Chautauqua is coming to New Richmond

Actress Debra Conner, portraying Edith Rosenbaum Russell.
“I lived through a night of terror!” says a Titanic survivor.

After she survived the sinking of the Titanic, she had the story of a lifetime! Here is part of an interview with actress Debra Conner, portraying Edith Rosenbaum Russell, and Mark Calitri, Director of the Clermont County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau:

Mark Calitri: Edith, what can you tell us about the initial contact with the iceberg?

Edith: As I got out onto the promenade deck, I saw a large grey, what looked to me like a building, floating by. But that “building” kept bumping along the rail, and as it bumped it sliced off bits of ice [which] fell all over the deck. We just picked up the ice and started playing snow balls. We thought it was fun. We asked the officers if there was any danger, and they said, “Oh, no, nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all. Just a mere nothing. We just hit an iceberg.”

Mark: Edith, you wrote a letter while on the Titanic ending it with, “Am going to take my very much needed rest on this trip, but I cannot get over my feeling of depression and premonition of trouble.” It seems you were right. What was it you said when you were asked to climb into a lifeboat?

Edith: I was wearing a white woolen hobble skirt… and said “I’m a prisoner in my own skirt, I can’t even walk, much less…jump across the ocean into a lifeboat.”

After watching a living history performance at her local library, Debra Conner began to dream of doing the same thing.  In 1997, she presented her first performance as Emily Dickinson.  Since then, she has portrayed Jazz Age personality Zelda Fitzgerald, Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, and Margaret Blennerhassett, an aristocrat who emigrated to the Ohio frontier.  Debra has performed throughout the nation.  A native Buckeye, this popular scholar will begin her ninth Ohio Chautauqua tour in 2014.

Calitri’s also interviewed Marvin Jefferson, the actor portraying civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mark: Dr. King, what can you tell today’s youth about their place in society and how they make a difference?

Dr. King: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Mark: Will education help to lead our country become a better society?

Dr. King: The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

Mark: Dr. King, are you an extremist?

Dr. King: The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Chautauqua veteran Marvin Jefferson will portray Martin Luther King, Jr. for Ohio Chautauqua 2014: Journey Stories. Marvin began his career as a chautauqua scholar in 1997, and has since performed in living history programs across the country. In 2010, he toured the state as activist and actor Paul Robeson for Ohio Chautauqua: The 1930s; he presented Lewis and Clark expedition member York for When Ohio Was the Western Frontier in 2012 and 2013.

Come to New Richmond for these stories and more! Come to hear about Olive Oatman, a young girl taken by Indians; J. Goldsborough Bruff, a mapmaker who led a company of miners in search of gold; and Henry David Thoreau, author, philosopher, and nature enthusiast.

With each historical figure you will learn important truths about the human spirit that will entertain and inspire.

For more information on Chautauqua, visit