COSHOCTON -- Ohio Chautauqua, presented by the Ohio Humanities Council, will be in Coshocton July 7-11 presenting Journey Stories. Debra Conner, from Summerville, S.C., will be among the five-person troupe and she portrays Edith Russell, a Titanic Survivor from Cincinnati.
Conner began her career as a Chautauqua performer in 1997 after receiving a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop a first-person portrayal of Emily Dickinson. She has since developed a variety of other characters including Margaret Mitchell, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Civil War surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker.
"This will be my tenth tour with Ohio Chautauqua," said Conner. "Besides Ohio, I've also been part of tours throughout most of the Eastern and Midwest states including Missouri, Florida, New Hampshire, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and South Carolina."
Conner says this character, Titanic Survivor Edith Russell, is a relatively new character for her to portray. Edith Russell made her debut last summer with Ohio Chautauqua. "It takes roughly a year for me to prepare a new character," explained Conner, "but the process is on-going. Many Chautauquans - including me - say that it take three years to become 'fluent' in a portrayal."
"Many in Coshocton will remember Debra Conner here with Ohio Chautauqua in 2011 as the Civil War surgeon, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker," said Jan Myers, Director of the Coshocton Visitors Bureau. "She was also here in 2013 as Margaret Blennerhassett of Blennerhassett Island."
Edith Russell will take the stage under the Ohio Chautauqua tent located at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds, 707 Kenilworth Ave. on opening night for Ohio Chautauqua in Coshocton on Tuesday, July 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Prior to her performance, there will be musical entertainment by Wildwood & Friends at 6:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
Debra Conner will offer a youth workshop entitled 'Carried Away' for youth ages fourth grade and up at the Coshocton Public Library, 655 Main St., at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 8. Her Adult Workshop on 'Titanic Surprises' will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, at Central Ohio Technical College, 200 N. Whitewoman Street, Coshocton.
Conner knows the audience and workshop participants will learn more about the Titanic story. "Initially, I worried that the story was too familiar," stated Conner. "What could I add that wasn't known? But I made many discoveries. There's more to the story than you ever imagined. In addition, I end my on-stage portrayal by offering the audience members a chance to reflect on their own lives, just as Edith did. Why are we here? What can we contribute? I won't give away too much, but Edith's story is about more than that tragic night."
Along with Edith Russell, the other characters who will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. under the Ohio Chautauqua Tent during the week of July 7-11 are: Kevin Radaker as Henry David Thoreau; Dianne Moran as Olive Ann Oatman, a white captive of the Indians; Hank Fincken as 1849er J. Goldsborough Bruff; and Marvin Jefferson as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Each of the scholars will also lead free workshops (which are not done in first-person) for both youth and adults throughout the week. The youth workshops are appropriate for youth ages ten and older. The workshops are held at the Coshocton Public Library and will be held at 10:30 a.m. each day from July 7-11. The adult workshops will take place at 2:00 p.m. each day at Central Ohio Technical College.
Sponsors and contributors to the Ohio Chautauqua in Coshocton include The Coshocton Foundation, Montgomery Foundation, Simpson Family Foundation, Coshocton Village Inn & Suites, Central Ohio Technical College, Annin Flagmakers, and the Coshocton Public Library.
There is no charge to attend the evening performances or the daytime workshops.
For information about The Ohio Humanities Council and Ohio Chautauqua, visit www.OhioHumanities.org.
For information about Ohio Chautauqua in Coshocton, contact the Coshocton Visitors Bureau at 740-622-4877 or 1-800-338-4724. A complete schedule of the Ohio Chautauqua events in Coshocton is available at www.VisitCoshocton.com/events.