Previous Special Events

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Octave Chanute can be considered a Kansas City hero. The young, Paris-born engineer built the Hannibal Bridge, which opened in 1869 and kick-started the small, river town into a Midwest railroad metropolis. He laid out the Stockyards in the West Bottoms and the new Johnson County town of Lenexa. When he became passionate in later years about human flight, his research drew the attention of the Wright brothers.


Friday, April 22, 2016
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Theatre of the Imagination Director Miles McMahon makes reading come to life, energizing kids with his highly engaging renditions of children’s literature new and old. He employs classic stories, funny folk tales, charming poems, and audience participation. All ages.


Thursday, April 21, 2016
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

When The Washington Post asked 162 political science scholars earlier this year which American president should be added to Mount Rushmore, their overwhelming favorite was Franklin Roosevelt.

But historian Alonzo Hamby makes a case that FDR’s record was more mixed than generally perceived. While a great politician and war leader, his signature New Deal failed to achieve its goal of reviving the nation’s economy, in part due to Roosevelt’s hostility toward the business and financial communities.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Award-winning writer, critic, and editor John Freeman launched the year’s most anticipated literary magazine, the biannual Freeman’s, in September 2015, making it a home for exceptional new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from both established and up-and-coming writers.

The former editor of the venerable British publication Granta and president of the National Book Critics Circle joins local novelist and Writers at Work series organizer Whitney Terrell in a public conversation about the new venture. They also discuss Freeman’s Tales of Two Cities: The Best and Worst of Times in Today’s New York, an anthology of pieces by 30 major contemporary writers recently released in paperback.


Monday, April 18, 2016
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Beset by sex crimes and cover-ups, financial scandal, declining membership, and the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church turned three years ago to a man of humility, benevolence, and uncommon candor. Pope Francis has proven to be a dynamic choice; enchanting, entertaining, and occasionally outraging his global flock in both word and deed.


Sunday, April 17, 2016
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Hollywood has adapted, sampled, and stolen from William Shakespeare for more than a century – seeing his works as a source of prestige as soon as the commercial possibilities of narrative movies were apparent. The Ciné Shakespeare series features four of the best films featuring the Bard or his works in the past 20 years. Joan FitzPatrick Dean, the Curators Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, introduces the selections and leads a discussion after each Sunday afternoon screening.

Ben Whishaw, whom you may know as Q in the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, stars as the titular Richard. Patrick Stewart, Clémence Poésy, and Rory Kinnear also appear in this first of four films in the BBC’s series of adaptations of Shakespeare histories, The Hollow Crown.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

What better way to celebrate Shakespeare than by getting into character?

SHAKESperience, a hands-on workshop conducted by the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, lends participants an opportunity to immerse in the Bard’s plays. The two-hour session focuses on text analysis, acting techniques pertinent to Shakespeare, improvisation, and the art of stage combat.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Participating in the conversation are several notable local music personalities: Katy Guillen (of the band Katy Guillen and the Girls), Steve Tulipana (co-owner of popular music venue RecordBar), Michelle Bacon (freelance music writer and member of several area bands including The Philistines), and Chris Haghirian (co-founder of Middle of the Map Fest and host of 90.9 FM The Bridge’s Eight One Sixty).


Thursday, April 14, 2016
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

It is one of the world’s most iconic images: a nude man, arms and legs outstretched, inside a square within a circle. Vitruvian Man – completed by Leonardo da Vinci around 1490 – perfectly reflects the great inventor and artist’s keen interest in proportion and attempts to relate man to nature. It has become visual shorthand for creative genius and scientific inquiry.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Guido Ruggiero underscored his position as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Italian Renaissance with his most recent book, The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento. Winner of the American Association for Italian Studies’ prize for the best work of 2014 on premodern Italy, it posed a major rethinking of the period from the mid-13th through the 16th centuries as both a movement and a historical era.


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