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What can you expect from Young Chautauqua?

“Chautauqua” has its roots in the festival held each year at Chautauqua Lake, New York. It is a tradition for families to take their vacations at the lake where they can participate in a variety of activities including everything from concerts and plays to religious services. One type of entertainment is historical impersonation. A scholar selects a character, learns everything about him or her, and then personifies them on the stage. There is a monologue where the scholar shares anecdotes about his or her life. This is followed by a period where the audience asks questions of the character. The performer next steps out of character and answers questions as the “scholar.”

They are called “scholars” because the most challenging part of the process is the research.
The Chautauqua performer needs to learn everything they can about their character. They learn not only information about their character but they learn personality and mannerisms. They also need to learn about the historical context in which their character lived. A costume is prepared to make them look like their subject. This process can take many hours.

Nevada has taken this form of entertainment and perfected it. We have our own “Chautauqua Festivals” around the state where we feature historical impersonation as well as other entertainment. Adults have been performing for many decades. Twenty-one years ago the Young Chautauqua program started training scholars from eight to eighteen years old.

Our scholars perform in a variety of venues including schools, libraries, parks, retirement communities, and service clubs. We participate in the Artown Festival each year in July in Rancho San Rafael Park where we rent a big tent and offer performances for the public over multiple days.

Our training program lasts about six months from January through June. We have two ninety minute “workshops” a month. Here is a link to our Calendar. We meet at the Sparks Museum and prepare to represent our characters. We learn how to do research, to tell stories, prepare a monologue, answer questions, and to present in front of an audience. Our scholars find these skills to be invaluable as they enter college and proceed into their careers.

Silver State Young Chautauqua workshops begin on January 23rd this year. We meet upstairs at the Sparks Museum and Cultural Center at 814 Victorian Ave. • Sparks, NV 89431 (Near the corner of Pyramid - (Map). The workshops run from 6:30 to 8 PM. The program is free for the students. Please come check us out.