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Renaissance Woman and Cast of “The Lost Colony Drama” Present ECU Voyages Lecture

We don’t know much about what happened to Sir Walter Raleigh’s famous lost colony. However, we do know a lot about “The Lost Colony,” an outdoor spectacle that has dramatized the story for nearly three quarters of a century. This historic play, presented on the site of Fort Raleigh at Manteo since 1937, will be the topic for East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot Lecture, presented through the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series.

On March 24, at 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium, lebame houston, Elizabethan scholar, author, educator, playwright and all-around Renaissance woman, will present "A Briefe and True Report of The Lost Colony Drama in the New Found Land of Virginia."

Unlike previous lectures in the Voyages series, houston will portray the history of “The Lost Colony,” through film, characters, costume, music and dramatic sequences that have played a part in the drama over the past seven decades.

houston’s involvement with “The Lost Colony” began very early. Her first role in the play was as the baby Virginia Dare. Successively, she was a page for Queen Elizabeth and an Indian dancer in the play.

At the event, houston will narrate and direct a sequence of vignettes written and produced specifically for this occasion that will show how America’s favorite outdoor drama has evolved over time. Assisting her in presenting this innovative history performance will be four seasoned veterans of “The Lost Colony” drama, including the internationally recognized and multiple Tony Award winner, William Ivey Long, one of the most decorated costume designers working on Broadway today.

houston epitomizes the liberal arts in the various, diverse roles she has held throughout her life. In the field of education, houston worked with two history teachers at Goldsboro city schools to spearhead the design and implementation of a pilot project in the humanities that approached the study of history as evidenced through art, architecture, literature, music and theatre. At other times, she lectured on various aspects of the humanities, including Roanoke Island colonies and Shakespeare. 

In theater, she served as an educational theater specialist for the NC Department of Public Instruction – Theatre Arts Division. She has worked as a theater technician, has written hundreds of short scripts for educational use and has directed more than 100 stage plays in the United States and abroad.

Within the area of history, houston has combed through repositories seeking information about the Raleigh explorations and settlements of the Roanoke Island colonies. She has documented much about the colonists sent by Raleigh to the Carolina coast. Also, she has been an invited presenter at several scholarly conferences and a consultant on a number of TV history shows.   

Currently, houston serves as historian for the Roanoke Island Historical Association. For the past seven years, she has been creating an archive for the association, collecting, cataloging and preserving records and artifacts relevant to the history of “The Lost Colony” drama since its inception in 1937.

“My career has been and is the pursuit of adventure, knowledge and new discoveries. I tend to immerse myself in something of interest; stay with it until I have identified the path to success; then stop and move on to something totally different—always combining work and study en route,” said houston. “Three things have been consistent—an addiction to discovering more about 16th century London and Roanoke Island; a fascination with theatre and film; and a strong desire to use the latter to interpret the former.”

The Thomas Harriot Lecture is co-sponsored by the ECU Department of History. Complimentary tickets are available to ECU students, faculty and staff, and are $10 for the general public. Tickets are available by calling the ECU Central Ticket Office at 252-328-4788 or 1-800-ECU-ARTS. Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should call 252-737-1016 (voice/TTY) at least 48 hours prior to the event.

Established in 2007, the Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series advances the spirit of exploration and discovery that is the hallmark of the liberal arts. The series is made possible through contributions from the Dean’s Advancement Council of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and additional friends and supporters of the college. For additional information, contact Dr. John Tucker, director of the series, at 252-328-1028 or tuckerjo@ecu.edu, or visit www.ecu.edu/voyages.