A Brief Interview with Jim Getty on Chautauqua
As a newcomer to the MHC staff, I wanted to learn a little more about Chautauqua. While my background is in the world of theater, Chautauqua was new to me. I had an opportunity to briefly interview Jim Getty, who will portray Abraham Lincoln at Chautauqua this summer, from July 5 – 13 at six locations around the state of Maryland and I thought that others might enjoy his responses.
Do you have a question for Jim or any of our other Chautauqua performers? Place them in the comment section and I’ll do our best to track down the answers. Or share what you experienced at past Chautauqua performances. Any favorites? What pivotal figures have you always wanted to see portrayed onstage? We’d love your feedback. I hope to see you there! – Michele Baylin, Communications Manager
(MHC) How long have you been performing with Chautauqua (here or elsewhere)? How did you first get involved with MHC and/or Chautauqua?
(Jim) I was contacted by Judy (Dobbs, Program Officer) to first present about four years ago. I have been contacted by other states but have been unable to work them within my schedule.
(MHC) How would you describe your Chautauqua experience as a performer? What is it like to portray a historical figure?
(Jim) I have wonderful memories of my six presentations in Maryland. Each organization in the respective venues has covered every detail and they have been so very accommodating. There is the foremost responsibility in the performance of an historical character to be accurate.
(MHC) What other characters do you portray? Is there a historical character to play whom you’ve always wanted to portray? Are there other places you perform these characters that we should know about?
(Jim) While I have been encouraged to present Captain Ahab or a New England Sea Captain, I have not. I have gone into such research but have found myself so busy as Abraham Lincoln that I couldn’t manage the inclusion. As Lincoln, I do quite a variety of presentations, including Leadership Programs for Departments within the Federal Government and the business community.
(MHC) What do you do to prepare for a living history performance? Does portraying a historical figure offer unique challenges? How does this differ from performances that aren’t of historical figures?
(Jim) Prep for presentations includes gathering information about the locale; significant personalities from the general area in that period who Mr. Lincoln might have known or have been in contact with; often political or military figures. Really, to learn everything you can about the significance of the location. One tries to prepare for the q/a session that follows each presentation.
(MHC) There is a Q&A which follows your performance. What’s the most interesting question (or oddest) you’ve been asked before? How do you feel about this component? Is there a question you’ve always expected but never been asked?
(Jim) I believe we have run a circle with the variety of questions asked of the President from folks of all ages. The most difficult thing for the presenter is to be able to offer the variation to a question asked by someone who has you in the wrong time-frame.
View Jim Getty’s bio and more information about Abraham Lincoln on the MHC website.