Napoleon Kicks Off Exciting Year During Winter Chautauqua Festival
Nationally acclaimed historical interpreter Mark Schneider, who has portrayed "Napoleon" at Colonial Williamsburg as well as internationally and onscreen, performs for three events at the Winter Chautauqua Festival February 1-3, 2019, in Greenville.
Winter Chautauqua kicks off the 2019 theme of "It's Revolutionary," with Napoleon as its centerpiece. Who better to encapsulate an idea of revolution than one of the most recognized military strategists in history? Of Napoleon, Schneider states, "I jokingly say I've been preparing for this role my whole life. My mother is French and my father is American. When I was about 2-years-old, I received some toy soldiers - Napoleon and several of his imperial guardsmen. And as my mother says, 'The rest is history.'"
The longer Chautauqua "History Comes Alive!" festival in June 2019 will introduce Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Malcolm X, Jacqueline Kennedy, and "Hamilton's Women," the Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Eliza and Peggy, to Upstate audiences. All of these characters either lived through a revolution of some kind (political or otherwise) or represented a revolutionary way of thinking, as in the case of Malcolm X and Andrew Jackson.
If Winter Chautauqua is an appetizer to the theme of revolutionary personalities, the summer festival is a veritable feast. The ten-day, multi-site, multi-performance festival attracts thousands of audience members from across the state and beyond.
The format of a Chautauqua performance takes the audience to another time and includes an approximately thirty to forty-minute monologue by the performer, followed by a question and answer session with the audience and the character. The character can only answer questions within his or her lifetime. After that, the performer 'breaks character' and answers audience questions as an expert on that character. "The audience is as much of the show as the performer is," says Caroline McIntyre, Greenville Chautauqua office administrator and performer. "Often our greatest insights are from the interaction of the audience with these characters."
States Sally Potosky, Chautauqua Board Chair, "We are especially excited this year to bring stellar performers to the Upstate to portray characters we believe will spark a huge amount of interest and audience debate. Starting with Napoleon, then the fervor of Hamilton, the sentiment of Jackie Kennedy, and the controversary of Andrew Jackson and Malcolm X, we expect record crowds at our 2019 festivals."
With the exception of the Winter Chautauqua Opening Night Gala on Friday, February 1, all other festival performances are free to the public. The Opening Night Gala will be held at the Younts Center for the Performing Arts in Fountain Inn, SC, from 7pm-10pm. Tickets are $50 per person and will include a performance by Napoleon (Mark Schneider), French-themed food and wine, and a performer meet-and-greet reception following the performance.
Other Napoleon performances will be held at 2pm on both Saturday, February 2, and Sunday, February 3, at the Wade Hampton High School auditorium. These performances are free and have historically 'sold out,' causing standing-room only sized crowds. The Sunday February 3 show will be sign-interpreted.
The Napoleon History Comes Alive! shows can only be seen in February 2019. Napoleon will not appear at the June Festival.
Mark Schneider (Napoleon) Schneider, a historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, is not only a consummate student of history, but also a skilled actor. His mother was French and his father American - so he's fluent in both French and English! He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University, where he majored in history and performed on the equestrian team. He then volunteered for the Army and served as a Cavalry scout stationed in Germany and Bosnia. He happens to have an uncanny resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte. Because of this resemblance and his skill at portraying the emperor, he is often engaged by the Napoleonic Society of America and the Napoleonic Alliance to perform at conferences and anniversary celebrations around the country and has performed internationally as Napoleon in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain. He appeared in the Jubilé Imperial in Paris France as well as the official Napoleon for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibit, Napoleon: Power and Splendor. Mark has appeared in the Netflix documentary "Being Napoleon" and made a cameo appearance in the 2018 French film, "L'Empereur de Paris," as Napoleon himself.