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History comes alive at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts


September 29


“First Person: Seeing America” will be presented on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 pm.

1st Person

The words, images and even music of those who have comprised our national and local history will be brought to life at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in "First Person: Seeing America."

With the approaching Portsmouth bicentennial, the creators of "First Person: Seeing America" agreed to include some moments from Portsmouth's history as well. Photographs appear on screen while a narrator speaks with music playing to create a mood.

Actors Lily Knight and Bob Berkey dramatize the words of Abraham Lincoln, Langston Hughes, Damon Runyan, John Muir, Frederick Douglass, Calamity Jane and others, accompanied by Celtic chamber music quintet Ensemble Galilei.

Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection including Matthew Brady, Walker Evans, WeeGee, Edward Stieglitz and Thomas Eakins are projected behind them to tell the story of the nation from the Civil War, Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, the immigrant experience on the gritty sidewalks of New York and beholding the majesty of Yosemite.

The piece of Portsmouth's history that will be showcased is the 1937 flood. Excerpts from letters from the flood that never appeared in the flood documentary, "River Voices," will be included in the performance. Accompanying the readings will be images from the Southern Ohio Museum of Art's Carl Ackerman collection.

Earlier this year, the community was asked for suggestions about the events in Portsmouth's history that they would most like to see included in the show.

"Thanks to the tireless efforts of SSU professor Drew Feight, we were able to send the performers dozens of items to choose from including letters of Henry Massie and Union soldiers during the Civil War," VRCFA Director Joe Patti said. "In the end, they chose from some letters John Lorentz provided us that never appeared in his flood documentary."

Tickets for lower tier seating are $35 regular admission, $31 senior, $27 students, $15 children under 12. Upper tier prices are discounted. Special discounts are available for families and groups.

Tickets may be purchased at the McKinley Box Office in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, online through Ticketmaster or any Ticketmaster Outlet, or by calling 740-351-3600. For more information, go to sopaa.org.

The 2014-15 Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association/Shawnee State University season is presented with the support of the Ohio Arts Council, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Shawnee State University Development Foundation, the Martings Foundation and the Scioto Foundation.

To see video excerpts, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwJQIurWC4Q.


Contact Information

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