Years ago I became Samuel Johnson for a couple of English teacher conferences. I still have the wig, vest, knee breeches, and puffy-sleeved shirt. I also have a couple of feet of books about Johnson (18th c. English wit, critic, and lexicographer). Ever since those Chautauqua style performances I have been sensitive to Johnson references. I find it easy to remember quotes, trivia, commentaries about him because I have a framework of Johnson knowledge from my previous studies.
This seems to be true of all the subjects of my Chautauqua studies. Bierce, Houdini, Hampton, Einstein, and now Churchill are perhaps best described a personal friends – at least acquaintances. And don’t we all pay special attention when the name of a friend comes up in conversation or on the news?
It is always possible that someone may want me to dust off a previously performed subject for some future performance, but that is not a certainty. Yet I still add to my book collections for them all. I still sort my incidental readings about them in light of the unique understanding of each that I obtained from my initial, intensive study.
I wouldn’t say that I am haunted by the ghosts of these successful and outspoken men I have portrayed, but I would say that I enjoy whatever time I can spend in their company.