The Chautauqua tradition in America harks back originally to New York State in the late 19th century. Bringing music, religion and politics to local audiences, Chautauqua assemblies became mainly noted for gathering impassioned speakers, debaters and learned individuals under one tent, thus functioning as a kind of educational adjunct, filling in the gaps the media or higher learning of the day might not. But it was entertainment as well, and with that in mind, the New York-based National Theatre of the United States of America (NTUSA) brings its version of the circuit Chautauqua to Vanderbilt as a part of the Great Performances series. Besides NTUSA's skilled, award-winning ensemble of seven, Vanderbilt eggheads get into the act, including sociologist/journalist/Scene contributor Bruce Barry, Spanish lecturer Chalene Helmuth and veteran actor and emeritus theater professor Cecil Jones. The vaudeville aspects of the evening will be handled by members of Vandy's Juggleville team, with sword-swallowers and Hula Hoopers reputed to be making guest appearances.
Thu., Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m., 2008