“Ramona” History, Drama, and Love in the San Jacinto Valley

“Ramona” An Exhibit based on California’s Official Outdoor Play

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Western Science Center in cooperation with the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre is pleased to announce a special limited engagement exhibit celebrating the legacy of the Ramona Pageant, the official outdoor play of California, and the longest continuously running outdoor theatrical production in the United States

The play “Ramona”, established in 1923,  is a story of love, tragedy, and the clash of cultures in California’s historic past. The exhibit features costumes, props, artifacts and programs from the historic pageant.

The “Ramona” exhibition will celebrate the history of this iconic California play, and explore the social, political, and cultural context that inspired the novel written by Helen Hunt Jackson, published in 1884.

Western Science Center expresses our sincere gratitude to the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre for their generosity in coordinating the artifacts to create this very special exhibit depicting the history of the San Jacinto Valley, while documenting California’s official outdoor play.

Below is an Excerpt from the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre Website of the history behind the play:

“Since 1923 “Ramona” has delighted audiences of all ages. Entering the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre for a performance of “Ramona” is like taking a journey back through time.

“The natural landscape of the Ramona Bowl remains almost as it was during that first performance, April 13, 1923. The romance and the tragedy of Ramona & Alessandro transfixes the crowd as they watch it unfold, offering a glimpse, though fictional, of the history of southern California.”

Helen Hunt Jackson was born Helen Maria Fiske in Amherst, Massachusetts on October 15, 1830. Already a successful travel writer, novelist and poet, a lecture in Boston in 1879 about the plight of the Ponca Indians excited the interest of Mrs. Jackson. Although she continued other writings, the plight of the American Indian became her primary concern. She wrote A Century of Dishonor in 1881 and sent a copy of it to each member of Congress.

“Since its publication in 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel, Ramona, has never been out of print. It has inspired popular songs, four motion pictures and the play in Hemet, founded in 1920 by the Hemet-San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce and dramatized by Garnet Holme. The play’s final performance of opening season in 1923 drew a crowd of nearly 2,000 and since then Ramona has been performed annually at the Ramona Bowl with only brief interruptions during the Depression (1933) and World War Il (1942). Ramona is the longest running outdoor drama in the United States and named the Official Outdoor Play of the State of California in 1993.”

source: http://www.ramonabowl.com/ramona.htm






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