Chautauqua Series


Artwork Courtesy of Tom Chalkley

What is Chautauqua?

Taking its name from a lake in New York State, Chautauqua (shuh-tqaw-kwa) is a FREE living history performance series each July. Join your fellow Marylanders at this year’s event, and meet and talk with celebrated figures from our nation’s past.

Chautauqua 2018: Seeking Justice

“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

With these words, Eleanor Roosevelt asked a complicated question: “what is justice?” Throughout 2018, Maryland Humanities is engaging with this challenging notion. For our 24th season, we celebrate the contributions to the search for justice by bringing three historical activists to life on the Chautauqua stage.

Chautauqua 2018 honors a continuing search for justice with three characters: Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and orator; Eleanor Roosevelt, a first lady and human rights advocate; and Thurgood Marshall, a civil rights activist and first African American Supreme Court Justice.

All performances will begin at 6:45 PM and will be held in the Fine Arts Center Theatre.

Frederick Douglass: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Frederick Douglass, a writer, orator, and abolitionist, was one of the most important African-American activists of the nineteenth century. During the “Year of Frederick Douglass,” the bicentennial celebration of his birth, this Maryland icon will be portrayed by Bill Grimmette, a living history interpreter, storyteller, actor, and motivational speaker who has appeared as Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, and Benjamin Banneker at Chautauquas in Maryland, Colorado, and South Carolina. PLEASE NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in Chautauqua are the performers’ interpretations of the historical figures and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Maryland Humanities, Chautauqua host sites, or our funders. Performances do not contain adult content, but there is some use of a deeply offensive and disrespectful term that is used in its historical context and is a direct quote from the historical figure portrayed.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Eleanor Roosevelt, a humanitarian, diplomat, and the longest serving First Lady in American history, was also an important advocate for justice. She will be portrayed by Susan Marie Frontczak, a writer, speaker, living history presenter, and storyteller. Frontczak has appeared throughout the United States as Marie Curie, Clara Barton, Mary Shelley, and Irene Castle.

Thurgood Marshall: Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thurgood Marshall was a civil rights activist from Baltimore who broke barriers as the lead NAACP attorney in Brown v. Board of Education and as the first African American Supreme Court Justice. He will be portrayed by Brian Anthony Wilson, a film and television actor and producer who will perform a scene from the play Thurgood by George Stevens, Jr., followed by a dialogue with Lenneal Henderson. Henderson is an internationally recognized scholar who brought Marshall to life in the 2010 Maryland Humanities Chautauqua tour.

Performances subject to change.

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Chautauqua is presented by Maryland Humanities in partnership with College of Southern Maryland with support from Old Line Bank.

For information on Chautauqua, visit