The Lincoln County Public Library, together with a number of other counties across the state, is currently hosting a Community Read effort and series of events in honor of one of history’s greatest poets and playwrights — William Shakespeare.
Since the English writer and actor was born on April 26, 1564, this year marks his 450th birthday.
Dubbed “Whole Lotta Shakespeare Goin’ On,” the Shakespearean celebration spans multiple counties, with each participating county — including Gaston, Cleveland, Polk and Catawba — hosting for its citizens a different classic work by the legendary poet, Lincoln County Library Director Jennifer Sackett said.
The large-scale reading effort, the first of its kind for Lincoln County, Sackett noted, commenced on March 17 and will last through April 26.
Local library officials said they chose Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily a New Hope” for the Lincoln County community, hoping to draw in as many people and age groups as possible for the effort.
The work, which retells the story of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” combines classic literature and science fiction, Sackett said.
She added that it is also the first book in a three-part series Doescher is writing using iambic pentameter, a popular Shakespearean writing style. The second book was released in recent weeks and a third is in the works, Sackett said.
All three county library branches maintain copies of Doescher’s book for those interested in participating in the six-week read; digital copies can be found at ncdigital.lib.overdrive.com.
The community will also have the opportunity on April 17 to meet the Oregon-based author, who graduated from Yale University with both an undergraduate in music and a Masters in Divinity, according to a library press release. Doescher also received a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
The special interview session will be simultaneously broadcasted via Skype at each of the county’s three library branches — the Charles R. Jonas Library in Lincolnton, the Florence S. Shanklin Library in Denver and the West Lincoln Library in Vale.
Doescher will explain his book and take questions from the public.
Throughout the weeks, a number of Shakespearean and Star Wars-themed activities will also take place across the county, either at one of the library branches, the Citizens Center, the Cultural Center or Unity Presbyterian Church in Denver.
Events will include game nights with Angry Birds Star Wars and Jeopardy, “Jedi Academy” training for children ages 6 to 10 and an exclusive “Intergalactic Renaissance Fair” with light saber duels and individuals dressed as knights, fairies, royalty and other characters from the particular historical time period.
Citizens are encouraged to also dress in costume for the event, set for 3-6 p.m. April 26 at the Citizens Center; a best costume award will be handed out to one adult, teen and juvenile, the release said.
Because “National Poem in Your Pocket Day” falls during the six-week celebration, library officials plan to also hand out various snippets from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets to interested library-goers, Sackett said.
Two special musical events will additionally occur next month. On April 10, Davidson College music students will perform songs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance period in the show “Collegium Musicum.” On April 23, Gardner Webb University Dr. Megan McCauley, DMA, an adjunct professor for the School of Performing and Visual Arts, will present the program “Ophelia: From Song to Stage.”
Through acting and singing, McCauley will portray one of Shakespeare’s most famous characters from the play “Hamlet.”
The professor first performed the part in June 2010 for the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon in England, library officials said.
Throughout McCauley’s career, she has also performed at the University of Kentucky’s Opera Theater and Kennedy Center; she was also a part of a production both overseas and in Philadelphia with the International Opera Company, based in Citta della Pieve, Italy.
For more information on the Community Read and accompanying events or to register a child for Jedi Academy, call (704) 735-8044 or visit mylincolnlibrary.org.