Chautauqua Series


Declaration of Independence


The San Juan College Chautauqua Series brings history to life through guest speakers and actors who tell the stories of people who lived through the defining days of our region and our country.

All Chautauqua performances are free and open to the public. All performances begin at 7 p.m. (with the exception of a 2 p.m. matinee performance on September 26) in the Little Theatre.


Title of Program
August 28
Calamity Jane
Leslie Joy Coleman
September 25
Bess Truman
Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann
September 26
Mamie Eisenhower
Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann
(2 p.m. matinee)
October 9
Georgia O’Keeffe - Cancelled
Deborah Blanche
November 13
James Ohio
Pattie Stephen Dixon
March 18
Ernie Pyle
B. G. Burr
April 15
Icons/Symbols of our Regional Heritage
Diana Molina
May 27
Lena Horne
Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley


View Expired Events


For further information, contact Dr. Jimmy Miller at 334-9325 or San Juan College Box Office at 566-3430.

August 28, 2015 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Calamity Jane By Leslie Joy Coleman

No woman in the annals of Western history so captured the imagination as Martha “Calamity Jane”
Cannary.  Dime novels created a fictional heroine with scant resemblance to the woman who wore masculine attire, worked, drank and swore like a man, frequented saloons and worked as a bullwhacker, laundress and cook.  Unfortunately, dime novel tales were confused with facts and grew larger in the telling.  Over a century after her death, Calamity is still a subject of controversial stories about her life on the Western frontier.  This piece presents what is “known fact” as well as demonstrating her tendency to overstate some of her more exciting adventures.  It is highly entertaining, with both laughter and tender tears, and shows what “women’s liberation” looked like over a century ago.

Leslie Joy Coleman is an experienced actress from Albuquerque who brings several western characters to life through the Southwest Rural Theater Project.

September 25, 2015 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Bess Truman By Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann

“Wild About Harry” explores events in American history and changes in American culture and the political landscape over 50 years from the perspective of an unelected insider.  Bess appears from the vantage of her final week as first lady in 1983, conducting her last White House tour for a group from New Mexico (her audience).

Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann has been creating and performing historical characters for 20 years.  She founded Woman Chautauqua Institute at Cottey College.  Her characters have been presented at the National Archives, six presidential libraries, and at museums and arts centers across the country.

September 26, 2015 2:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Mamie Eisenhower by Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann

Mamie Doud Eisenhower was born in Boone, Iowa in 1896 and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Denver and Colorado Springs before meeting her future husband, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in San Antonio in 1915where he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston.  She married the young lieutenant nine months later and followed him around the nation and world as his Army career advanced.  The Eisenhowers purchased the first home they ever owned in 1948,  a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Following the Presidential election of Eisenhower in 1952, she served as first lady until 1961 when the couple retired to Gettysburg. Mamie died in 1979, outliving her husband by ten years.

Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann has created and performed historical characters for over two decades, presenting them at presidential libraries, the National Archives, museums, theaters and Chautauqua events around the nation.  “Mamie Eisenhower” is her first creation.

October 9, 2015 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Cancelled Georgia O’Keeffe Up Close and Faraway by Deborah Blanche

“Who am I?  What do I have to say?  How can I best express it?”  The artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1996) continually probed these essential human questions.  Prominent in the male-dominated art world of New York City, O’Keeffe took a residence in New Mexico in the 1930s.  During the seven decades of her career she challenged herself with “what to say” that was uniquely her own.  Her colors might be bright and vivid, or black and white.  Her subjects were landscapes, buildings, flowers, bones, shells, leaves, trees, cityscapes, skulls, skies, clouds, doors, and various combinations and abstractions of them.  All were rendered in her own stylized images in a wide variety of mediums, while she honed an image of herself as private, independent, solitary and mysterious. 

This Chautauqua’s intentional suspension of time invites the audience to have its own experience of O’Keeffe through her photographs, her words, and the language that she preferred and perfected – her art.

November 13 , 2015 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

James Ohio Pattie Stephen Dixon

James Ohio Pattie (1804-1850) was one of the very few 19th century mountain men in New Mexico  who  was literate enough to keep a diary which would eventually be published as The Personal Narrative of James Ohio Pattie in 1831.  This work remains in print today as the most accurate depiction of the life of the mountain man in the Southwest He was twenty when he arrived in Santa Fe where with his father and other traders and trappers.   While in Santa Fe, helped rescue the daughter of the governor of New Mexico that won him a Mexican trapping license.  Pattie trapped along the Gila and Salt Rivers.
Stephen Dixon lives in Albuquerque and has participated in historical re-enactments throughout New Mexico and the Southwest.  He recently auditioned his “James Ohio Pattie” character for inclusion in the New Mexico Humanities Council’s Chautauqua program.  He is happy to present this new character to a San Juan College audience. 

March 18, 2016 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Ernie Pyle – Bringing the World to America’s Doorstep” by B. G. Burr

Ernest Taylor “Ernie” Pyle (1900-1945) was born and raised in Indiana.  He joined the U. S. Naval Reserves at age 17 during World War One, serving three months of active duty.  After he completed his reserve service he attended Indiana University where he began his journalistic experience on the student newspaper.  He left before finishing his degree, but soon had a position at the Washington Daily News, where he became managing editor.  Pyle became a columnist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain where he worked for the rest of his life as a roving correspondent.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War Two.  President Harry Truman noted “No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it to be told.  He deserves the gratitude of his countrymen.”  Pyle died on April 18, 1945 from Japanese machine gun fire on a Pacific island northwest of Okinawa.

B. G. Burr is an active member and officer in the Historical Society of New Mexico and has written and presented a number of history papers to a variety of audiences.  His character of Pyle was recently accepted into the New Mexico Humanities Council’s Chautauqua program.

April 15, 2016 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Icons/Symbols of our Regional Heritage by Diana Molina

Diana Molina is a professional photographer and writer who resides in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley.  Her sociological essays have appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Elle, Esquire, National Geographic Traveler, Vogue, Texas Highways and New Mexico Magazine. 
Her traveling exhibits have shown in venues that include the World Museum of Art in Rotterdam, the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C., the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, the Albuquerque Museum of Natural Science and History and the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.  This presentation will incorporate many of her photographs and representations from her traveling exhibits, as well as recent research she has done for a New Mexico humanities Council grant.

May 27, 2016 7:00 PM
San Juan College Little Theater

Lena Horne By Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley

In 1933 beautiful, 16-year old Lena Horne began dancing at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem.  She went on to become the first African American woman to sign a contract with a Hollywood studio.  Fighting discrimination from whites and blacks, she won acclaim for her distinctive singing style and a Tony for her Broadway show at the age of 65.  Her life was truly grace amid “Stormy Weather.”

Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley is a popular vocalist, having appeared in numerous community, church and jazz events.  She is also a popular storyteller who has performed in many venues.


For more information, please call Kay Tentler at (505) 566-3465. Or send us an email at