Johnny Appleseed: Cutting to the Core

by  Hank Fincken: A National Theatre Company of One

Program image

Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman 1774-1845) tells you about his family, his beginnings, and his importance on the western frontier. Along the way, he will engage you with funny stories and maybe convince you to buy some of his apple seedlings for a fippenny. This program is highly interactive with plenty of time for audience participation. Mr. Fincken has been portraying Johnny for over 20 years and has the endorsement of the Johnny Appleseed Foundation, The Indiana Junior Historical Society and the Ohio Humanities Council. For more information on this event, contact Mr. Fincken.  This version of Johnny Appleseed tries to be as historically as possible. I will be debunking many of the Walt Disney myths regarding Johnny Appleseed.

This program is most appropriate for students in grades 2-5, but can be adapted to fit other ages.

Mr. Fincken is fluent in Spanish and offers his programs in both Spanish and English.

Program Rating

  based on 28 evaluation(s).
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About This Program


By Request: $250.00


This program is 45 minutes.

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5, 6, Adult LearnersPublic Library: Library Patrons Retirement Communities

Minimum participants:

No Minimum

Maximum participants:

There is no maximum, but for optimum interactivity, we suggest no more than 50 students.

Primary Disciplines

Language Arts/English, Performing Arts, Sciences, Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)

Booking Information

This program is also available by request. Please note: The Saturday, September 24 program will be in a half Spanish, half English format. Because of a special grant, this one time the program will cost the site only $100. If four sites sign up, then that price will be reduced to $75. Please pass the word.

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Sites canceling programs within 72 hours of program will be charged half the fee unless weaher related.

About This Provider

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Hank Fincken: A National Theatre Company of One

Indianapolis, IN
United States

                                   SO YOU KNOW

I’m still performing, but I’ve had to adapt. At this point, no
one is booking in-person live Theatre. So, I do virtual
presentations. To keep it exciting, I perform an excerpt from each
play, discuss the research, and answer your questions. It’s a
performance, a workshop, and an adaptation to your unique interests.

GOOD NEWS FOR YOU: It’s cheaper. Since I usually work through
CILC, I give them a block-booking discount. That discount is for
you. And there’s another discount if you book a second
presentation the same day. Call it the family discount. That means
it’s your turn to do the dishes.

CILC is a virtual learning network. I have received 8 of their
national Pinnacle Awards. The judges are customers from the previous
year, 7 questions that must result in at least a 95% OUTSTANDING
evaluation. My mother never endorsed me with such a score.

LET’S TALK NITTY-GRITTY: I can perform in English and Spanish.
For years, school, colleges, and libraries have said they want
programs that appeal to their Latinx students. So, why didn’t they
call me? Either they found me too expensive or too white. This past
July I taught Theatre in Spanish in Ecuador for the fifth year in a
row. Am I a native speaker? No, but my Spanish is good enough to
tell bad jokes and get the job done. I inspire. In addition, I
lived in Peru and Costa Rica for 6 years.

LET’S TALK DIRTY: All my characters are controversial. That’s
why I chose them. I wanted to have meaty discussions about things
that matter. I will not be preaching simple answers, but I will help
you better understand complex questions. For example, if you think
Christopher Columbus and Francisco Pizarro are horrific men, then you
are simplifying the past the same way White America used to do. If
you want complex history, book me. If you want comfortable history
with easy to identify good guys and bad, please don’t. Don’t you
want to know the “whys” behind their behavior so you don’t
replicate their footsteps?? Hey, CC is not your lazy
brother-in-law! You can also see here that I refuse to let humor
with all its destructive powers creep into my program.

WHAT HASN’T CHANGED. My research is excellent. All my scripts
have been fact-checked by college professors, not college students.
I will present the most accurate history I can (and disregard faddish
history when possible), which provides soul-searchingful insight
about the past and hope for the future. I encourage thought-provoking
questions and will try to avoid only demonizing and stereotyping.

