Brian Kral


Brian Kral is a Las Vegas-based director, playwright and theatre educator. He is the author of more than twenty plays, and his scripts have appeared in the anthologies West Coast Plays and Lucky 13, as well as Dramatics Magazine. He is currently working on a study of Buster Keaton’s roots in vaudeville, and a biographical work about 1940’s horror film stars. Kral is also a Chautauqua performer familiar to audiences throughout Nevada, not least those who attend the annual Nevada Humanities Chautauqua in Reno. He has presented such diverse historical figures as Captain Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, American playwright Eugene O’Neill, Yugoslavian dictator Marshal Tito, and the venerable Buffalo Bill Cody.

Photo credit: Bobbie Ann Howell


Chautauqua – Howard Hughes

Edna Purviance - Nevada’s First Star of the Silver Screen


For many Nevadans, the puzzle of Howard Hughes begins with a late-night arrival on a stretcher at the Desert Inn Hotel in 1966, and ends just as mysteriously four years later with his secret departure. Within that short time the elusive billionaire, film-producer and aviation pioneer never appeared in public—but he had purchased five Las Vegas hotels, a casino in Las Vegas and another in Reno, a television station, an air terminal, a regional airline, and thousands of acres of Nevada real estate. More importantly, he was credited with having legitimized corporate investment in the casino industry, which had long been associated with money laundering for the Mob. What many people don’t know, however, is that his involvement in Nevada began as early as the 1940s and continued into the 50s. In 1972, Hughes finally broke his personal silence with a press conference from a hotel in the Bahamas, to comment on a purported “autobiography” by Clifford Irving. This would be Hughes’ final comment on his life and achievements, and also on the persistent rumors about his strange appearance and obsessive behavior.

Photo credit: Bobbie Ann Howell

Appropriate Audience:  Adults; high- and middle-school students.

Duration: C. 1 hour

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Space required for a chair and small table (which presenter will supply).
  • Wireless microphone preferred if the audience is expected to be larger than 200 people.

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, Nevada


Meet Nevada’s first film star – Edna Purviance - in this unique film-based presentation.

While Purviance’s face may be familiar to fans of Charlie Chaplin’s early films, few people realize that she was actually his leading lady over a period of eight years, culminating in her supporting role in his groundbreaking feature-length movie, The Kid. Purviance also took a starring role in the only dramatic film Chaplin directed, A Woman Of Paris. Even fewer people are aware that Purviance was a native Nevadan, born in Paradise Valley, and raised in Lovelock and nearby Winnemucca. In fact, so little is generally known about her that journalist and author David Toll was moved to describe her as “Nevada’s Forgotten Movie Star”.

In this presentation, Brian Kral - guest Film Scholar for the Nevada State Museum’s Edna Purviance project – sets out to introduce the Purviance to a wider audience by shedding light on her early years in Nevada, and examining her unique contribution to film history.

Note: This presentation is followed with a screening of The Kid

Appropriate Audience:  Adults; high and middle school students; can be tailored for younger children.

Duration: C. 1½-2 hours. Please discuss the appropriate length for your organization with the Presenter.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Means for screening DVD

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Nevada, film, women’s interest