Langston Hughes is back in Douglas County.
The American poet and writer who spent most of his childhood in Lawrence will be portrayed by Charles Everett Pace, of Texarkana, Texas, as part of the Famous Kansans Chautauqua that begins this evening in Baldwin City on the Baker University campus.
"It's a way of speaking through history and speaking to history," Pace said of his performances.
Other famous Kansans portrayed will be temperance movement leader Carry Nation by J. Karen Ray, a Washburn University English professor; legendary Kansas journalist William Allen White by Frederick Krebs, a humanities and social sciences professor at Johnson County Community College; and Kansas radio pioneer Dr. John R. Brinkley by William Worley, an adjunct history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The actors and moderator Richard Johnson just finished a Chautauqua last week in Medicine Lodge.
The Kansas Humanities Council works with communities to organize the Chautauqua, which is modeled after the traveling tent programs of the early 1900s.
The large white tent will be set up at the corner of Sixth and Grove streets on the Baker University campus. A "Meet the Chautauquans Ice Cream Social" begins at 6 p.m. today at the tent, sponsored by the Baldwin City Host Committee.
All events are free except for two lunches with performers on Friday and Saturday. The main attractions will be evening presentations by the actors.
The performers also have scheduled workshops on campus, and many other attractions in and around Baldwin City, such as the Black Jack Battlefield site and the Midland Railway, will be featured. During the performances, audience members have an opportunity to learn more about the historical figure and ask questions.
"History is linking the past, the present and the future," said Pace, who played Frederick Douglass in the Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua in 2004 in Lawrence.
Another attraction of this week's event is the StoryCorps Door-to-Door project in Baldwin City, where 16 area residents are scheduled to be interviewed. Kansas Public Radio is partnering with the humanities council and the Kansas Health Foundation on the project.
StoryCorps, the national oral history project, is featured regularly Friday mornings on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." KPR staff members plan to broadcast many of the interviews.
Organizers of the Chautauqua say it provides a unique atmosphere for entertainment and education.
"It's rare to have that combination in everything we do these days," said Tracy Quillin, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Humanities Council.
Famous Kansans Chautauqua
Today through Sunday
Sixth and Grove streets, Baker University
6 p.m.: Meet the Chautauquans Ice Cream Social
10:30 a.m.: "Tapping the Creative Power of Place: On the Road with Langston Hughes," by Charles Everett Pace, Mabee Memorial Hall, Room 100, 605 Sixth St., Baker University.
1:30 p.m.: "The Editor and His People: William Allen White and the Shaping of Public Opinion," by Frederick A. Krebs, Mabee Memorial Hall.
7:30 p.m.: Carry Nation by J. Karen Ray, big tent at Sixth and Grove streets.
10:30 a.m.: "Famous Kansans and the Search for Community," by Richard Johnson and Frederick Krebs, Mabee Memorial Hall.
7:30 p.m.: Langston Hughes, by Charles Everett Pace, big tent at Sixth and Grove streets.
1:30 p.m.: "Dr. Brinkley and American Country Music," by William Worley, Mabee Memorial Hall.
7:30 p.m.: William Allen White, by Frederick Krebs, big tent at Sixth and Grove streets.
2 p.m.: Dr. John R. Brinkley, by William Worley, big tent at Sixth and Grove streets.
For a complete schedule, visit www.kansashumanities.org. In case of bad weather, tent performances will be moved inside Mabee Memorial Hall.