DON’T BELIEVE ME: Ask a tough question. Give me your best shot.   

Hank’s grandfather
used to say, “Go Back far enough and every successful family begins with a
horse thief. “ Then let’s take it as a given: All historical characters have
serious flaws, just like you and me.  Hank’s
goal in representing famous people from history is not to explore a rosy past
but rather to better understand mistakes while keeping in mind noble intentions
and achievements.  Of my eight original
one-man historical plays, six are appropriate for your venue. 

For thirty
years, Hank has presented historical plays with a bite.  He wants the audience to understand that the
past was as complex as the present and the only way to improve this inherited
culture of ours is to honestly discuss virtues and flaws.   No two performances are the same because all
Hank’s plays are interactive, and they evolve according to the interests of
each audience.  In one play, the main
character says, “The History you get depends on the questions you ask.”

provides award-winning study guides.  If
the audience (student or adult) comes prepared, Hank can go deeper into the
material.  Hank interprets prepared
students as a sign that the teacher is as committed to the success of the
presentation as he is.  Hank speaks to a
venue representative long before he arrives to make sure he covers the issues
that the teachers and/or audience think are important. 

Hank has added a new STEM component to all his plays. Details
about this, and how his programs meet state standards, are available upon


Indiana Arts Commission gave him the title of Master Artist, and the Indiana
Theatre Association gave him its Service Award for promoting Theatre throughout
the state.  He has performed all across
this nation and in Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, and Spain.  In the summer of 2019, Hank received his
seventh national Pinnacle Award for his teaching of History and Creative
Writing through video conferencing.  

Hank Fincken

Program Details


The program is a first-person presentation of Johnny Appleseed.
1. Johnny discusses his beginnings and life on
the frontier.
2. Participants ask Johnny questions.
3. Mr. Fincken steps out of character and
discusses research behind the creation of a
historically based character.
4. Discussion of the difficulty of separating
myth from fact.


1. Participants will begin to understand John's contribution to American history.

2. Participants will appreciate the apple's importance in settling the Mid-west.

3. Participants will become more critical in determining the difference between
fact and fiction.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Common Core
Language Arts Grades 2-5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.4.1, SL.5.1
Comprehension and Collaboration: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6, RL.3.6, RL.4.6, RL.5.6
Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.9, RL.3.9, RL.4.9, RL.5.9
Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

National Standards
Social Studies
NSS-USH.K-4.2 THE HISTORY OF STUDENTS' OWN STATE OR REGION Understands the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state
NSS-USH.K-4.3 THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND VALUES AND THE PEOPLE FROM MANY CULTURES WHO CONTRIBUTED TO ITS CULTURAL, ECONOMIC, AND POLITICAL HERITAGE Understands the causes and nature of movements of large groups of people into and within the United States, now and long ago
Understands the folklore and other cultural contributions from various regions of the United States and how they helped to form a national heritage
NSS-USH.5-12.4 ERA 4: EXPANSION AND REFORM (1801-1861) Understands United States territorial expansion between 1801 and 1861, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans

State Standards

Language Arts
2.7, 3.7 Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication
2.7.2 Ask for clarification and explanation of stories and ideas
3.7.7 Use clear and specific vocabulary to communicate ideas and establish the tone
3.7.11 Distinguish between the speaker's opinions and verifiable facts
4.7 Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication
4.7.1 Ask thoughtful questions and respond orally to relevant questions with appropriate elaboration
5.7.2 Interpret a speaker's verbal and nonverbal messages, purposes, & perspectives

Social Studies
Use primary sources to identify and explain changes that have occurred in local and/or regional communities of Indiana
2.1.2 Use historical resources to compare and contrast community life in different periods of American history.
3.1.5 Compare significant people, places, events, and developments in other communities and/or regions within the United States.
4.1 History Students will trace the historical periods, places, people, events, and movements, which have led to the development of Indiana as a state.
4.4.1 Give examples of the kinds of goods* and services* produced in Indiana in different historical periods.