Knickerbocker to Host Screening of “Inventing America’s” Episode on the U.S. Bill of Rights on June 29

Two Hope Church members are involved with this production: Milt Nieuwsma as creator and writer and Perry Landes as lighting and sound designer.

HOLLAND – The Founding Fathers will return to the big screen at Hope College’s Knickerbocker Theatre on Friday, June 29, at 8 p.m. as they discuss the Bill of Rights during a free premiere showing of the third episode in the “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 who were centrally involved in the development of the document: 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, which was written and submitted to the states in 1789 and ratified in 1791. While imagined and presented as a retrospective, the conversation is based on fact, using the Founders’ actual words.

Audience discussion with members of the production team will follow the screening, with a reception taking place afterward. The episode runs about an hour and the discussion will be approximately 20 minutes.

“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 Milton Nieuwsma, a two-time Emmy Award winner, “Inventing America” is a co-production of Hope College and WGVU Public Media. The series seeks to tell the story of the American republic and apply the Founders’ ideas to the present time. The format is modeled after Steve Allen’s classic “Meeting of Minds” series, which aired on PBS from 1977 to 1981.

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 director of cinematography; and Zach Liniewski, a producer/director at WGVU, is technical director.

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.” The host and moderator is Dr. Fred Johnson, associate professor of history.

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.