The Reigning Belle of the Bluegrass Region

Rose Buckner performs her solo play The Reigning Belle of the Bluegrass Region.

Based on actual events, Reigning Belle is the story of a Kentucky woman, Olivia Buckner, who risked death threats and made national news by marrying a Japanese seminary student, Yutaka Minakuchi, in 1903 in Kentucky. The title -- taken from a newspaper article written about her at the time--is ironic, as  Olivia was the antithesis of a typical southern "belle." Olivia's family planned to kill Yutaka and so the couple fled to the east coast where Yutaka lectured on East-West relations on the Chautauqua Circuit. Racism and financial struggles ultimately led to divorce, with Olivia returning to Kentucky to raise their half-Japanese son (my father) as a single mother. Despite the challenges, Olivia embraced life with courage, humor, resilience, and love.

The performance is followed by a Q&A with Rose.

Chicago actor, Rose Buckner, has acted professionally in the theater for over 30 years. One of Rose’s favorite comic characters was Helen Wheedle, a passive-aggressive storyteller in Enter the Mollusk, available on Amazon Prime. She is the writer and performer of four solo shows including a comedy, Save the Ducks and Other Stories of Courage, Dignity, Embarrassment and Total Cowardice. Her latest solo play, The Reigning Belle of the Bluegrass Region, is the culmination of 17 years of writing and research about the life of her paternal grandmother. She has interviewed scores of individuals of diverse backgrounds and life stages. Rose taught arts and humanities to youths who were incarcerated or on probation or parole. For her work with Chicago youth, Rose received a Peter Lisagor Award for Journalism, the Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize for Public Humanities in the Community, and the Lawrence W. Towner Award for Best Humanities Project.

“Rose Buckner is a consummate actress. Her sensitivity, grace, and nuance as a performer are the hallmarks of her brilliance.” – Luigi Salerni, Theatre Director

This performance is free and open to all. No registration is required. It is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

For additional information, please contact Samantha at or at (815) 756-9568 ext. 1701.

Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

DeKalb Public Library, Yusunas Meeting Room
309 Oak St, Dekalb, IL 60115

Event Type

Concerts, Exhibits and Performances, Community Events


Arts and Culture

Target Audience

General Public



No registration required

Contact Name

Samantha Hathaway

Contact Email or Phone

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