Greenville Chautauqua – History Comes Alive Festival

Greenville Chautauqua’s 2021 History Comes Alive festival will be held September 3 – 12 at the Mauldin Cultural Center Outdoor Ampitheater and other venues. The festival features live performances by nationally acclaimed historical interpreters recreating the stories of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Hedy Lamar, and Rosa Parks. This programming was supported with funding from a Growth Grant from South Carolina Humanities, Funding for the Growth Grants has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Postponed from 2020, the 2021 Festival is a ten-day (two-weekend) festival of non-stop live history and fun for the whole family. The theme is “Reinventing America.” Events will be performed outdoors. In the case of inclement weather, the performance will be aired virtually. All events are free.

The schedule of events at the Mauldin Cultural Center Outdoor Ampitheater (101 City Center Dr, Mauldin, SC 29662) are below:

FRI 9/3        7pm Ben Franklin
SAT 9/4       7pm Thomas Edison | and 10am Rosa Parks
SUN 9/5      7pm Nikola Tesla
MON 9/6    7pm Rosa Parks | and 10am Thomas Edison
TUE 9/7      7pm Hedy Lamarr | and 10am Nikola Tesla
WED 9/8    7pm Thomas Edison | and 10am Ben Franklin
THU 9/9     7pm Nikola Tesla | and 10am Hedy Lamarr
FRI 9/10     7pm Rosa Parks | and 10am Thomas Edison
SAT 9/11     7pm Ben Franklin | and 10am Nikola Tesla
SUN9/12    7pm Hedy Lamarr

Additionally, there will be several performances in Brevard and Buncombe County, NC. Greenville Chautauqua will also be bringing the “Reinventing America” programs to seven Greenville County schools. A discussion series also be offered at the Upcountry History Museum to give attendees a chance to interact with the performers and learn more about the historical figures; these sessions are free but require registration:

For the first time ever, you can binge-watch all five Chautauqua History Comes Alive Festival “Reinventing America” shows and discussions virtually. The shows and discussions will be available from Monday, September 20th – Sunday October 3rd, midnight. They will NOT be available after Oct 3rd. Please note: The Hedy Lamarr show will be available for TWO DAYS only – Monday, September 20th and Tuesday, September 21st. (So you might want to view Hedy Lamarr first.)   View them here:  

Chautauqua is a unique form of historical entertainment. Historical interpreters dressed in costume will bring each character to life and speak in the character’s own words. The audience will then question the character, delving more deeply into the issues that have been raised. The replies will be historically authentic, based on research using letters, diaries, journals, and published writings. Finally, the interpreter will step out of character and answer audience questions from a critical, modern perspective. The character of Ben Franklin will be portrayed by Larry Bounds of Greer, SC; Thomas Edison will be performed by Hank Fincken of Indianapolis, IN. Nikola Tesla will be played by Ian Ruskin of Los Angeles, CA. Hedy Lamarr will be portrayed by Judith Kalaora of Boston, MA, and Rosa Parks will be played by Becky Stone of Fairview, NC. Complete performer bios are available on the website at:

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.