Pageants in Charlotte

During the first half of the 20th Century three elaborate pageants were staged to portray early historic events occurring in Charlotte and Mecklenburg.
 
Pageant of Charlotte and Old Mecklenburg
The first and most elaborate of these dramatizations was performed to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. A pageant entitled The Pageant of Charlotte and Old Mecklenburgwas written by Thomas Wood Stevens, a prominent writer of that period who was engaged for the purpose. It was presented for five nights, May 18-22, 1925, in an amphitheater planned by Earl S. Draper and built for the occasion in Independence Park, Charlotte.
 
The pageant presented nine episodes in the history of Charlotte, beginning with Indian settlements as found by the earliest settlers and concluding with the last meeting of the Confederate Cabinet in Charlotte, April 18-26, 1865. The cast consisted of between 200 and 300 men and women and included some of the city's most prominent citizens. The federal government appropriated $15,000 toward the cost and President Coolidge appointed a large committee of senators, congressmen and other important men and women who attended the pageant and witnessed the parade on the morning of May 20, 1925. Subsequently, this pageant was published in an attractive book and sold widely.
 
Shout Freedom!
Shout Freedom!, a symphonic drama in two acts, was presented on the Southern States Fair Grounds, near Charlotte, by way of celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1948. This pageant was presented nightly May 20 through June 3, except Sunday, and attended by large audiences from all over western North and South Carolina. Sponsored by a group of patriotic citizens who formed a corporation entitled Mecklenburg Historical Society, Shout Freedom! was written by LeGette Blythe.  The music was composed and directed by Lamar Stringfield; the stage settings were designed by Kenneth Whitsett; and the stage directing was done by Thomas B. Humble.
 
The pageant commemorated, by dramatization, the stirring events comprising Charlotte history from 1768 until 1781. Mr. Norman Cordon acted as narrator and the cast comprised 210 men, women, and children, including a group of Indians from Pembroke State College and vicinity. Officers of the corporation were Joe L. Blythe, president; George M. Ivey, Sr., vice-president; R. E. Kerr, treasurer; Dr. J. S. Dorton, executive director, and Charles Dudley, secretary.
 
Voice in the Wilderness
Voice in the Wilderness, an outdoor play with music, song, dancing, and pantomime, was staged at the Southern States Fair Grounds, near Charlotte, June 14, 15, 16, and 19, 1955, in commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Presbyterianism in the region of Mecklenburg County. It is the story, in dramatic form, of the rise and growth of Presbyterianism locally. The play was written by LeGette Blythe and produced by a cast of more than 400 men, women, and children. More than 20,000 persons attended the performances. This pageant was recorded on film and subsequently published as a book in an edition limited to 512 copies.

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