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THE EDEN VALLEY STORY (A 40TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES)
as told by Bette Lou Higgins, Artistic Director

PART 1

Since we just finished our FORTIETH YEAR (!), and we specialize in telling the stories that others forget -- it seems like a good time to give a little history of our own so we don’t get lost! So I will begin a little time travel through the Eden Valley and hope you enjoy this story.

Back in 1976 everyone was celebrating the US Bicentennial. There were programs everywhere about our country’s beginnings. One of those was a travelling program sponsored by the National Park Service, THE PEOPLE OF ‘76. This was a “living history” presentation of the life in a town the day before the start of the Revolutionary War.

Now let me point out here that back then “living history” programs were very rare. Not many people knew what they were and fewer were doing them. For those of you who never actually experienced one, let me explain:

A setting would be arranged as a specific day in a specific time period in a specific location (say, April 18, 1775 in Lexington, Massachusetts). All the actors in the program would know only what happened in their world until THAT particular moment in time. There was no script, only an outline of “events” of the day. The “audience” would enter the setting (as in step back in time to THAT day) and talk to the actors as if they were just visiting them in town. It can get pretty complicated pretty fast as you can imagine, but you get the picture.

In any event, a friend of mine, Paul K. “Kem” Schneider and I were working at You Are Cabaret Dinner Theatre in North Royalton, Ohio when he heard a rumor that the then newly-formed Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area wanted to have a theatre in their park. He asked me if the rumor was true would I like to start a theatre with him. I said, “Sure.” So off we went to talk to the Park’s directors.

Well, though it turned out the rumor WAS true, it also turned out they didn’t own any land or buildings at the moment to actually put a theatre in.

Then they asked us if we had seen THE PEOPLE OF ‘76. We had never heard of it. So they sent us to see it and then asked us to come back afterward.

Off we went -- no idea WHY we were being sent there, no idea WHAT living history was, no idea about much of anything.

Continue to Part 2

Go to Part 3

Go to Part 4

Go to Part 5

 

 

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