Chautauqua coming to Clifton

Historical characters will be portrayed by actors at each of the stops of Ohio Chautauqua 2015.

CLIFTON — A historical-entertainment festival is set to make a stop in the village of Clifton next week. Clifton is the third of four stops on Ohio Chautauqua’s summer tour.

Each evening from June 30-July 4 will feature an actor playing one of five historical characters (some of whom are fictional): Titanic survivor Edith Russell, 49er J. Goldsborough Bruff, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Indian captive Olive Ann Oatman, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

During each of the event’s five nights in Clifton, one of the impersonators will appear under a big-top tent, tell their story and answer questions from audience members. The tent can seat around 500 people, so the small village will likely be bustling while the festival is in town.

“I hope [attendees] get maybe a new-found interest in some of the history that’s discussed and explored and maybe they learn something new along with being a little bit dazzled and entertained by the performance aspect of it,” Clifton Mayor Alex Bieri said. “There’s something for everyone.”

In addition to the main-stage events, several workshops will be held during the days of the festival throughout Greene and Clark counties.

This year will mark the 17th annual tour for Ohio Chautauqua, but the roots of the event stretch back further than that. Chautauqua assemblies first became popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s and had similar education-entertainment goals.

“I think it’s … really significant to point out that the humanities – being language and history and all the rest – really are kind of the glue that binds us, that reminds us what it is to be human,” Bieri said. “…We all share a history and if we don’t celebrate that, learn about that, then obviously we’re missing an opportunity to enrich our lives.”

The tour made stops in Chillicothe and Akron earlier in June before coming to Clifton. The tour will conclude in Coshocton (July 7-11). The festival is free and open to the public.

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