History comes alive

Audience members get a chance to “meet” some important figures in American history during the 15th annual Great Basin Chautauqua. During a Chautauqua presentation, a scholar gives a monologue in the guise of a historical figure, describing key moments in his or her life and thought. Following the monologue, audience members can interact with the historical figure, typically asking the character questions pertinent to the times he or she lived in. Finally, the scholar breaks character to respond to questions that could not be answered while acting. This year’s event focuses on several themes in American history: Westward Expansion, McCarthyism, Race in the 20th Century and the American Judiciary. An Evening of Young Chautauqua kicks off the festival on July 16. The event continues July 17 with Clay Jenkinson and Judge Brent Adams as President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. On July 18, Frank Mullen Jr. (pictured) and Paul Vickery will portray journalist Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joe McCarthy. Doris Dwyer and David Fenimore will perform as Donner Party member Margaret Breen and California Gold Rush figure John Sutter on July 19. The festival closes July 20 with a presentation by Charles Pace, who will portray educator Booker T. Washington and civil rights activist Malcolm X. The Great Basin Chautauqua begins 7 p.m. daily under the large tent at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra St. Tickets are $15 and $50. Call 784-6587.