Durango Chautauqua September 20 - 21

Living History Portrayals of Presidents Who Changed the West

Programs will take place at the Durango Arts Center, 802 East 2nd Avenue, Durango, 81301. Doors open at 6:30.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 7 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson
Portrayed by Steve Edenbo


Thomas Jefferson is an American titan who led by charisma and conversation, rather than by coercion. As president, his dinners were personal and intimate, with cuisine created by an internationally-known French chef, after which wine was served and the discussion was then turned to the political. The first United States Secretary of State, the second Vice President, the third President, Jefferson considered these roles as burdens placed upon him. Jefferson was most proud of penning the Declaration of Independence, fathering the University of Virginia, and shepherding the Statute of Religious Freedom: Jefferson considered these achievements his gifts to America.

Steve Edenbo offers his audience Thomas Jefferson's gifts with eloquence. Mr. Edenbo shares Jefferson's love of reading, writing, and good wine, as well as a love of the outdoors and the need to balance intimate friendships with solitude. Created for Independence National Historical Parks, Edenbo's program, A Wolf by the Ear, clarifies Jefferson's feelings about slavery, "We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other." Another program, The Constitution Experience, pairs Edenbo's Jefferson with Alexander Hamilton, AHT's Ian Rose, and dramatizes the conflicting ideas espoused by the two men.

While earning his BA from Dickinson College, Steve Edenbo's focus was research and writing; however his theater experience included improvisation, and training in voice and singing. Mr. Edenbo was introduced to American Historical Theatre in 1999 by AHT Associate Producer Kim Hanley, He bases his interpretation of Thomas Jefferson on the insight that comes from years of reflection, for which he was awarded a Research Fellowship at Monticello in 2008 by the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Mr. Edenbo also has the honor of interpreting Thomas Jefferson at Philadelphia's Declaration House, a re-creation by Independence National Historical Parks of the building in which Jefferson lived and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Edenbo is the only person invited to interpret Thomas Jefferson at this historic site.

Thursday, September 21, 7 p.m.

Andrew Jackson
Portrayed by Bob Gleason


"Old Hickory" as the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was known, was a man of fierceness and bravery, but one of controversy too.  He is known for dueling, defeating the Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and beating the British at the Battle of New Orleans, though he was unaware that the war was already over.  He was a polarizing figure who destroyed the national bank by refusing to renew its charter and was an avid enforcer of the Indian Removal Act which relocated most Indian tribes from the Southeast to west of the Mississippi River.

Jackson believed fervently in the cause of Independency and at the age of thirteen, joined a militia to serve in the Revolutionary War. However, much like many of our nation's founding fathers he was a slaveholder who at points was known to have as many as 300 souls in bondage working his plantations. During his service as a courier in the Revolutionary War, he and his brother were imprisoned and contracted small pox.  Though Andrew Jackson survived, his brother Robert perished just before their release was secured.  Shortly afterward his mother died and the orphan blamed the Brits for his losses.

He was a lawyer from a distinguished Southern family, who, though he supported limited federal government, worked to strengthen the power of the presidency, believing that the President spoke for the people, while Congressmen spoke only to narrow interests.  Following in this vein, as President himself he was known as a populist, who deferred to public opinion so much that he was known as "King Mob."

Bob Gleason was trained in theater by performing in 60+ productions at West Chester University, where he became almost a "cult figure." Mr. Gleason's acting was further enriched by his service as a Psychiatric Aide at Norristown State Hospital. A member of the Army's Special Services Chorus, Mr. Gleason shared his four-octave vocal talents as a goodwill ambassador touring the US and Germany.

Gleason terms his meeting with American Historial Theatre's William and Pamela Sommerfield as a turning point in his personal and professional life. In-depth historical research and audience interactivity have become hallmarks of Mr. Gleason's historical portrayals. Mr. Gleason has been featured at the White House Visitor's Center, Ford's Theatre, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, and many other locations of note.


Programs are free to the public (donations are gratefully accepted).

"Chautauqua" takes its name from the 18th and 19th century tent gatherings that brought together citizens to engage in thoughtful discourse on a variety of topics. Colorado Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is the only Colorado organization exclusively dedicated to supporting humanities education for adults and children statewide. Colorado Humanities helps support Durango Chautauqua programs that bring history to life with monologue and thought-provoking dialogues with audiences. In addition to Colorado Humanities, sponsorship is provided by the Durango Herald, and the Durango Arts Center.