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Big, Bold, and Brave- A Presentation by PresentArts

May 10 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Big, Bold and Brave, by Judith Present, costumes by Maryann Johnson.   “Big, Bold and Brave – Men and Women Whose Imagination and Innovation Inspired Our World” showcases the stories of charismatic historical notables whose larger-than-life personas, vision and fearlessness had lasting impact on our lives.  In this production, you will hear directly from Louis B. Mayer – who built and defined the film industry, Earnest Shackleton whose adventures in the Antarctic are legend, Buffalo Bill Cody who brought the wild West to the world and Clara Barton whose experiences as a nurse on the battlefield resulted in the founding of the American Red Cross.

Clara Barton was a determined woman whose tireless efforts and innovations in the delivery of medical supplies and services during the Civil War brought the nursing profession to the forefront.  Her administrative skills and the empathy and the concern shown to her patients were healing influences on the soldiers she nursed. Her compassion gave the young men peace of mind, and they considered her an “angel of the battlefield”.  The idea of using a corps of female nurses educated in delivering the increasingly complex, technological care demanded by 19th century scientific medicine was revolutionary for its time. Clara took that experience and under her bold visionary leadership she founded the American Red Cross. Yet what few people know is that she was highly influential in persuading the US government to sign the Geneva Treaty – an act she considered her greatest accomplishment.

Louis B. Mayer He was a film producer and co-founder of Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios in 1924. Under his leadership, he built the most prestigious movie studio in Hollywood. Louis was an ambitious man who loved money and power and he made sure nobody took advantage of him. He ruled his actors with an iron fist which the actors resented – disliking his attempts to control their private lives. This was all done in Louis’ efforts to make sure the company was known for wholesome entertainment untainted by actors’ scandals.  In his demanding compliance he ruined actors and actresses – making and breaking them.  It has been rumored that he used the casting couch before Harvey Weinstein.  By 1951 the taste for movies changed and the company began to lose profits and Louis was forced out. He died in 1957 from leukemia at 72.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was a renowned Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and who became famous for his remarkable perseverance and survival.  He was a circumspect leader and a man who would never ask his men to do anything he would not do himself. He was good at improvisation, a man not afraid to throw away the rulebook or abandon plans if they were not working. These qualities are what helped his men return home after the sinking of expedition ship, the Endurance. Shackleton led them across ice, sea, and land with all the tools he could muster. He kept up his men’s moral by celebrating small, daily successes and made sure after leaving them on Elephant Island that he would return to rescue them.  He died at 47 on January 5th, 1922, and his last words were: “In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover, gem-like above the bay.”

Buffalo Bill Cody was an entertainment legend who had a love for the “wild western” life and used it to make his career in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He created his lionized persona by telling many truths about himself and many “embellishments”. His aim as an entertainer was to romanticize the frontier while leaving out all the tales of physical hardships, mosquitoes, blizzards, drunkenness, and the difficulty of clearing land for homesteading. Wolves and other dangers were never mentioned. Mark Twain termed Cody’s shows genuine “down to its smallest details.” Even General George Armstrong Custer’s widow endorsed its depiction of her husband’s “Last Stand.” But just how accurate was Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show nobody knows for sure. Dramatic action for him was the name of the game and he proved himself to be an excellent showman until moving pictures put him out of business.


May 10
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Phelps Mansion
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