PIQUA — Ohio Chautauqua kicked off today with daytime programs in Sidney and Piqua, including a program for youth at the Piqua Public Library.
Scholar Fred Blanco, who will be portraying Cesar Chavez — the founder of the United Farm Workers labor movement — later this week in an evening performance at Fountain Park, held a program at the Piqua Public Library to teach children about Chautauqua, character development, and acting.
Dozens of kids and their parents filled the children’s area of the library before the event was moved to the library lobby.
“Chautauqua is a presentation, usually a historical presentation,” Blanco said. Blanco described it as, for instance, if he was interested President Abraham Lincoln, he would research Lincoln and then put on a performance pretending to be Lincoln.
“It’s a really fun way to learn about history,” Blanco said, adding, “It can be anybody you have interest in.”
Blanco also held a number of acting exercises for the kids, including arm motions, facial exercises, and vocal exercises.
“You perform as one person,” Blanco said. “Since it’s by yourself, you really want to want to think about … how you’re going to convey your language.”
Later at Fountain Park, scholar Susan Marie Frontczak will be portraying Erma Bombeck, a popular newspaper columnist in the 1970s who published 15 books before she passed away in 1996. “Frontczak’s portrayal of Bombeck highlights the humorist’s role in making the middle-class American housewife into a legend,” a press release from the Miami County Visitor’s Bureau states.
The Fries Band will also perform prior to Frontczak’s portrayal of Bombeck.
The Ohio Chautauqua evening performances will be held at Hance Pavilion in Fountain Park in Piqua, 1300 Forest Ave., each evening from today until the final performance on Saturday evening. The doors open and music begins at 6:15 p.m. and the characters take the stage at 7:30 p.m. each evening.
More to come
During the day on Wednesday, the two programs include scholar James Armstead speaking on “The Airplane, Flying the 20th Century” at 1 p.m. at WACO Museum Center, 1865 S.County Roard 25-A, Troy, for youth.
Scholar Sally Ann Drucker will discuss “Feminism Then and Now” at 2:30 p.m. at the Sidney Historical Society, 201 N. Main St. in Sidney, which is also a youth program.
During the evening on Wednesday, Blanco will portray Cesar Chavez, who according to a press release, “succeeded in raising salaries and improving working conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.”
The Gotham City Brass Quintet will open for Blanco’s performance.
On Thursday, the daytime programs include scholar Susan Marie Frontczak’s seminar “Hooked on Humor — Bringing humor to your stories” at 1 p.m. June 7 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main St., Troy, for adults.
Blanco will also return for his seminar on the Zoot Suit Riots at 2 p.m. June 7 at Edison State Community College, 1973 Edison Drive, Piqua, for adults.
On Thursday evening, scholar Dr. Sally Ann Drucker will portray Betty Friedan, who is noted for sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century, according to the Miami County Visitor’s Bureau. Friedan was also the co-founder and first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Acoustic Friends will perform prior to Drucker’s portrayal of Friedan.
On Friday, scholar Jeremy Meier will discuss Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy” at noon at the Piqua Public Library, for youth. Drucker will also return to talk about women in advertising media at 2 p.m. at the Piqua YWCA, 418 N. Wayne St., Piqua, which will be for adults.
In the evening, scholar Dr. J. Holmes Armstead will portray Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Davis was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force. Some of his missions included escorting bombers on air combat missions over Europe.
Music will be provided by the American Kings.
On Saturday, Armstead will discuss “America Emerges as a World Power 1940 -1970” at 11 a.m. at the Troy-Miami County Library, 419 W. Main St., Troy, for adults.
Frontczak will also return to discuss “Legendary Children’s Stories from the mid-20th Century” at 2 p.m. at the Piqua Public Library, which will be for youth.
On Saturday evening, Meier will portray Robert F. Kennedy, a politician and lawyer from Massachusetts. He managed his brother John F. Kennedy’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in addition to serving as attorney general and junior senator from New York.
Music will be provided by the Piqua Civic Band.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com