Courtesy Holdredge Collection, San Francisco Library History Center, San Francisco Public Library





Musical Chautauqua


Dr. Bibbs' touring presentations include

1) A multimedia talk with music on The Hyers Sisters (activist divas of the 1880's) and

2) Works on Mary Ellen Pleasant, Mother of Civil Rights in California (1817-1904) -- a) her acclaimed one-woman chautauqua (enactment) --dramatic or musical, b) film screenings at which Dr. Bibbs can speak and/or do a book/DVD signing, c) workshops/masterclasses on performing the "Negro" spiritual.

All are exciting and participatory history! To book your presentation: Email:

Brief Descriptions:
(Email for a complete list of needs and price)

Two lengths: 26 min or 1 hour, Susheel Bibbs portrays Pleasant; Ruby Dee narrates. Both versions have won awards. The one-hour version airs on PBS. Both use Pleasant's own (long-lost) words, montage, enactments, interviews, archival photos, archival footage, and interviews.

The acclaimed Chautauqua*
Susheel Bibbs portrays Pleasant, using Pleasant's own (long-lost) words. This one-woman enactment is designed for adults and/or family audience. It has three parts -- 1) Bibbs, in character as Pleasant tells her life story in Pleasant's own words, unfolding the mysteries and daring achievements of her remarkable life, 2) the character answers questions from the audience about Pleasant's story, 3) the scholar (Susheel) answers questions on Pleasant. The chautauqua does is very transportable

Basic Needs: a well-lit stage area, wireless lavaliere mike, 2 chairs and a table, a quick-change dressing area near the stage, a well-lit dressing room with water, coat rack, and full mirror; an onsite emcee and a helper for set up.

* A musical version (involving other artists) can be booked. It adds period slides, live drumming, and song to an already inspiring evening.

A Talk-show format, designed for teens, presents the chautauqua in TV talk-show form, using a host-storyteller, a question/answer format, video, slides,and music. Guests on the show are Bibbs as Pleasant and Bibbs as herself -- the Pleasant scholar! In between there can be live drumming or storytelling!

Below you will find a sampling from the email and letters of historians, presenters, and attendees about Susheel's presentations of Pleasant.

"It was my pleasure to witness your performance [Los Angeles]...I am also a one-woman show performer with African -Am. history as content....Thank you for a clear, focused, indepth, compelling view of Mary Pleasant." Maisha Hazzard, Ph.D., historical enactor/Los Angeles

"I want to mention again how much I enjoyed your presentation. I hope I donąt sound like a broken record,but your presentation and telling of the tale made her story quite memorable and exciting" Rochelle Shaposhnick, VZS Films, LA (CA)

Here's what noted historians had to say when they certified Susheel and her research for inclusion in the California Council for the Humanities "History Alive!" program.

"Your research is extraordinary" Shirley Ann Moore, Ph.d., California State Univ., Sacramento

"Captivating, spellbinding presentation... Bibbs has done an amazing yeoman's job of historical research! She is MEP "Bravo!" Rick Moss, Ph.D., Los Angeles' Afro-American Museum

"This should be a model for those who aspire to do chautuaqua." Dr. Hundley, Historian, UCLA

"Your chautauqua presentation was outstanding, and it was obvious that you have, indeed, researched Ms. Pleasant's background and significant historical contributions a great deal. I believe we all came away with increased sensitivity for this important person in our State's past as well as her impact on the present and future. It also served to clear up some misconceptions about Mary Ellen Pleasant in the minds of some who were fortunate to observe your performance. The preparation, both physical and mental, that goes into such a performance certainly must require a tremendous commitment on your part. But the result was so gratifying, and attests to your talents, as well as your knowledge of this remarkable woman." Robert Elsner, Executive Director, California Sesquicentennial Commission

"Last evening I went with high spirits, and I carried the emotional and intellectual rewards emanating form your wonderful chautauqua on Mary Ellen Pleasant. The extraordinary care, scholarship, preparation, and talent thatyou have invested in this presentation are evident and a great gift to those fortunate enough to see you perform. Personally and as a member of the CA Humanities Council, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to appear at the Huntington Library." Christine Sisley, Exec. Director of the Parsons Foundation (LA Chautauqua at the Huntington Library)