2020 Chautauqua: Visionaries

  • Doug Mishler as Gene Roddenberry
  • Karen Vuranch as Gertrude Bell
  • John Anderson as Marshall McLuhan
  • Susan Marie Frontczak as Madame Curie
  • Ted Kachel as Frank Lloyd Wright


2019 Oklahoma Chautauqua: From Pizarro to Picasso: Hispanic Legacy in America Today (June 18-22)

2019 Evening Performances - Tuesday through Saturday, 7 pm – City Hall Auditorium

  • Tuesday, June 18: Hank Fincken as Francisco Pizarro (El Conquistador)
  • Wednesday, June 19:  Paul Vickery as Bartolomé de las Casas (The Missionary)
  • Thursday, June 20:  Ilene Evans as Elizabeth Catlett (The Artist)
  • Friday, June 21: Joey Madia as Ernesto (Che) Guevara (The Cuban Revolutionary)
  • Saturday, June 22:  Doug Mishler as Pablo Picasso (The Master)

2019 Workshops - Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am & 2 pm – Museum of the Great Plains

  •  Tuesday, June 18; 10 am: Mythopoetics and the Cult of Che - In life, Che inspired radical revolutionaries like Abbie Hoffman. After death he became a mythic martyr: the iconic red and black image, the cigar and beret. Who is the man behind the image? By Joey Madia
  • Tuesday, June 18; 2 pm:  The Columbian Exchange - How the Old and New Worlds affected each other  when two worlds collided in 1492.  Potatoes and tomatoes are indigenous to South America -  how did their arrival in Europe change their diet permanently? By Paul Vickery
  • Wednesday, June 19; 10 am:  Picasso in Art: From Prodigy to Impresario - Images of the variety of Picasso styles and mediums that he produced, and the impact of his work on world culture.  Central focus on the birth of Cubism. By Doug Mishler
  • Wednesday, June 19; 2 pm: The Legacy of Elizabeth Catlett - A gallery showcase of her woodcuts, linocuts, and sculptures in clay, bronze, wood, marble, stone, and cantera.  Catlett’s role in the Mexican Art tradition and in today’s practices of racism, classism and sexism. By Ilene Evans
  • Thursday, June 20; 10 am: The Encomienda System - How modern land ownership began with this system of giving land and Indians to the Spanish, influencing the relationship between the two.  How Las Casas fought against this system and slavery itself. By Paul Vickery
  • Thursday; June 20; 2 pm: Peru Today - To know about Pizarro’s influence on the Americas today, see what life was like in Peru before Pizarro arrived and compare it to life there today.  Sometimes the best way to understand our own culture is to study somebody else’s. By Hank Fincken
  • Friday, June 21; 10 am: Tolerance:  The New Intolerance - History used to be the study of Great White Men.  Times have changed.  Or have they?   The dangers of judging the past by contemporary values:  who we are is when we are. By Hank Fincken
  • Friday, June 21; 2 pm: Picasso and the Women in His Life - Picasso’s private life - how his fascination and troubles with women shaped his life and his art.  There was always a compulsion about women in his life and art which was often not healthy and often so exquisite. By Doug Mishler
  • Saturday, June 22; 10 am:  Our Proper Sphere: The Changing Role of Women in America - How did Elizabeth Catlett challenge her times in Mexico and the U.S.? We’ll examine the changing values  about women and their place in the world in the 1940’s and 50’s. By Ilene Evans
  • Saturday; June 22; 2 pm:  Guevara, Boal, and Freire:  A Trinity for Change - Che believed in lifelong education as the centerpiece of a socialist, equitable world.  How these three South American innovators created an enduring nexus between theatre, education, and social justice. By Joey Madia


2019 Chautauqua Companion Reader

Learn more about the weeklong events!
Companion Reader

Volunteers Needed

Contact 580.581.3450 to volunteer.

Previous Chautauqua

  • 2018: The Modern Age: Moving Forward from World War I
  • 2017: Cowboys and Cattle Trails
  • 2016: The Cold War: The Early Years
  • 2015: The Dust Bowl: Strong Winds, Strong Characters
  • 2014: A Crisis of Confidence: The War That Changed the World
  • 2013: Anything Goes: America in the 1920s
  • 2012: Behind the Screen: Hollywood's Impact on American Culture
  • 2011: It's All Make Believe: Hollywod's Golden Age
  • 2010: The Wounds of War: A Tale of Two Americas
  • 2009: Lincoln's Legacy of Equality: Voices on the Fringe
  • 2008: A Time for Every Purpose: America in the 1960s
  • 2007: OK Centennial: 100 Years of Oklahoma Heroes
  • 2006: Throw the Book at 'em: Outlaws and Authors of Oklahoma
  • 2005: Portraits of the Renaissance: Poets, Pirates and Playwrights
  • 2004: Civil War: Love and War
  • 2003: Lies and Compromises: America in the 1850s
  • 2002: From Sea to Shining Sea
  • 2001: Behold the New Century
  • 2000: The Evolution of the West: Myth and Reality
  • 1999: 1895-1920: The Age of Excess and Opulence
  • 1998: Early America: The Struggle for Freedom
  • 1997: Prime Times, Scoundrel Times: Post War America
  • 1996: The Progressive Era: 1890-1920
  • 1995: Voices of the '30s: Defining Modern America

Upcoming Chautauqua

  • 2020: Visionaries
  • 2021: The 60s
  • 2022: Civil Liberties

What Is Chautauqua?

Modern-day Chautauqua programs present a variety of historical enactments, workshops, and informal discussions. Evening performances include first-person presentations and time for audience questions to the historical figure in-character and to the scholar portraying the character. Ten daytime workshops and five evening lectures explore the cultural and political nuances of the era. The events are all free of charge, and are targeted to audiences of all ages, cultures, and socio-economic demographics.

The first Chautauqua Assembly took place on July 1, 1874, and was located on Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown, New York. John Heyl Vincent (1832-1920), secretary of the Methodist Sunday School (and later bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church) and Lewis Miller (1829-1899), an Akron, Ohio businessman, were the two founders. The Chautauqua Assemblies, which began as summer camp meetings, were held under the sanction and direction of the governing Sunday School Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

It didn’t take long for an eight-week educational camp to become popular. Within a decade, the Chautauqua assemblies (or Chautauquas, for short) sprang up all over the United States, bringing learning, culture and entertainment to small towns and villages. Over the years, the range of subjects at the Chautauqua grew. Prominent personalities were paid to give speeches on religious, political and scientific topics, such as Samuel Clemens and William Jennings Bryan.

Circuit Chautauquas, also called Tent Chautauquas, began in 1904. The programs were performed in tents for a few days, then folded up and moved to a new location. By the mid-1920s, when circuit Chautauquas were at their peak, they appeared in more than 10,000 communities.

In 1976, Everett Albers, Executive Director of the North Dakota Humanities Council, launched the modern Chautauqua in America. It was expanded from the original traveling tent with one-person presentations to a group of five scholars who present historical characters in a first-person dramatic performance.  Each scholar performs one evening presentation in character and two daytime workshops from the scholar’s own perspective. This was the start of a new movement, resolving the dilemma that faced many humanities organizations: how to make it possible for scholars to interact with the public in an open and accessible forum.

The Oklahoma Chautauqua returned to Lawton in June 2008. By 2012, the Lawton Chautauqua Committee decided to bring the evening performances inside because of the extreme hot weather. The City Hall auditorium was decided on as a perfect venue.