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'An Evening with Phoebe Hearst' kicks off annual program at Firehouse Jan. 5

Museum on Main announces 2016 lineup for popular speaker series

Author Karen Harris portraying local wealthy philanthropist Phoebe Hearst is set to usher in the new season of the Ed Kinney Speaker Series "An Evening With ..." next month at the Firehouse Arts Center on Jan. 5.

The Museum on Main, which organizes the historical presentations, recently announced the full lineup for the 2016 speaker series, which will be the program's sixth season.

The 2016 series is set to consist of:

An Evening with Phoebe Hearst

On Jan. 5, Harris will take the stage as Hearst, known as the "fairy godmother" who made a lasting impact on the Bay Area and cities coast to coast. She was a philanthropist and benefactor to schools and museums, the first female regent for UC Berkeley, and co-founder of the organization known today as the Parent Teacher Association.

An Evening with Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr

Feared by Nazis and loved by U.S. bomber crews during World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen were an all-black squadron of fighter pilots. Led by Davis, the 99th Squadron and 332nd Fighter Group dominated the skies with their red tails. James Armstead will portray the four-star general during a Feb. 9 presentation.

An Evening with Ulysses S. Grant

Historian and author Frank X. Mullen will portray the former American president on March 22. Hear from the flawed Civil War hero about the Union Army's victory and helping the country through the aftermath of the war.

An Evening with Uncle Toisan

On April 12, writer, storyteller, musician and historian William "Charlie" Chin will be back to portray a Chinese-American character called Uncle Toisan, whose life spans the time from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the post-civil rights era and the emergence of Asian-American consciousness.

An Evening with John C. Harper

Chevron historian Harper will share his knowledge of the energy company's history from the establishment of the Pacific Coast Oil Company in 1870. Harper will discuss Chevron's growth from a San Francisco-based company to a global corporation and its impact in Bay Area communities on May 10.

An Evening with Golda Meir

Educator and historical impressionist Peter Small will portray former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on June 14. Meir was a politician who played an integral role in the development of Israel and leading her country during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. She was the fourth prime minister of Israel and the third woman in the world to ever hold that position.

An Evening with Emperor Norton

The series on July 12 will host Emperor Norton I, the wealthy eccentric San Franciscan, who in 1896, declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Joseph Amster, a tour guide, historian, author, chef and actor, will play the emperor.

An Evening with Nikita Khrushchev

On Aug. 9, actor and professor Doug Mishler will portray Khrushchev, the former Soviet Union leader whose domestic policy aimed to stop Joseph Stalin's repression and help ordinary citizens while his foreign policy was more aggressive and led the Soviet Union into tense Cold War conflicts, including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

An Evening with Julia Morgan

A female architect when the men dominated the field, Morgan developed a professional legacy in the Bay Area that has cemented her as one of the most famous and prolific architects of the 20th century. She will be portrayed Sept. 20 by historian and preservation planner Betty Marvin.

An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe

Actor and author Duffy Hudson returns by popular demand Oct. 11 to reprise his role as the poet Poe. Hudson will perform "A Shadow of the Raven," which begins as Poe rises from the scene of his mysterious death and continues as he pieces together the events of his life.

All Ed Kinney Speaker Series performances are set on Tuesday evenings to start at 7 p.m at the Firehouse Arts Center at 4444 Railroad Ave. in Pleasanton.

The program has two new corporation sponsors, according to Museum on Main officials: Chevron will be the presentation sponsor and Marriott Pleasanton will be a corporate sponsor.

Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the near-monthly presentations, including seven sellouts of the 10 shows, according to Sarah Schaefer, director of education for the museum and coordinator of the speaker series.

"This community continues to embrace the performance style, known as Chautauqua," Schaefer noted. "Chautauqua performances are a unique way for people, young and old alike, to engage with history and historical personalities."

"Actors bring historical characters out of the book or Wikipedia page and on to the stage providing the audience with a monologue as a historical character and then answering the audiences' questions as the character," she added.

For tickets or more information about the series, visit www.museumonmain.org or phone Museum on Main at 462-2766.

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