National Endowment for the Arts' "Big Read" Literary Guides
Stage adaptation of Bradbury classic opens at 59E59 Theaters July 11
July 7, 2006
New York, NY - Ray Bradbury's classic science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 is being celebrated on the page as well as the stage during July performances of the stage adaptation at the 59E59 theaters. Thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), audience members will receive copies of the NEA's Fahrenheit 451 reader's guide developed as part of the NEA's new literary initiative, the Big Read. Some of the features included in the reader's guide are an introduction to the novel, an interview with Bradbury about writing the novel, and discussion questions. Fahrenheit 451 is one of eight modern American classics that communities participating in the Big Read can choose to read.
The author, who has participated enthusiastically in the Big Read, and who has given his public support to the program, requested the NEA distribute its reader's guides at the performances.
"Fifty years ago, Ray Bradbury created one of the greatest pieces of American science fiction, Fahrenheit 451. While his prophetic novel has been successfully adapted for both the stage and screen, we've included the book in our Big Read program because want people also to enjoy the powerful experience of reading the original novel," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "We're extremely proud that Mr. Bradbury wanted our readers' guides to be made available to theater audiences."
The landmark NEA report "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America" (2004) documented a dramatic decline in literary reading - among all age groups, ethnic groups, and education levels - and galvanized a national discussion. Modeled on successful "city reads" programs, the Big Read was developed to help reverse this trend by giving citizens in more than 100 communities in all 50 states an opportunity to read and discuss great books. The Big Read is the literary component of the Arts Endowment's American Masterpieces program, an initiative that will combine arts presentations with education programming to introduce Americans to the best of the nation's cultural and artistic legacy.
In addition to direct grants, the NEA offers each community a library of resources. These materials include reader's and teacher's guides for each novel; audio guides for each book; an online organizer's guide for running a successful Big Read Program, and a comprehensive Web site. A partnership between the NEA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest, a Minneapolis-based regional arts organization.
For more information on the Big Read, please visit www.neabigread.org.
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