For two years, Harvard University social sciences professor Matthew Desmond embedded himself in two poor neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What he found was a sobering fact of life: One of the struggling residents’ biggest challenges was holding on to a place to live. Eviction was a persistent threat.
Craig Cobb was already notorious before trying to take over Leith, North Dakota, and turn it into an Aryan enclave some three years ago. The struggle for control of the tiny hamlet culminated in the white supremacist’s arrest for intimidating its residents.
As part of the Indie Lens Pop-Up community cinema initiative, the Library and KCPT-TV screen the documentary Welcome to Leith, which chronicles the saga from the days leading up to Cobb’s arrest to his release from jail six months later (he eventually was placed on probation). The film touches on Cobb’s connection to Frazier Glenn Miller, who in 2014 killed three people outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.
Kansas City-area performer Rockin’ Rob educates and entertains with an original style of children’s music incorporating folk, a cappella, oldies, blues, freestyle, doo wop, gospel, and rock n’ roll. Geared to 2- to 10-year-olds but appropriate for all ages.
Cote Smith sets his debut novel in the prison town of Leavenworth, Kansas, drawing from his experiences growing up there. Hurt People revolves around two brothers, 9 and 11, and a stranger who befriends them at the same time the town is gripped by a convict’s escape. As the older boy and the charismatic stranger grow closer, the younger child detects danger and desperately tries to keep his brother from slipping away.
The acclaimed 2010 film Black Swan offers a strange and terrifying interpretation of the dance world, revolving around a ballerina succumbing to the stress of her starring role and her conflicted feelings about her mother and demanding and seductive artistic director. Natalie Portman’s performance in the starring role earned a best-actress Oscar.
On the heels of the Kansas City Ballet’s first full production of Swan Lake—perhaps the most recognized classical ballet of all time—at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Library revisits the psychologically searing film with a screening and subsequent discussion. Leading the conversation are ballerina Tempe Ostergren, in her fifth season with the Kansas City Ballet, and psychoanalyst David Donovan.
Biographer Arnold Rampersad discusses Harlem Renaissance luminary Langston Hughes and his relationship with a number of photographers who celebrated African-American life and literary tradition. Among them: Gordon Parks, whom Hughes advised on a series of photos based on Hughes’ 1942 poetry collection Shakespeare in Harlem.
The Library continues its 10th season of Script-in-Hand performances and more than six months of special programming surrounding one of the cultural events of the year – an exhibit featuring a rare, nearly four-centuries-old First Folio collection of Shakespeare’s plays.
These two comedies by American playwright Charles George reflect on the notions of love and romance through witty repartee, puns, and direct references to the Bard’s folio.
At 83, SuEllen Fried’s social conscience has scarcely ebbed. The Prairie Village native – one of former President George H.W. Bush's Points of Light – continues to visit prisoners across Kansas as part of the Reaching Out from Within self-help program she co-founded. She also founded the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse as the model chapter for what is now Prevent Child Abuse America.
The latest installment of Meet the Past with Crosby Kemper III spotlights two of the Midwest’s greatest artists, Kansas City’s Thomas Hart Benton and Iowan Grant Wood, painter of the iconic American Gothic.
Kemper, the Library’s director, holds a public conversation with Benton and Wood as respectively portrayed by veteran actor Robert Gibby Brand and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s Matt Rapport. The event is co-presented by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in conjunction with its production of The Elixir of Love later in March. Taking inspiration from Benton for its costumes, and from Wood for scenery, the Lyric resets Gaetano Donizetti’s sentimental comedy in early 20th-century America.