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Celebrating The Big Read with ‘The Great Gatsby’

The Big Read Greater Wilmington:
The Great Gatsby
January 25th-March 12th
www.thebigreadwilmington.com

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (American, 1900-1948), Circus, ca. 1938, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 24 1/4 inches, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama; Gift of the artist, 1943.5. On exhibit at Cameron Art Museum.

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (American, 1900-1948), Circus, ca. 1938, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 24 1/4 inches, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama; Gift of the artist, 1943.5. On exhibit at Cameron Art Museum.

Like many I first read “the great Gatsby” in a high school English course. I remember initially being intrigued by the jacket (Francis Cugat’s mesmerizing “Celestial Eyes” painting) and later by its colloquial, first-person narrative, which tackled characters and issues that resonated decades beyond its 1925 print date. I still make a point to re-read it every year, and, in my opinion, the novel seems to have only gotten better with age.

With a slick, new film adaptation (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire) hitting theatres May 10th, it’s also pretty evident that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous indictment of the corruption of the American dream in the mid-1920s hasn’t lost any steam. Now, thanks to The Big Read and its many partners and sponsors, Wilmington will honor F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary legacy and impact with a nearly two-month long celebration.

A national program designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture, The Big Read encourages literacy among people of all ages for pleasure and enlightenment. For “Gatsby,” The Big Read Greater Wilmington developed community-wide programs to include innovative, diverse activities through March. Included will be book discussions, art exhibits, lectures, film screenings, theatrical performances, music, and dance related to Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.

“To put it simply, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a classic of 20th-century American fiction and considered by many to be Fitzgerald’s best work,” Katie Tate, YWCA community outreach director, says “It is a no-brainer to introduce this novel to new audiences and reintroduce to older readers.”

The YWCA is just one of The Big Read’s several partners who have been working since November 2011 in planning Wilmington’s participation. Other partners include: Cape Fear Literacy Council, Cameron Art Museum, The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, Cape Fear Community College, UNCW, Forward Motion Dance, Old Books on Front Street, New Hanover County Public Library, Ashley High School, and WHQR. The event is also sponsored by: WHQR, Kidsville News, Livin’ Out Loud magazine, WWAY and Wilmington Design Company.

According to Tate, each partner brought their own ideas and flair to the table to become ultimately responsible in adding their own events to The Big Read calendar. Additionally, the Cape Fear Literacy Council was one of 78 not-for-profits across the U.S. awarded grant funds to host a Big Read program this year. The Cape Fear Literacy Council and all Big Read partners met and together agreed on “Gatsby” as the book-to-celebrate prior to applying for the grant.

“Our overall goal, of course, is to encourage everyone to read ‘The Great Gatsby,’” Tate says. “On that note, we also want community members to celebrate the book and be a part of the biggest collaboration greater Wilmington has ever seen.”Everyone involved with the celebration will host a plethora of events January 25th through March 12th.

THE BIG READ GREATER
WILMINGTON 2013 SCHEDULE

“Sometimes Madness is Wisdom: The Artwork of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald”
Exhibit now through March 10th
Eleanor Lanahan Lecture and Reception,
Feb. 3rd, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. • Admission: $3-$8
Cameron Art Museum • 3201 South 17th Street
Zelda Fitzgerald may be best known as the original “flapper,” wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and an icon of the Jazz Age. However, her contributions as a painter are often overlooked. “Sometimes Madness is Wisdom” explores the life and artwork of Zelda with 32 framed pieces created from 1927 through the late 1940s (see encore cover story, Jan. 2nd; archived online).
Granddaughter of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Eleanor Lanahan, will give a public lecture that will illuminate the life and times of her grandparents. A “Meet the Speaker Reception” will follow with the viewing of the “Sometimes Madness is Wisdom.” Admission to Cameron Art Museum is $8 for the general public, $5 for seniors, students and military and $3 for children ages 2-12.

Kick Off Party: Great Gatsby and All That Jazz!
Fri., Jan. 25th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. • Free!
MC Erny Gallery at WHQR
254 N. Front Street, #300
The Kick-Off Party for The Big Read Wilmington celebrates the culture of the Roarin’ Twenties and the themes of “The Great Gatsby” downtown at our public radio station, WHQR. Guests will be treated to music, art and fashion of the 1920s, with complimentary wine and food, and special guests from the community. “Great Gatsby and All That Jazz” will be curated by Gatsby scholar, author and WHQR Commentator Nan Graham along with WHQR Commentator Annie Gray Johnston.

