For Immediate Release
Mayor’s Press Office
Maggie Killackey Jurgensen
Chicago Public Library
ARTHUR MILLER’S PLAY THE CRUCIBLE SELECTED FOR ONE BOOK, ONE CHICAGO
August 30, 2007
The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s McCarthy era depiction of the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials, is the 13th selection for Chicago’s citywide book club, One Book, One Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today.
One Book, One Chicago began in the fall of 2001 to encourage Chicagoans to read the same book at the same time and discuss a great piece of literature with friends and neighbors. Since its inception, thousands of Chicagoans have participated in book discussion groups, lectures, dramatic readings and cultural events. “More than 50 years ago, Arthur Miller wrote a wonderful play that raised important questions about fear, persecution and truth — issues that have always been debated passionately,” Daley said at a news conference at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street.
“The One Book, One Chicago program is aimed at getting Chicagoans in every neighborhood to talk with each other about an important issue of the heart or of the mind, and to re-connect with the matchless experience of reading,” the Mayor said.
In past years the selections have examined issues of conflict, love, family, community and the meaning of truth. The current selection challenges us to take a hard look at all of these, Daley said.
The Crucible premiered in New York in 1953, at a time when anti-communist suspicion in the United States was rampant. Critically acclaimed as a bold criticism of McCarthyism and confronting themes of mass hysteria, irrational fear and political persecution, it won the Tony Award for Best Play.
“One of the hallmarks of democracy is the ability of people of differing views and walks of life to discuss complicated subjects openly and honestly,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey. One Book, One Chicago builds on that tradition by giving Chicagoans an outlet to ask tough questions and share their opinions.”
“We have to prepare our children to learn early in life and help them continuously to learn. We can do that by showing them how to love reading,” he said.
This is the second time a play has been chosen for the One Book, One Chicago program. Dozens of events revolving around the selection will bring the conversation to every neighborhood in the city over the next two months.
Among the events:
- As a partner in the fall 2007, One Book, One Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company will stage a production of The Crucible, September 13 through November 11, 2007. A series of free public programs featuring Steppenwolf actors will also take place at selected Chicago Public Library branches.
- On Monday, October 29, 2007 at 6:30 p.m., New York Times columnist Frank Rich will join John Callaway, former host of Chicago Tonight, to discuss what the American people can learn from the Salem witch hunts and McCarthyism.
- The one hour program, Us vs. Them, will begin with a dramatic reading of The Crucible featuring Steppenwolf ensemble members. It will be followed by discussion with prominent community leaders regarding how they feel themes of The Crucible relate to their communities.
- More than 2,000 English and Spanish language editions of The Crucible will be available at all 79 locations of the Chicago Public Library. At six Chicago Public Library branches, patrons can check out a Book Club in a Bag which contains eight copies of the novel and resource guides. Patrons can also enjoy the play by downloading an audio book to their MP3 player from the Chicago Public Library’s website. Fifty-seven DVDs and 30 audio book versions of The Crucible have also been ordered for selected branches.
- As part of Chicago Book Festival, free events and discussions will be held throughout October at Chicago Public Library branches, the Chicago Cultural Center, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Loyola University, DePaul University and the Gerber/Hart Library.
- The Harold Washington Library Center will host a panel discussion, Nothing but the Truth, on Thursday, October 11, at 6 p.m. The panel will explore the themes of The Crucible, and how they relate to the notion of truth, from the First Amendment to the Patriot Act. Panelists include: Rob Warden, Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions; Steve Huntley, Sun-Times columnist; Bernardine Dohrn, Northwestern’s Children & Family Justice Center; U.S. District Court Judge David Coar will moderate.
- DePaul University will once again offer Chicago’s One Book: Issues and Perspectives, a ten-week, graduate level course beginning September 10, 2007. For more information, including course tuition, visit the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program Web site at www.depaul.edu/~oboc or call (773) 325- 7839.
- More than 70 chapters of Mayor Daley’s Book Club Public High School students will take part in One Book, One Chicago by reading The Crucible, during the fall semester and participating in moderated discussions with club facilitators, who are high school teachers and school librarians. Many book clubs will also plan unique programming and displays inspired by themes in the novel. Mayor Daley also took the opportunity to address the importance of creating a culture of reading.
“For Chicago to compete in the global economy, we have to reinforce the idea that education never ends,” he said.
“The summer of 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of Chicago Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. I am proud to tell you more than 44,500 children participated in this year’s Summer Reading Program, and for the first time ever, the number of books they exceeded read topped one million.” (Exact numbers: 44,560 participants, a two per cent increase from last year and 1,017,978 books read, a 16 per cent increase from last year.)
In addition, about 2,000 adults participated in the Public Library’s inaugural Adult Summer Reading program, reading almost 25,000 books and attending dozens of tours, lectures and author talks, Daley reported. As the new school year begins, the Chicago Public Library will once again partner with Chicago public, private and parochial schools to insure all Chicago children have access to the Library’s many resources. Between September 4 and October 12 the Chicago Public Library will distribute library card registration forms and information in the classroom for students in grades 1 through 12. A Chicago Public Library Card is the most valuable school supply any child can have,” Daley said.
Previous One Book, One Chicago selections have been To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Night by Elie Wiesel, My Antonia by Willa Cather, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, The Ox- Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin.
The Chicago Public Library is comprised of the Harold Washington Library Center, two regional libraries and 76 neighborhood branches. The Chicago Public Library offers a rich resource of books, DVDs, audio books and more, provides free access to the Internet and WiFi in all of its locations, as well as free public programs for children, teens and adults.
The Harold Washington Library Center, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library and Conrad Sulzer Regional Library are all open 7 days a week, the remaining 76 branch libraries are open 6 days a week and patrons can access all of the libraries’ collections online 24 hours a day. For more information, please visit the website or call the Chicago Public Library Press Office at (312) 747-4050.