Alumni and Faculty mingling at President's house

Chautauqua Greenville What is Chautauqua?

Teddy RooseveltA Chautauqua performance is unscripted and spontaneous historical "improv.”  The performers are part scholar and part actor with extensive performance experience. Fascinated by their characters for years, they have a personal relationship with history.

Each performance is broken into three acts. In the first act, the performer represents a historical figure in the first person. In the second, the performer invites audience questions and answers them in character. In the final act, the performer steps out of character to answer questions that the historical figure could not (or would not!) have been able to answer.

It's not a Chautauqua performance without audience participation. Prepare to meet some incredible people.  Keep the questions and the conversation rolling!

Origin of the name Chautauqua
(pronounced Sha – TAW – kwa)


Chautauqua is a Native American word for a lake in New York where, from 1879 to the present day, the Chautauqua Institute has presented arts and education programs. Each summer from 1904—1932, the Institute went on the road. Chautauqua tent shows toured across America. In Greenville, Redpath Chautauqua setup their tent in City Park (now McPherson Park). Caught by the Great Depression of the 1930's, the tent Chautauquas disappeared—replaced by radio and movies. In the 1970’s national and state humanities councils revived Chautauqua. In 1999 Chautauqua returned to Greenville, SC; in 2000 to Asheville, NC; and 2009 to Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC Back tent

Chautauqua exists because …

We live in a community which recognizes that, to move forward, we need to know where we have been. In a culture where many forces seek to divide us, we need opportunities to come together to discuss the ideas, events and personalities that have shaped our identity as Americans. These programs are brought to you by a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time and talent, and a community that digs into its pockets to support this egalitarian experience where everyone can participate and interact with their history.

And now enjoy yourself—after all, this is your story.

Visit the Greenville Chautauqua Society for complete information.