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Literature to Life to Perform at the National Book Festival


originally published: 08/17/2022

Literature to Life to Perform at the National Book Festival

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Literature to Life (LTL), a performance-based literacy program that presents professionally staged verbatim adaptations of award-winning American literary classics, is set to perform at the prestigious National Book Festival, presented by the Library of Congress. The 22nd Annual National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. on September 3, 2022. LTL will present its adaptations of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk

The majority of presentations at the National Book Festival are author talks and interviews. LTL is one of two performance-based offerings at the Festival, presenting three solo performances of classic American books championing the BIPOC experience. LTL’s performances will begin at 2:45pm on the Please Read Me a Story Stage. All events at the National Book Festival are free and open to the public. More information can be found at via Literature to Life’s website: www.literaturetolife.org/our-events

Founded as the educational program of the American Place Theatre more than three decades ago, Literature to Life carries forward the legacy of founder Wynn Handman, who championed American writers of diverse backgrounds as “voices worth hearing.” Now under the leadership of co-founding Artistic Director Elise Thoron, this mighty collective of artists and educators brings diverse authors' voices to thousands nationwide, giving them the tools to become the empowered "voices worth hearing" of our future. 

In LTL’s Signature Performances, one actor tells the story, performing all the characters and transforming an important work of contemporary American literature into a live theatrical experience shared as a community. Literature to Life’s performances are bookended by a pre- and post-performance discussion facilitated by an LTL Teaching Artist. 

Teaching Artist Lisa Strum will facilitate pre- and post-show discussions for all three presentations at the National Book Festival. First up on the Please Read Me a Story Stage will be excerpts of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, performed by actor Tarantino Smith, from 2:50pm until 3:35pm. Channie Waites will perform excerpts of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk from 3:50pm to 4:35pm, and Kelvin Grullon will perform excerpts of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao from 4:50pm to 5:35pm. 

“Each book reflects an aspect of the experience of being a person of color in America; each author’s powerful voice delves into difficult questions of race, heritage, and cultural identity during different times in American history,” says Artistic Director Elise Thoron. “The vibrant work of the solo actor brings to life characters and gives an audience a shared experience of the book, deepening the effect of the author’s words, and ability to inhabit diverse perspectives. Facilitated discussions after our shows allow audiences to talk together through difficult questions of race, social norms, incarceration, justice, and their everyday American experiences.”



 
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Among other Festival highlights is singer-songwriter Janelle Monae discussing the Afrofuturistic world of her album to the written page for “The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer.” Other presenting celebrity authors include Nick Offerman and Leslie Jordan. The National Book Festival will take place from 9:00am until 8:30pm. Festival goers will be able to buy books by the featured authors from Politics & Prose, the official bookseller of the festival.

Literature to Life (LTL) is a performance-based literacy program that presents professionally staged verbatim adaptations of American literary classics. LTL’s mission is to perform great books that inspire young people to read and become authors of their own lives. Founded as the educational program of the American Place Theatre more than three decades ago, LTL carries forward the legacy of founder Wynn Handman, who championed American writers of diverse backgrounds as “voices worth hearing.” Now under the leadership of LTL co-founding Artistic Director, Elise Thoron, this mighty collective of artists and educators brings the voices of diverse authors to thousands of students and audiences nationwide, giving them the tools to become the empowered “voices worth hearing” of our future. 



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