sauer said ”quality events like (Chautauqua) showcase the positives in our community.”

We expect the 2014 show to be no different and hope the record crowds to be even bigger with a bigger presence of youth. This event will be hosted by the Trumbull 100, the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau and the Tribune Chronicle, with support from the Warren Library Association.

The event will also coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Trumbull County public library, which was one of Ohio’s first and located inside cabinetmaker Charles White’s shop.

So often in a classroom, history is presented in textbook fashion, which can be somewhat boring to a technological savvy generation. A crafty storyteller like the ones showcased during Chautauqua can display a unique gift of drawing any person into the presentation no matter what the age.

This transforms the facts of the history books into flesh and blood, not to mention the spiritual and emotional aspects that can enhance the learning experience.

We hope Trumbull County residents can circle the June 24-28 dates and make plans to bring their entire families into downtown Warren for an uplifting and educational experience.