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History brought to life in Chautauqua tour

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Key players from the Cold War era are brought to life this week in an unusual way to teach others about history. The Oklahoma Chautauqua tour has made a stop in Lawton this week. The state's Chautauqua committee wanted to take a look at the start of the Cold War because it has been 60 years since the end of World War II.

Lawton is the last stop for these group of scholars, who each get an evening to perform as if they were that character in history.

One of those characters was the infamous Nikita Khrushchev, who was the Soviet Union’s premier during the beginning of the Cold War.

The scholar, Doug Mishler, convinced the audience that he was the tough communist ruler, and when he stepped on stage, he made you feel like you were a guest in the Khrushchev’s home.

"I’m Nikita Khrushchev, you do not know?" exclaims Mishler as Khrushchev.

A conversation with Khrushchev.

Here in Lawton to tell us his role in history, in his own way.

"We put Sputnik up in sky first,” said Mishler as Khrushchev. “1957. You have no rocket go in space. We have little ball, beep, beep, beep. Go flying. You Americans go crazy!"

What brought him here was the Oklahoma Chautauqua, a committee that plans a month long tour through the state. They have been to Altus, Tulsa, and Enid.

Committee member Frantzie Couch says they started in 2008, when people didn't know what Chautauqua was.

But today, she believes the audience has grown.

"I think we are beginning to build up a real fan base among Lawtonians,” said Couch. “They get very excited about it."

Some even come to see the veteran scholars, like Doug Mishler and James Armstead, who have been performing for decades. Tomorrow night, Armstead plays Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, who helped start the United Nations to bring peace after World War II.

He says it took him six months to prepare for this role.

"You have to know the period, know the character, and be able to answer questions,” said Armstead. “And you never know where a question in coming from."

The committee picked the scholars because of their knowledge of the historical figures, and their unique portrayal. At the end of the performance, the audience got to participate and ask the character questions. They get to do that all week with the characters!

See the Museum of the Great Plains Facebook post about the times for the rest of the week:

Next year the Chautauqua theme will be "Cowboys and Cattle Trails" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Chisholm Trail.

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