History morphs into theater with “Dreamers & Schemers: An Evening with Great Floridians,” set for 6 p.m. March 18 at the Broward County Library Main Branch in Fort Lauderdale.
The event uses actors recreating famous figures from Florida’s history in a presentation that’s equal parts stage craft and historical reenactment, according to Janine Farver, executive director of the Florida Humanities Council, which organizes the show.
The figures: railroad magnate Henry Flagler (1830-1913), writer and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) and Florida Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward (1857-1910).
“It’s a work of theater but completely based in history and fact,” Farver says from her office in St. Petersburg. “These performers are actors as well as scholars. They develop their scripts by themselves. They do the research. It’s a palpable and entertaining way to talk about history.”
The council has three similar programs crisscrossing the state, always in ensembles of three — created last year to help commemorate the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon landing on the east coast and claiming Florida for Spain.
The program usually lasts about an hour. Each actor does a 15-20 minute monologue, then the audience gets to “talk back to them” while the actor answers in character, Farver says. It can also lead to lively debate between the characters. The theme of this performance is how the lure of tourism and industry has always been at odds with preserving the natural beauty and unique ecosystems of Florida.
“[Napoleon Bonaparte] Broward was a controversial governor,” she adds. “The first thing he wanted to do was drain the Everglades. And when you’re there, you hear his reasons.”
This, of course, would fly in the face of Douglas, a staunch defender of the Everglades.
And Flagler, she says, “was a hero in his day with his railroads and hotels bringing tourism to Florida. But we might look at him a bit different now. He might be a bit of a schemer.”
IF YOU GO:
What: “Dreamers & Schemers: An Evening with Great Floridians”
When: 6 p.m. March 18
Where: Broward County Library Main Branch, 100 S. Andrews Ave., first floor, Fort Lauderdale
Contact: 954-357-7443 or FlaHum.org.