The Founding Fathers will return to the big screen at Hope College’s Knickerbocker Theatre for a final time on Friday, June 29, at 8 p.m. as they discuss the Bill of Rights during a free premiere showing of the concluding episode in the three-part “Inventing America” series.
The public is invited. Although admission is free, tickets are required.
The episode, “Liberty for All: The Untold Story of the Bill of Rights,” features a “live” interview and question-and-answer session with four of the nation’s Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
The program reveals how the conflicts and infighting behind the ratification of the U.S. Constitution led to the Bill of Rights. While imagined and presented as a retrospective, the conversation is based on fact, using the Founders’ actual words.
Audience discussion including a three-member panel will follow the screening. The panelists will be Juanita Bocanegra, assistant Ottawa County prosecutor; Dr. Fred Johnson, associate professor of history at Hope and “Inventing America” host; and Dr. David Ryden, professor of political science at Hope. Dr. Marc Baer, professor emeritus of history at Hope, will moderate.
The episode runs about an hour and the discussion will be approximately 20 minutes.
There will be a reception afterward.
“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.
Created by Holland resident and 1963 Hope graduate Milton Nieuwsma, a two-time Emmy Award winner, “Inventing America” is a co-production of Hope College and WGVU Public Media. All three of the episodes were filmed at Hope by WGVU Public Media, in December of 2014, 2016 and 2017 respectively in the college’s DeWitt Center main theatre, and the first two also premiered at the Knickerbocker. Both “Making a Nation” and “Making a Government” were distributed to PBS stations nationwide via the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), which has also shared “Liberty for All: The Untold Story of the Bill of Rights” for broadcast in conjunction with the Fourth of July holiday.
The producer of “Liberty for All: The Untold Story of the Bill of Rights” 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 WGVU’s show producer; and Zach Liniewski, a producer/director at WGVU, is director of cinematography.
Hamilton, Henry, Jefferson and Madison are portrayed respectively by Hal Bidlack, Richard Schumann, Bill Barker and John Douglas Hall, whose experience in the roles exceeds 20 years each. Barker reprised his portrayal of Jefferson in “Making a Nation,” and Bidlack and Hall returned after previously appearing as Hamilton and Madison in “Making a Government.” Johnson and Hope students posed the inquiries during the episode’s question-and-answer segment.
WGVU-Life and WGVU-HD will be showing all three episodes in the series between June 25 and July 9: “Making a Nation,” on June 25 at 9 p.m. on WGVU-Life and July 8 at 3 p.m. on WGVU-HD; “Making a Government” on July 2 at 9 p.m. on WGVU-Life and July 15 at 3 p.m. on WGVU-HD; and “Liberty for All” on July 1 at 3 p.m. on WGVU-HD, on July 7 at 4 a.m. on WGVU-HD and on July 9 at 9 p.m. on WGVU-Life.
Free tickets for the June 29 showing at the Knickerbocker Theatre may be obtained in advance at the ticket office in the college’s Events and Conferences Office, with any remaining tickets available at the door. Located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center at 100 E. Eighth St., the office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.
The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St., between College and Columbia avenues.