Campus News

“Founding Fathers” to Discuss Developing the “Bill of Rights” on Dec. 8

Audience members can again experience both history and television in the making during the filming of Episode Three of “Inventing America: Conversations with the Founders” on Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Hope College in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

The public is invited to the one-time performance.  Admission is free, although advance tickets are recommended.

The episode, “Liberty for All: The Untold Story of the Bill of Rights,” being filmed by WGVU Public Media, will feature a “live” interview and Q&A session with four of the nation’s Founding Fathers who were centrally involved in the development of the Bill of Rights:  Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

The program will reveal how the conflicts and infighting behind the ratification of the U.S. Constitution led to the Bill of Rights, which was written and submitted to the states in 1789 and ratified in 1791.  While imagined and presented as a retrospective, the conversation will be based on fact, using the Founders’ actual words.

“Liberty for All: The Untold Story of the Bill of Rights” continues a journey through the development of three documents crucial in the creation of the United States.  The first episode, “Making a Nation,” focused on the Declaration of Independence, and the second, “Making a Government,” on the United States Constitution.

Hamilton, Henry, Jefferson and Madison will be portrayed respectively by Hal Bidlack, Richard Schumann, Bill Barker and John Douglas Hall, whose experience in the roles exceeds 20 years each.  Barker will be reprising his portrayal of Jefferson in “Making a Nation,” and Bidlack and Hall will be returning after previously appearing as Hamilton and Madison in “Making a Government.”  The host and moderator will be Dr. Fred Johnson, associate professor of history.

“Inventing America” was created by Holland resident Milton Nieuwsma, a two-time Emmy Award winner, to tell the story of the American republic and apply the Founders’ ideas to the present time.  The format is modeled after Steve Allen’s classic “Meeting of Minds” series, which aired on PBS from 1977 to 1981.

The first two episodes were also filmed at Hope, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.  They were subsequently distributed to PBS stations nationwide via the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA).

The producer is Dr. Marc Baer, professor emeritus of history, and the executive producer is Dr. Darell Schregardus of Davis, California, who like Nieuwsma is a 1963 Hope graduate.  The director is John K.V. Tammi, professor emeritus of theatre and founding artistic director of the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT).  Perry Landes, associate professor of theatre, is lighting and sound designer; Phil Lane, director of content at WGVU, is director of cinematography; and Zach Liniewski, a producer/director at WGVU, is technical director.

Tickets are available at the ticket office in the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.).  The ticket office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., at the former 12th Street at Columbia Avenue.  Nearby parking includes college lots accessed from Columbia Avenue north of 13th Street; from 10th Street between Columbia and the railroad tracks; and from 13th Street between Columbia and the railroad tracks.