A Chautauqua Interview: Mary Ann Jung (Rosalie Stier Calvert)
We hope you enjoyed our recently posted Q&A with Alan Gephardt (who portrays Francis Scott Key). Chautauqua, MHC’s popular free living history performance series begins July 5 at Garrett College! Michele Baylin, MHC’s Communications Manager, also spoke with Mary Ann Jung, who will portray Rosalie Stier Calvert at the McHenry, Elkton, Easton, and La Plata locations.
- View Ms Jung in a sneak peek of her performance as Rosalie Stier Calvert on MHC’s YouTube channel.
- Click here to view and print a 2012 Chautauqua Schedule.
(MB) How long have you been appearing as Rosalie Stier Calvert? What drew you to her?
(MAJ) I wrote the Rosalie show in 1998 after reading “Mistress of Riversdale” by Margaret Law Callcott. Her letters home to her family in Belgium were so captivating and full of derails on life on a Maryland plantation in the early 1800′s I knew she’d be a perfect window into the War of 1812. I love that she’s an arrogant aristocrat who hated Thomas Jefferson, and Dolley Madison. It makes her very human and teaches people that historical characters didn’t all get along. Students are especially shocked when I say I hate Jefferson and I love it when they gasp! I want to bring history alive and this is one fun way to do it-by showing strong emotions.
(MB) How do you prepare for a living history performance? What (if any) is the biggest misconception the public has about your character?
(MAJ) It takes me 6 months to a year to research my character, write a script, find the right costumes and props and then memorize. Daily prep means putting on the right costume, hairdo, accent, and attitude for the show.
The biggest misconception about Rosalie is that because she was wealthy she was a lady of leisure-far from it! She had 2 big plantations to run, her own Riversdale and her husband’s, Mt Albion. That meant supervising in total over a hundred servants and slaves while raising and teaching her own, large family of nine children.
(MB) Is there another historical figure whom you’d like to portray?
(MAJ) Only about a million fascinating women! But I have to choose on what audiences will want to see. I also pick people who aren’t from periods I’ve already covered. I want to do a female scientist next like Rachel Carson or Marie Curie since the emphasis in schools is on science now.
(MB) There is a Q&A which follows your performance. What’s the most interesting question (or oddest) you’ve been asked about Rosalie Stier Calvert? Is there a question you’ve always expected but never been asked? How do you feel about this component?
(MAJ) The most interesting is “Did she know about her husband’s slave mistress Eleanor Beckett and family?” She never mentions them in her letters but I don’t see how she couldn’t have known.
I can’t think of a question I haven’t gotten-I’m pretty thorough in the show! Q & A can be as much fun and a surprising as the show itself. My 33 years of improv performing starting at the MD Renaissance Festival and then in my own shows over 25 years come in handy in both!
Mary Ann Jung (Rosalie Stier Calvert) is the award-winning actress behind History Alive! Interactive shows. She has been a lead actress and Director of Renaissance History and Shakespearean Language at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for over thirty years. She is a Smithsonian scholar/performer and has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, and Good Morning America. Jung’s living history performances include Julia Child, Clara Barton, Mistress Margaret Brent, Rosalie of Riversdale, Amelia Earhart, Good Queen Bess, and Rosie the Riveter. She has a B.A. in British History from the University of Maryland.