Clay Jenkinson

Three Events

As Meriwether Lewis
As Sir Walter Raleigh
Shakespeare, the Magic of Words

Meriwether Lewis
Monday March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn, Kitty Hawk

Tickets $15

Sir Walter Raleigh
Tuesday March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Sound Stage at the Lost Colony, Manteo,

Tickets $15

Shakespeare, the Magic of Words
Wednesday March 27, 7:30 p.m
First Flight High school, Kill Devil Hills

Tickets $15

Tickets available at the door for all performances

Free tickets are available for Dare County students
Contact us for more information

Tickets available online and at: -

Duck's Cottage Coffee & Books in Duck
Downtown Books in Manteo
Grays Dept. Store in Kitty Hawk
Sea Green Gallery in Nags Head

Clay’s personal notes on Sir Walter Raleigh

Raleigh (1554-1618) was only one of my characters who was beheaded! He was the very definition of a “Renaissance man.” He was a dashing soldier, an Elizabethan privateer, a colonizer of Virginia, a friend of Sir Philip Sidney and the patron of Edmund Spenser, one of Queen Elizabeth’s four principal courtiers, a writer of admirable poetry and prose, an explorer of South America, and one of the most important state prisoners in the history of England.

My Raleigh speaks from the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned from 1603-1616 for treason by King James I. It’s difficult to discern just what his crimes were from our perspective, but he was a great favorite of Queen Elizabeth and he made it clear when she died on March 24, 1603, that he would prefer the thrown not be cast away on a Scotsman who was the son of the late Mary Queen of Scotts.

Raleigh was the mastermind of England’s intended colonization at Roanoke in today’s North Carolina. He gave the name of his new world discoveries “Virginia” after his patron, the Virgin Queen. In 1595 he attempted to find El Dorado, the fabled city of gold somewhere along the Orinoco River in South America. He found no gold, but the account he wrote of his adventure, The Discovery of Guiana (1596) was a classic of exploration literature.

Raleigh is a larger-than-life figure around whom much legendary material has accumulated. He may—or may not—have thrown down his cloak (the most expensive thing he owned) to enable Queen Elizabeth to walk safely over a puddle. He probably was not doused with a bucket of water when his servant failed to realize that the smoke coming out of his mouth was from tobacco not a clothing fire. He may or may not have scratched love verses to Elizabeth on a windowpane at Windsor Castle.

Clay Jenkinson meets Yoric in Shakespeare, the Magic of Words

Interview with Clay Jenkinson about Shakespeare, the Magic of Words. Video

Clay’s personal notes on Meriwether Lewis

Lewis was my first Chautauqua character. He’s fascinating on so many fronts. When he was keeping his journal, he was easily the most interesting writer of the expedition, by magnitudes. He regarded himself as the Enlightenment’s personal emissary in the American West. His relationship with Clark is complex, nuanced, and ultimately tragic. His attitude towards American Indians is essential for any understanding of that vexed subject in American history. Sometimes I fantasize about having been a member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, to have seen Montana in 1804 when hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of bison grazed the plains in a tense equilibrium with elk, grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves, pronghorn antelope, and prairie dogs. (Of course, I would almost certainly have been a copy clerk back in Philadelphia, and probably could not have held up for more than a few days given the physical demands of the journey). Lewis had a rich, somewhat odd, sense of humor, which I try to explore in my dramatic interpretations.

Clay Jenkinson on Shakespeare the Magic of Words.

This 90-minute performance features recitation of great mo

ments in Shakespeare, commentary, biographical details, discussions of the great Shakespeare themes, and a practical guide to overcoming “Shakespeare intimidation.” Witty, probing, and funny, Clay provides an evening of insight and laughter in his one-man program, an unforgettable tribute to the life and work of the greatest writer in the English language.

Reading Hamlet for the first time as a freshman in college changed the whole trajectory of my life. During my time at Oxford I saw 34 of the 37 Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet nine times. Although I somehow slipped through the back door and became an amateur historian, my great love has always been Elizabethan and Jacobean literature. This program gives me the opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s genius at the prime of my life as a public humanities scholar.


“Clay was funny, poignant, thoughtful. It’s a lot of fun to spend the evening listening to Clay ruminate.”

— Rick Kennerly

“What a wonderful evening … charming, informative and entertaining. I’m inspired to go back and take another look at the Bard’s plays, first through films and then by reading some of his plays again. I’m sure future audiences will love this show as much as we did in Norfolk. I heard nothing but positive comments from people leaving the Roper Theater.”

— ‎David George

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Our Mission

The Bryan Cultural Series strives to inspire, educate and challenge through presentations of the visual, literary and performing arts.
The series will offer high quality programming from regional and national talent.
Programming for each category will be curated by persons familiar with the respective field.
The Series strives to be a cultural destination for residents and visitors alike
Funding comes from sustaining patrons, sponsorships, grants and admissions.

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