The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., will once again host Maryland Humanities’ Chautauqua Summer Series this year on July 8-10. These live, waterfront performances will be focused on the theme of Making Waves, with all performances taking place from 7-8:30pm on CBMM’s Fogg’s Landing. All performances are free and open to the public.
Chautauqua performances are historical dramatizations featuring individuals who are part scholar, part actor. Each performance has three acts: the first, where the performer represents the historical figure in the first person; the second, where they invite audience questions; and the final act, where the performer steps out of character in order to answer questions that the historical figure would not have been able to answer.
The 2019 Chautauqua Summer Series at CBMM is generously sponsored by Karen and Langley Shook, and is funded in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County, and the towns of Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels.
The series will begin on Monday, July 8, with Matthew Henson, a polar explorer, author, and craftsman, who was the first African-American to reach the North Pole. Keith Henley, a historic interpreter and actor, will portray the Maryland native.
On Tuesday, July 9, the series continues with Jacques Cousteau, an oceanographer, filmmaker, and scientist known for deep-sea exploration and his invention of the aqua-lung, which is responsible for the development of SCUBA diving. Cousteau was famous in the United States for his long-running television series revealing the underwater world, but deserves recognition for his roles as a French naval officer and resistance spy during WWII as well. He also is partially responsible for the modern tradition of environmental advocacy. He will be portrayed by Doug Mishler, an independent scholar and veteran Chautauquan.
July 10’s performance will feature Grace O’Malley, a 16th century Irish Pirate Queen. O’Malley commanded ships, men, and the respect of Queen Elizabeth I during her rule on the seas. Known as the Sea Queen of Connaught and the Pirate Queen of Ireland, she commanded the West coast of Ireland and an entire fleet of ships during the 1500s. O’Malley proved herself a capable sailor and worker in the family business at a young age and so inherited ships, land, and cattle, wealth which she enlarged through trade, marriage, and piracy. She even faced down Queen Elizabeth I of England to defend her family and country. Mary Ann Jung will portray this daring woman.
“Chautauqua” was the name for the Chautauqua Lake area in Upstate New York. This region was the original home of the movement, beginning in 1874 as a Methodist summer retreat. The wide range of religious lectures and educational programs attracted a huge following. The Chautauqua movement evolved from there, presenting the latest in thinking in politics, economics, literature, science, and religion. Maryland Humanities launched the modern Chautauqua program in Maryland in 1995.
The Chautauqua Summer Series at CBMM invites guests to bring carry-on food and beverages, along with their own chairs and blankets for seating. All performances are held on the lawn of Fogg’s Landing near CBMM’s Steamboat Building, with convenient entry adjacent to parking. In the event of rain, performances will be held in the Van Lennep Auditorium, with space limited. No registration is required.
For more information, visit cbmm.org or call 410-745-2916. Additional information about the Chautauqua Summer Series can be found at mdhumanities.org.