Monday, March 18, 2013

A Night With the "Odd" Chapters of The Grapes of Wrath

Courtesy: Karena Fagan
This last Wednesday I decided to go to one of the 30 events Santa Cruz Reads is putting on to celebrate John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, his life and his other works thanks to a grant received from the National Endowment of the Arts. The event was put on at the Downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries with the Willing Suspension Armchair Theater performing The "Odd" Chapters of The Grapes of Wrath, the chapters about the ecology, the surrounding area like Highway 66, and the other elements that paint the picture of what life was like for the Joads and other families making the migration. 

While the little meeting room on the second floor of the library did not allow for a large audience, the crowd who did show up was impressive as was the performance. Eight readers performed their interpretation of the chapters. They gave such color to what is a dismal part of our history. I especially enjoyed their portrayal of Chapter 15 in which Steinbeck describes the hamburger stands that were along Highway 66, specifically of the story of Al and Mae's stand in which Mae encounters stingy rich people, proud migrants and generous truck drivers. The part where Mae gives the migrant children candy brought tears to my eyes with the performer's portrayal. 

The whole thing was so inspiring, I went home and picked up the copy of The Grapes of Wrath that I had bought (unknowing that we already had a copy, but that's a post for another day) and started reading. I started Thursday morning and finished Saturday morning. It was such a great book and these performers did it great justice.
Courtesy: Karena Fagan

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