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Keene Chautauqua Programs Announced

The Keene Public Library is pleased to announce the 2012 Keene Chautauqua programs, which will be held this June at the Keene Public Library and the Horatio Colony House Museum.  A month long series of events focusing on themes of community culminates on Thursday June 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Heberton Hall when actors take the stage as New England authors Sarah Orne Jewett and Henry David Thoreau.

The first event called “Familiar Fields: The Power of Community in the Work of Sarah Orne Jewett” takes place on Tuesday June 5:00 at 7:00 p.m. at the Keene Public Library, 60 Winter St.  This program by Pontine Theatre’s Co-Artistic Directors, M. Marguerite Mathews and Greg Gathers, is based on the life and work of the 19th century New England author Sarah Orne Jewett. The presentation explores issues of community as reflected in Jewett’s stories. Pontine Theatre, a two-person ensemble, is well known for a large body of innovative original productions that celebrate the history and culture of New England. 

Theodora Sarah Orne Jewett was born in 1849 in South Berwick Maine. The stories and novels that were to make her famous are set in the southern tier of Maine, especially the seacoast area, where she lived most of her life. Her literary reputation rests upon more than 170 works of fiction, most of which depict the lives of the ordinary people of nineteenth-century rural Maine. Her life began in the age of horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships and ended in 1909, in the era of the automobile and the telephone.

On Wednesday June 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Horatio Colony House Museum, there will be an informal discussion of Jewett’s The Country of Pointed Firs. The museum is located at 199 Main St. Parking is at the rear of St. Bernard's Church adjacent to the museum.  A Thoreau discussion will be held on Wednesday June 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Horatio Colony House Museum.   The book Walden, or, A Life in the Woods will be discussed.

The main event takes place on Thursday June 28 at the Keene Public Library from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Henry David Thoreau is portrayed by Kevin Radaker and Sarah Orne Jewett is portrayed by Betty Jean Steinshourer. Radaker is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. Since 1991, he has presented his portrayal of Thoreau over 400 times throughout the United States. Betty Jean Steinshouer has spent 22 years on the Chautauqua circuit performing as Sarah Orne Jewett as well as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Willa Cather.  The doors will open at 6:00 p.m.  Those that come early will be treated to the music of Allison and Hunt.

Finally, the Young Chautauqua performances will be held on Saturday July 7 at 11:00 a.m. at the Keene Public Library.  This year 18 young people have been working with Lisa Blankemeyer, an Families in Transition AmeriCorps *Vista member serving at the Keene Public Library to research, write, and create monologues which will be performed on stage on July 7.

Chautauqua is a joint project of the Keene Public Library, the Horatio Colony House Museum, and the Historical Society of Cheshire County.  This year’s Chautauqua programs are part of the library’s Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion programs, which has been made possible through a grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute. Additional funding was provided by the New Hampshire Humanities Council.

All library programs are free and open to the public.  For more information about the library’s Chautauqua program, please call the library at 603-352-0157.