High Plains Chautauqua announces 2016 program

High Plains Chautauqua will bring nine intriguing figures from history to the stage in Greeley Aug. 2-6. Chautauqua offers a unique blend of theatre, history, and the humanities under the big tent where audiences meet and engage in conversation with personalities from the past. The event takes place on the Aims Community College campus. All events are free and open to the public.

The 2016 festival theme, The Power of Inspiration, embraces leaders from western civilization who have been inspirational to others in art, literature, religion, politics, and social justice. These individuals have been inspired themselves by books, people, and dreams.

One of the most influential voices of Europe in the thirteenth century, St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), has inspired western art and literature, music and culture. His beliefs encompassed a passion for protecting and enjoying nature. He is thought by some scholars to have brought Europe out of the dark ages, giving birth to the Renaissance.

Considered one of the greatest artists of all time, Michelangelo (1475-1564) was the first person in history to simultaneously master the three visual arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Michelangelo’s paintings for the Sistine Chapel are perhaps even now the world's largest and grandest artistic achievement by one person.

English poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. It has been said that to speak the speech of Shakespeare is to embody the human soul in sound.

Catherine the Great (1729-1796) was the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 1762 until her death. She became one of the most influential of the 18th-century rulers, dominating her empire as easily as she did her court. The period of Catherine’s rule is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian empire.

An American Renaissance man, Thomas Jefferson (1742-1826) studied science, agriculture, and architecture. He believed the study of history was a method of ensuring the future that the past was continually relevant to the present. His belief in the right of self-government led to the establishment of meritocracy over aristocracy as a founding principle for the nation. 

Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet from the American Renaissance period. Best known for his classic epic Moby-Dick, Melville spent five years at sea onboard a whaling ship prior to becoming a successful writer. Melville proved that great literature could be written about people he called “mariners, renegades, and castaways.”

Abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, depicting the harsh life for African Americans under slavery. Still read today, the story challenges readers to confront America's complicated past and connect it to today's issues. Stowe's passion for writing allowed her to publicly express her thoughts and beliefs in a time when a woman could not speak publicly, much less vote or hold public office.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) was an American writer, activist, and feminist. A leading figure in the women's movement in the United States, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. Friedan founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966.

Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), was an activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

High Plains Chautauqua engages all ages. In addition to nightly performances, daytime programs for adults and hands-on activities for children are featured. Young Chautauqua scholars present their living history portrayals as a culmination of months of independent research.

High Plains Chautauqua is made possible thanks to the generosity of sponsors; individual donors; and many, many dedicated volunteers. For more information as the 2016 HPC program is developed, go to www.highplainschautauqua.org or call Visit Greeley (the Greeley Convention and Visitors Bureau) at 970-352-3567.