Dance Like Gatsby!
Sat., Jan. 26th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. • Free!
Northeast Regional Library
1241 Military Cutoff Road
This is a free jazz dance event for all ages featuring live music by the 208th Army Band’s Swing Cats. This will be a perfect time to bust out the jitterbug or Charleston and not get salty looks.

Cinematique
“The Great Gatsby” (1974)
Sun., Feb. 3rd, 7:30 p.m. • $8
Thalian Hall • 310 Chestnut Street
For a lot of people, it’s hard to shake the visual association of Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan. Before the spring release of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2013 interpretation, check out the 1974 beloved adaptation on the big screen.

Film Screening and Discussion
Mon. Feb. 4th, 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. • Free!
UNCW Lumina Theater
UNCW Professor Sue Richardson of the film studies department will introduce “G,” a 2002 film which features a modern variation of Gatsby’s love story with an African-American cast and hip-hop soundtrack.Richardson will lead a discussion afterward (sponsored by The UNCW Randall Library, the Film Studies Department and the Upperman African American Cultural Center).

‘The Great Gatsby’ Book Discussions
New Hanover County Library • Free
Tue. Feb. 5th, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.; Feb. 19th, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Northeast Branch
Mon., Feb. 11th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.,
Main Branch
Tues., Feb. 25th, 11 a.m. – noon,
Myrtle Grove
Numerous book discussions about Fitzgerald’s prized work will take place throughout the branches of the New Hanover County Library in February. Multiple times and locations exist to fit around any schedule. Enjoy community discussions about the book, and discover themes perhaps never explored from another’s interpretation.

The Fitzgerald Letters
Sun. Feb. 10th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. • Free
Old Books on Front Street
249 N. Front Street
A dramatic reading of Scott and Zelda’s published letters to each other will be performed by local actors Gray Hawkes and Christy Grantham.

Prologue w/Ben Steelman & Nan Graham
Mon. Feb. 11th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. • Free
MC Erny Gallery at WHQR
254 N. Front Street, #300
Join StarNews’ Ben Steelman and North Carolina writer and public radio commentator Nan Graham for an in-depth discussion of “The Great Gatsby” and its pop-cultural and literary effects.

The Great Gatsby Book Discussion: A Feminist Perspective
Feb. 20th, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Free
UNCW Randall Library
601 South College Road
Led by Lisa Coats (UNCW Randall’s First Year Engagement Librarian) and Professor Katie Peel (UNCW Department of English), this discussion will be a precursor to the scholarly discussion panel being led by Professor Janet Ellerby. It will focus on the feminist perspective, looking at women in the novel and of the 1920s.

Forward Motion Dance Company
Thurs., Feb. 21st, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. •$5-$10
Fri., Feb. 22nd, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.,
Sat. Feb. 23rd, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Cameron Art Museum
3201 South 17th Street
The innovative dance company will choreograph and present a new performance inspired by both Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, which will also feature jazz music of the time period performed by local musicians, as well as dramatic readings from biographies of the Fitzgeralds, “The Great Gatsby” and Zelda Fitzgerald’s own writings.

Jazzy Strings: Children’s Program
Sat. Feb. 23rd, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. • Free
New Hanover County Library, Main Branch
Jazzy Strings is a family-friendly program presented as a part of New Hanover County’s Big Read series based around The Great Gatsby. Jazzy Strings is a fantastical mixture of puppetry and the music of the early 20th century set against big band, Dixieland and ragtime music performed by the Mountain Marionettes.

Book Discussion: Fitzgerald Biography led by UNCW Professor Janet Ellerby
Feb. 27th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. • Free
Feb. 28th, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
UNCW Randall Library’s Helen Hagen Rm.
601 South College Road
Professor Ellerby leads scholarly discussion panels which will focus on “Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography” by Jeffrey Meyers. The purpose of the discussion is to link the community and university in an informed dialogue on the biographical influences of the author’s life and the historical period on “The Great Gatsby.” Ellerby will address such topics as feminist response to the novel, the influence of Zelda Fitzgerald on character and plot, and the representation of women in the novel.

Grenoldo Frazier Performance
Thurs., Feb. 28th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. • $5-$10
Cameron Art Museum
3201 South 17th Street
Enjoy a night of vintage jazz music at the museum by local-favorite and renowned composer/pianist Grenoldo Frazier, as hosted by the Cape Fear Jazz Society.

Elliot Engel Lecture w/UNCW Osher
Lifelong Learning Institute
Tues., Mar. 12th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. • $40-$60
UNCW Warwick Center
With his lecture “The Rise and Fall of F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Engel reveals the fascinating life and times of one of America’s most popular novelists. Using anecdotes, biography, analysis and humor, Engel explains how and why Fitzgerald’s unique personality and creative imagination made him the perfect symbol of the Jazz Age.

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