Starring Rosa Parks, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and Hedy Lemarr
June 14 – 17, 2021

Get ready to laugh, cry and flat out have a great time. Four different shows performed in costume by nationally acclaimed historical interpreters. 

Meet four amazing American game-changers – hear their stories – ask them how they re-invented their world. You’ll laugh – you’ll cry – you’ll have lots of questions. And they’ll be answered. Bring your stories. Share your experiences. Get inspired. Because it’s not just history – it’s personal.

  • Create a nation with Ben Franklin

  • Turn darkness into light with Thomas Edison

  • Smash the glass ceiling with Hollywood’s Hedy Lamarr

  • And demand your Civil Right with Rosa Parks

All Buncombe Chautauqua shows will be held at AB Technical College in the Ferguson Auditorium, , Asheville NC  | Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College | MAP

Tickets are $7 per show. All tickets are available only at the door. Groups that wish to be seated together must arrive by 6:30pm. Box Office opens at 6pm each show night. Cash or check only.

For more information, please contact:

Hedy Lamarr | portrayed by Judith Kalaora

Monday June 14 at 7pm — Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College | MAP
Music: TBA
Tickets:  $7— Box Office opens 6pm before show

Who would have believed that “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,” Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr, was a genuine ceiling-crasher scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, and made your cell phone, GPS, and Wi-Fi possible? But there’s no law that says an inventor can’t be beautiful.

She was the scintillating adolescent in Ekstase; the cunning wife who wrenched herself free from a dead marriage to a Nazi munitions mogul, the beautiful refugee who fled the Nazis to become a Hollywood movie siren, the Mark Zuckerburg-esque twenty-something brash enough to believe her inventions would upend the world. Perhaps the most important thing Hedy Lamarr reinvented was herself.

For all the girls, women, and anyone ever told they cannot do math, understand science, or change the universe, Hedy Lamarr will inspire you to continue your pursuit to reinvent your world.


Rosa Parks | portrayed by Becky Stone

Tuesday June 15 at 7pm — Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College | MAP
Music: TBA
Tickets:  $7 — Box Office opens 6pm before show

Sometimes when the status quo needs to be shaken up, it is necessary to take a stand. Other times, one must courageously take a seat. Rosa Parks is best known for being arrested for sitting in the wrong bus seat. But Parks was not an apolitical, middle-aged lady whose fatigue kept her seated. Hers was an act that radically changed America itself.

Founded on the opinion that human beings can be owned by others, America placed its democracy in the hands of free white landed males. It took a bloody Civil War before America abolished slavery. Soon after, Jim Crow laws, lynching and voter suppression changed it back into a nation where rights were brutally divided along color lines.

By the 1950’s a different America was emerging. Brown vs Board of Education ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. And a woman named Rosa Parks and a whole new concept of Civil Rights was about to reinvent American democracy.


Thomas Edison | portrayed by Hank Fincken

Wednesday June 16 at 7pm— Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College | MAP
Music: TBA
Tickets:  $7— Box Office opens 6pm before show

He was the classic Yankee tinkerer, quintessential workaholic, serial inventor, prolific genius, and overwhelming force of nature driven by compulsive creativity with a gift for turning big dreams into everyday reality. Nearly all his inventions came after thousands of experiments that failed but taught him something. (The only device that worked on the first try was the phonograph.)

Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents including the light bulb, phonograph, microphone, motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, stock ticker, and mimeograph – not including others, such as the X-ray fluoroscope that he left unlicensed for the benefit of medicine.

But perhaps Edison’s greatest legacy is as creator of the modern R&D laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ which he called an “invention factory,” where constant experimentation was the necessary prelude to discovery. He not only hatched a new culture of innovation, he reinvented the whole way we go about it.


Benjamin Franklin | portrayed by Larry Bounds

Thursday June 17 at 7pm — Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College | MAP
Music: TBA
Tickets:  $7— Box Office opens 6pm before show

Living in the Age of Enlightenment, Ben Franklin was many things: a printer, a postmaster, an ambassador, an author, a scientist, a founding father. Above all, he was an inventor, creating solutions to common problems, innovating new technology, new governments and even making life a little more musical. Franklin upheld science and intellect and reason – scandalous man!

Franklin helped invent and reinvent the American government as well as himself. He was a Loyalist who transformed into a patriot and founding father. He proposed the Albany Plan, mirroring the Iroquois. He drew up the Articles of Confederation uniting the colonies under the British Crown – and then he signed their Declaration of Independence. As the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he declared that the new government was a republic – if we can keep it.

Besides his experiments in electricity and inventions of bifocals, swim fins, the Franklin stove and the glass armonica, perhaps Ben Franklin should be best known for helping create a government with the flexibility to reinvent itself.


Buncombe Chautauqua is audience-powered.

Did you know Buncombe Chautauqua tickets sales (even when “sold out” as the shows often are) only cover less than half the expense? The rest is raised by a committee of local Chautauqua fans. You can support Chautauqua programs in Buncombe County, NC by clicking below. Your donations will be reserved for Buncombe Chautauqua events in Buncombe County, NC only and will still be tax-deductible through Greenville Chautauqua.

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