News Column

Portsmouth's history to be incorporated in performance

June 3, 2014

By Joseph Pratt, The Portsmouth Daily Times, Ohio

June 03--As part of the lead up to Portsmouth's bicentennial, in 2015, Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association (SOPAA) and Shawnee State University (SSU) are issuing a call for suggestions of an event or person from Portsmouth's history to be included in the October 9 performance of "First Person: Seeing America."

"First Person: Seeing America" is a multimedia performance featuring two actors reading first person accounts from America's history, while images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's photo collection are projected behind them. These accounts can be in the form of letters, diary entries, Lincoln's Gettysburg address and more. These elements are accompanied by music performed by Ensemble Galilei. Video of the performance may be viewed online at

Ensemble Galilei has agreed to include a story and images from Portsmouth's history in their performance.

Suggestions will be collected until June 27 and may be made by emailing Vern Riffe Center for the Arts (VRCFA) Director Joe Patti at or by posting on the Vern Riffe Center Facebook page at

The event/person chosen for inclusion will be based both on number of suggestions and the ability to find images and first person accounts from that time period.

For a quick reminder of important events and people in Portsmouth's history, the VRCFA suggests that people swing by the floodwall murals or visit the historical department in the Portsmouth Public Library.

"We're looking for just general ideas," Patti explained. "People first mentioned the flood, but now we're getting people suggesting ideas from our atomic background, war material factories and train routes. We could focus on America going to war, with pictures of troops leaving and women working in the shoe factories. People are already e-mailing and telling us they have photos of family members working in the factories and whatnot. Finding a topic isn't the hard part, ensuring we have material is."

Patti organized many cultural pieces relevant to the history of the community at his previous position in Hawaii. Patti has also hosted this show in the past, and after a successful run, decided it was a good fit for Portsmouth while it nears its bicentennial.

"I thought that this would be a good idea, as a sort of kickoff to the bicentennial and to get people thinking about our history," Patti said. "I also think it is very helpful for the community, to be excited to have something from its own history in this show and maybe, if it has enough significance, they'll keep it in the show."

First Person: Seeing America is sponsored by Scioto Foundation. The 2014-2015 season is presented with the support of the Ohio Arts Council, The Shawnee State University Development Foundation and Scioto Foundation.

Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times at 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.


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Source: Portsmouth Daily Times, The (OH)

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