Picnic with the Bard

‘Romeo and Juliet’ performed on library lawn

The Blount County Library doesn’t just offer books; they also provide a place where stories come to life.

On July 26, the classic Shakespeare love story “Romeo and Juliet” was featured on the grassy outdoor stage of the library’s front lawn.

“Instead of just reading Shakespeare, they can actually see it live,” said Community Outreach coordinator Joan VanSickle Sloan.

The Blount County Friends of the Library sponsored the event; which featured 19 local actors from the Tennessee Stage Company. This was the fifth year for the library’s annual Shakespeare on the Lawn event.

VanSickle Sloan said approximately 280 people attended the performance. “This year we had the most children we’ve ever had attend an event.”

VanSickle Sloan said most of the library events, which range from dramas to music to local storytellers, are ideal for children of all ages.

The library will host the Knoxville Opera Company at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2, in the Reading Rotunda. The performers will offer a sample of upcoming operas as well as close out the library’s season of Hot Summer Nights Concerts Series. The series featured a variety of music including pop, folk and classical.

VanSickle Sloan said unlike most concerts, children are not confined to auditorium chairs and can roam throughout the library when they get restless while still enjoying the music.

The library hosts events from wide range of genres. This summer’s Shakespeare on the Lawn featured classic English literature, while the upcoming event “Growing Up with the Walker Sisters,” will personify local history.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 13, Robin Goddard will share stories from her childhood as the daughter of “Miss Elsie,” Elsie Burrell, a well-known educator. Her mother taught near the Walker Sisters’ farm, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The five spinster sisters are local legends because of their devotion to the traditional ways of living.

All library events are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, go to www.blountlibrary.org.

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