29 July 2011

Ohio Chautauqua

Last week was a very busy week, and I didn't have a chance to blog about Ohio Chautauqua. I was so impressed with this company of actors/historians who performed under a tent at our county fairgrounds. It was their last week of performances for the summer, which is sad for you. I would much rather be blogging about something you have a chance to attend since it was so amazing. If you are a reader who lives in Ohio and hear of them performing in your area next summer, I promise you that it is worth it for you to attend. Plus, you can't lose since they don't charge anything to attend!

The basic concept is to entertain the masses in what would have been a traditional way 100 years ago. Communities would gather under the tent to hear the traveling entertainers perform. The theme for this year's Ohio Chautauqua performances was the Civil War since it is the 150th anniversary of it's commencement. Since Lukas wants to learn about the Civil War, what better way is there to begin our study?

We were not able to attend every night. In fact, we only got to attend one evening, and then Lukas and I attended a presentation at the library that was geared toward kids grades 4 and up. Harriet Tubman was on tap the night that we were at the fairgrounds, and she was amazing. I mean...A.MAZ.ING. She entered the stage in character. She involved the audience. She spoke and sang perfectly in the dialect that Harriet may have used. She was captivating, a very good actress. I was stunned when she eventually came out of character to field questions about Harriet's life and her vocal inflection, accent and dialect completely changed. She had her character mastered! We learned so much from her.

Saturday's presentation at the library was about Civil War soldiers. Lukas enjoyed it, and so did I. The most obscure thing that I learned is that tea can be pressed into gigantic bricks and then cut with a saw into tiny, soap-sized blocks which the soldiers used to make tea as they traveled. You can still buy tea like this in modern times, and I had no idea. Did you? I am an avid tea drinker, and I find myself wondering if it could possibly taste good, but I think it would be fun to try! Below is a photo of the gentleman who did the presentation, though he wasn't in character at the library.

Ohio Chautauqua was an awesome way to kick off our Civil War study. Next month, there is a Civil War encampment in the area that I am hoping we are able to attend. I'm super excited to study this era of history with our kids. It is one of the most intriguing eras of American history and, by far, my favorite to study and read about!

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