A week for History Lovers: Day two

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Rachel Faulkner writes, Well, I promised to keep you posted throughout the week on the High Planes Chautauqua.

Well, I promised to keep you posted throughout the week on the High Planes Chautauqua. Unfortunately, due to weather, the events scheduled for last night were canceled in the steady downpour of rain and tornado warnings. However, I did manage to speak with David Fenimore, who will portay Horace Greeley later this fascinating week. We met at the Border’s cafe in Greeley along with many other history lovers. During that time, Fenimore took questions about Greeley for about an hour of “Coffee and Conversations”. After the session was over, I spoke with him privately. He said that in 1994 he was asked to portray Greeley in a traveling program not unlike our own Chautauqua, where he was for four years. “I studied Greeley from 1994 – 1997, when the tour ended,” recalls Fenimore. “Then I ‘put him on the shelf’ and kind of forgot about him for ten years, until last year, when the people here asked me to preform.” As a professional, does he have any tips for future Chautauquans? Fenimore laughs and spills secrets every young performer has to know. He recommends that you should choose a character who “has something to say today”. “I used to preform the simple biographies,” he continues, “you know, with the whole, ‘I was born in 1811…’ but that’s a little boring.” He says that to be a good Chautauquan, you have to know a lot about your character. “Ask yourself, ‘If I really was this person, what would I say? Pick a character with beliefs.” He also hinted that the internet is not the best place to look for information on your topic. “You have to force yourself to go to libraries and look for letters and diaries from your character.” He calls this work ‘detective work’. In closing, he tells young Chautauquans to not worry about your costume too much. “It’s better to have a second rate costume and a first rate presentation than a first rate costume and a second rate presentation.”