Thomas Harriot Lecture
ms. lebame houston
A Briefe and True Report of The Lost Colony Drama in the New Found Land of Virginia
March 24, 2011
We don’t know much about what happened to Sir Walter Raleigh’s famous lost colony. But 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 the 2011 Thomas Harriot Lecture, presented through the Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series.
On March 24, at 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium, Ms. 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 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.
Written and produced specifically for this occasion, houston will narrate and direct a sequence of vignettes 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,” including the internationally recognized and multiple Tony-award winner William Ivey Long, one of the most decorated costume designers working on Broadway today.
No one has had a better perch for understanding the history of the drama. Ms. houston was born into and grew up in the “Lost Colony”family. Her mother spent 57 years as executive secretary and bookkeeper for the organizations that originated and sponsored the popular outdoor drama.
Ms. 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. Currently, houston serves as the historian for the Roanoke Island Historical Association. For the past seven years, in her biggest role to date, 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.
In addition to serving as historian for the Roanoke Island Historical Association, houston is a prodigious researcher on the Raleigh explorations and settlements on Roanoke Island. In persistent research forays to London and through county and parish archives in England, she has documented much about the colonists sent by Raleigh to the Carolina coast. At St. Martin Ludgate Parish she discovered the marriage records of the artist and colonial governor John White. At St. Clement Danes she discovered the marriage records of Ananias Dare and Eleanor White, two principals of the lost colony saga.
In addition to her work as historian, houston has a wealth of theater experience. She has directed more than 100 stage plays ranging from Shakespeare to American musicals in locations across the United States and to various locations around the world, including Edinburgh, London, Florence, Paris and Rome. In recent years she has written and presented a variety of one-act plays performed during the summers in and around Manteo, including “Elizabeth R,” “Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen” and “Shepherd of the Ocean.”