FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              January 4, 2007

 

NORTHWESTERN’S WINTER CHAUTAUQUA TO FEATURE WILL ROGERS

Will Rogers reportedly never met a man he didn’t like and he hopes to meet a lot of men, women and children during Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Enid’s annual Winter Chautauqua.

         As portrayed by Dr. Doug Watson, Rogers will be making appearances at a series of events Jan. 19-20 on the Enid campus. Doug Watson as Will Rogers

         First will be a Brown Bag Lunch where Watson will discuss “Will Rogers: Oklahoma’s Native Son and World Citizen.” The lunch will be at noon on Friday, Jan. 19, in the Northwestern Boardroom.

            Watson will lead a workshop at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, (rescheduled from Jan. 20)also in the Boardroom, titled “Media Blitz: Will Rogers on Stage, on Screen, in the Papers, and over the Airways.”

         The main event will be the Chautauqua performance at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, (rescheduled from Jan. 20) in the campus commons area. In character as Rogers, Watson will present “Ropin’ Up the Good Times in Oklahoma.”

         In the Chautauqua format, Rogers will give an autobiographical sketch of his life while sharing some of his wit and wisdom. The audience will have a chance to understand this famous man who hailed from Oklahoma and shared his unique perspective as the world laughed along.

         Admission to all the events is free, and the public is invited to attend.

         Individuals who want to earn one hour of college credit in part for attending the Chautauqua and participating in the workshops should contact Dr. Cheryl Evans, dean of Northwestern-Enid and project coordinator for Winter Chautauqua, at (580) 213-3105 or at clevans@nwosu.edu.

         Watson is professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University and has been active in the Great Plains Chautauqua Society since 1991. His characterizations include Nathaniel Hawthorne and Stephen Crane, in addition to Rogers, whom he has been portraying since 1998.

         He has played in Chautauqua settings nationwide and on C-Span, not only as a “one-man show” of Will Rogers, but often answering tough contemporary questions in pure vintage Will Rogers. More about Watson and his Chautauqua performances may be found at www.watsonswill.com/cowboy.html.  Information about Will Rogers and the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore is available at www.willrogers.com.

         Rogers is perhaps the best known Oklahoman of all time. Born in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what is now Oologah, he first became known in wild west shows and vaudeville as a trick roper. He started mixing in jokes and witticisms with his roping and soon became renowned as a folksy and extremely intelligent philosopher.

         Rogers went on to become a star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s. He was a popular broadcaster and newspaper columnist who traveled the world and was a friend of presidents, senators and kings. He died, along with fellow Oklahoman Wiley Post, in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935.

         Chautauqua was founded in 1874 on Lake Chautauqua in western New York. Programming first focused on training Sunday school teachers, but quickly expanded its range. The popular format was copied across the country as independent Chautauquas, often called assemblies, sprang up. The goal was to offer challenging, informational and inspirational stimulation to rural and small-town America.

         While lecturers were the backbone of Chautauqua, music also was a staple and “theater” later made an appearance.

            In the early 1900s, touring Chautauquas were formed with a firm cast of performers traveling from location to location. At its peak in the mid-1920s, circuit Chautauqua groups appeared in more than 10,000 communities in 45 states to audiences totaling 45 million people.

            The Winter Chautauqua is presented by Northwestern with the support of the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of the humanities. OHC joins with local organizations to encourage the life of the mind, creating lifelong learning through reflection and discussion of literature, history, philosophy and other disciplines.

         OHC is the designated agency for the National Endowment for the Humanities in Oklahoma. Local co-sponsors of this year’s event include the Enid Chautauqua Council, the Greater Enid Arts & Humanities Council and the Sons and Daughters of the Cherokee Strip.

-NW-

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