PHOTO/THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN: McAvoy Lane, who has been performing as Mark Twain for more than 30 years, headlines the bill at the Dangberg Ranch in June.

Aspiring Chautauqua performers are invited to attend a two-day workshop in Douglas County this month taught by local and nationally-known Chautauquans, followed with performances by Mark Twain and Henry VIII.

Chautauqua is a living-history presentation in which scholars perform in character as historical figures. Actors present a first-person monologue about their characters’ lives, concluding with questions from the audience that are answered by the character. Performers then step out of their roles and answer audience questions as the scholars who researched the characters’ lives.

The workshops, scheduled June 25 and 26 at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historical Park, 1450 Nevada Route 88 in Minden, are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on June 25 and 26.  The classes include training in the various aspects of Chautauqua scholarship and performance.

Chautauqua 101, the workshop scheduled June 25, is an introduction to the genre. Historian Debbe Nye will give a presentation about the history of Chautauqua. Authentically researching a character will be discussed by author and writer Karen Dustman. All aspects of costuming will be presented by DebiLynn Smith, and Chautauquan Kim Harris will speak about showmanship and the preparation needed to bring characters to the stage.

Chautauqua 201, scheduled at 9 a.m. June 26, is a more in-depth look at character development and performance techniques taught by two nationally-known Chautauquans. Doug Mishler, who has taken on the personas of more than a dozen characters in Chautauqua festivals around the nation, will present “The Art of Creating the Dead.” Frank X. Mullen, who has been performing as historical characters for 20 years (and is RN&R editor), will present “My Lives as a Chautauquan.”

DETAILS AND REGISTRATION: Registration for Friends of Dangberg members is $30 1-day/$50 both days; non-members registration is $45 1-day/$75 both days. Contact to request a registration form, or for more information. Adults and children ages 14 to 17 are welcome at the workshop; however, minors must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is due Wednesday, June 15 and must be accompanied with payment. Early registration is encouraged as space is limited for each day. 

On June 26, Nye also will give an expanded presentation on the origin and evolution of Chautauqua and two break-out groups are offered: hands-on assistance in research with Karen Dustman and Debbe Nye; and costuming assistance with DebiLynn Smith and Kim Harris. Workshop attendees will receive materials relating to each presentation, a certificate of completion, a pass to attend 2022 Dangberg Summer Festival’s Chautauqua remaining evening events, and entrance to the 1 p.m. Chautauqua performance for the workshop day they attend.

Admission to the performances that are included in the registration package also are open to the public. On Saturday, June 25, from 1 to 2 p.m. McAvoy Layne, “The Ghost of Mark Twain,” will perform in character as the American humorist and author. On Sunday, July 26, from 1 to 2 p.m. Frank X, Mullen will stalk the stage as the infamous King Henry VIII.

“We are hoping this workshop will be beneficial to all who are interested in bringing historical characters to life.” — Kim Harris, Dangberg Ranch event manager and Chautauqua scholar.

Funding in support of the workshop has been provided in part by a grant from Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dangberg Summer Festival events are sponsored by Douglas County, Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation, Carson Valley Accounting, D & B Cabinets, Tru North Wealth Management, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, Douglas Disposal & Recycling Service, Edward Jones Investments – Tim Cleveland, Hone Company, and Kaiser Genoa Property, LLC.

The park is located at 1450 Hwy 88, ¾ mile south of the high school and roundabout. The ranch house is currently open for visitors 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Groups may also reserve the park’s events tent, with picnic table seating for up to 60 people, along with optional interpretive presentations and building access. Details: or email

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