Chautauqua Series

Illustration of ocean explorers

What is Chautauqua?

Inspired by an education movement that began in 1874 near the Chautauqua Lake area of southwestern New York State, Chautauqua (shuh-taw-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 2019: Making Waves

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” - Jacques Cousteau

In our 25th season, Maryland Humanities is diving into how water has shaped our history. We celebrate those who have navigated ice, waves, and the depths below by bringing three historical adventurers to life on the Chautauqua stage.

All performances will begin at 6:45 p.m. and will be held in the Brad and Linda Gottfried Theater in the Fine Arts Center (FA Building) on the La Plata Campus.

Matthew Henson: Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 6:45 p.m.

Matthew Henson, a polar explorer, craftsman, author, and said to be the first African-American to reach the North Pole. Keith Henley, a historic interpreter and actor, will portray the Maryland native. Henley performs as Henry Box Brown, George Washington Carver, Langston Hughes, Sergeant Henry Johnson, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the American Historical Theatre in Philadelphia and at Chautauquas in Colorado, Delaware, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

Jacques Cousteau: Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 6:45 p.m.

Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer, filmmaker, and scientist. He is known for his deep-sea explorations and his invention of the aqua-lung. Doug Mishler, an independent scholar and veteran Chautauquan, will portray him. Mishler has performed as P. T. Barnum, Theodore Roosevelt, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ford, Jefferson Davis, George Wallace, Upton Sinclair, Major General Robert Ross, and General Joseph Pershing at past Maryland Humanities Chautauquas. He also portrays Ernie Pyle, Billy Sunday, William Clark, and others at Chautauqua programs throughout the country.

Grace O'Malley: Thursday, July 11, 2019, 6:45 p.m.

Grace O’Malley was a 16th century Irish Pirate Queen, who commanded ships, men, and the respect of Queen Elizabeth I. She will be portrayed by Mary Ann Jung, an award-winning actress who specializes in interactive history. Jung has portrayed Clara Barton, Rosalie Stier Calvert, Amelia Earhart, and Julia Child at past Maryland Humanities Chautauquas, and also performs as Margaret Brent, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others.

Performances subject to change.

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Old Line Bank logo

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

For information on Chautauqua, visit