The Brigit St. Brigit Theatre and the Bookworm are conspiring to blur the line between literature and theater with a pair of free weekly events at the bookstore, 8702 Pacific St.
Each hopes to expand its patron list and encourage more people to attend local stage performances and to read.
A weekly Friday evening dramatic reading from literature, playfully called GET LIT!, features Brigit St. Brigit actors doing interpretive readings from novels, plays, poetry, radio dramas and more. A discussion with the audience follows. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday mornings at 10:30, actor Scott Kurz, a co-administrator of the Brigit, and actress Delaney Driscoll read children’s literature during Mr. Scott’s Saturday Morning Story Time.
Though new, both events appear to be finding an audience. More than 30 people turned out for the first GET LIT! July 19 to hear excerpts from James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Catbird Seat.” The readings featured Kurz, David Landis, Eric Griffith and Jennifer McGill.
Beth Black, co-owner of the Bookworm, said the Saturday story hour is proving popular not only with children but also adults.
“Parents are so thrilled, just because they’re so much fun to listen to,” she said.
A projection screen displays the illustrations from each book behind the actors, who go all out with character voice work. Kurz, who worked full time as a preschool teacher for 15 years, said he missed working with youngsters and loves reading to them.
The readings were the brainchild of the Brigit’s creative committee, which met earlier this summer seeking creative ways to build audience and have fun with theater. Brent Spencer, a Nebraska Book Award-winning author, serves on the Brigit’s creative committee. He has acted in several of its shows, and also has done readings from his works at the Bookworm.
Spencer, the director of creative writing at Creighton University, has an office next door to that of Cathy Kurz, founding artistic director of the Brigit and Scott Kurz’s wife. Cathy teaches in Creighton’s world literature program. She has master’s degrees in literature and theater.
“I never really saw that impermeable line that often gets drawn between them,” Cathy Kurz said last week. “They inform one another. And over a lot of the Brigit St. Brigit’s history, we’ve done adaptations of great literature.”
She said that while there is a natural overlap in the Bookworm and Brigit patron lists, there’s room for both to attract new fans from each other.
“It doubles your exposure,” Black said, with low investment by presenters and patrons. Attending the readings, typically under an hour, doesn’t require getting dressed up. It’s a minimal time commitment for actors, too. The children’s hour also shows parents how much fun reading to their children can be while exposing kids to literature.
Kids who learn to love literature, Kurz said, often become adults who love attending the theater. Meanwhile, the adult readings reinforce the Brigit’s strong ties to language-driven plays and literature.
It’s also a cheap date night, she said, with time to go out to dinner afterward.