Remember the beginning of Family Feud, when the families stood frozen in those geeky poses, just before they were called to come on down and "start the Feud"? That kind of frozen moment is an actual dramatic technique known as the tableau vivant. The tableau vivant, French for "living picture," got more play during the 19th century, in public spaces as well as private parlors. It involves a group of actors' remaining motionless and silent while portraying a scene from history or art while a narrator explains the visual. In honor of the Fourth of July, the National Park Service and the Old Court House present Our Inalienable Rights and Freedoms: A Series of Six Tableaux Vivants at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday in the Court House rotunda. The Independence Day tableaux depict the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
In addition to the living statues, visitors to the Old Court House will see actors delivering orations as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Patrick Lee of Ashland, Mo., who also has experience playing Daniel Boone, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, portrays Jefferson at 1 p.m. Monday and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday. Dr. Gene Griessman promises humor, philosophy and Lincoln's own words when he inhabits the role of the Great Emancipator at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The actor is also the author of The Words Lincoln Lived By.
The Court House also presents the music of Saxton's Cornet Band of Lexington, Ky., at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; noon Monday; and noon and 2 p.m. Tuesday. The group strives for historical authenticity by including brass and percussion instruments only, in the style of Civil War-era brass bands. The sounds from the instruments are directed "over-the-shoulder," back at the troops who would march behind the musicians. The Lincolnland Brass, a subunit of the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America hailing from Illinois' Scott Air Force Base, also performs at noon Friday.
The Court House is dressed up for the occasion with an antique 33-star 36-by-20-foot flag suspended from one of the balconies, as well as displays of Victorian-era patriotic decorations.
All Fourth of July events at the Old Court House, 11 N. 4th, are free. Call 314-655-1600 or TTY 800-735-2466 for more information.