Tea & Literature offered at GVT

Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT) presents its five-week Literary Tea series on Thursdays, including two special themed teas for poetry and for children. The free events are co-sponsored by West Virginia Writers, Inc. The remaining dates for the teas are Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 and 10, with a community poetry tea on Tuesday, Oct. 15 and a children’s Literary Tea on Oct. 17. All of the teas will commence at 5:30 p.m. in the Greenbrier Valley Theatre on Washington Street in Lewisburg. For more information, call the GVT Box Office at 304-645-3838.
The literary tea series began in the early 2000s as a chance for GVT to support the literary arts through live prose and poetry readings by actors from the theater. West Virginia Writers, Inc., the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to writers in West Virginia, became a co-sponsor of the event and helps to supply readers from its members and from among area winners of its annual writing contest.
This year, in honor of GVT’s production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, the material read by GVT’s actors will be taken from the work of other writers of the Transcendentalist movement, who were peers of Thoreau. The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail dramatizes Thoreau’s 1846 arrest for refusing to pay taxes in protest to the Mexican-American War. The play also details the events of his life that led him to that night as well as its effect on his future as a Transcendentalist writer beyond it.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Transcendentalism is an American literary, political and philosophical movement of the early to mid-19th century. The transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was at hand and were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity. They urged that each person find, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “an original relation to the universe.” Emerson was a mentor to Thoreau, who cultivated this original relation to the universe in solitude amidst nature, and in writing. By the 1840s they, along with other transcendentalists, were engaged in the social experiments in creating utopian societies, as well as becoming vocal opponents of American slavery and other injustices they saw in their day.
Among the readers for GVT will be GVT’s Artistic Director Cathey Sawyer, GVT’s music director Kermit Medsker, actor Aaron Christensen (who plays Ralph Waldo Emerson in Thoreau) and GVT’s Office Manager Micah Labishak. Among the readers for West Virginia Writers are Miles Dean, Belinda Anderson, Brittney Cassity and Eric Fritzius.
On Tuesday, Oct. 15, GVT will offer its annual Community Poetry Tea in which members of the community are invited to share their own poetry, or simply read published poetry that they love. Winners of the WV Writers Annual Writing contest will be featured poets for the evening, including Lori Evans, Barry Rich and G.O. Knicely. On Oct. 17, GVT will offer its Children’s Literary Tea, featuring students from the GVTeens Conservatory performing dramatic readings from classic children’s books. Cookies, milk and cocoa will be served as the student players perform, reading from books such as Olivia, Curious George, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Lorax.
For more information, call the GVT Box Office at 304-645-3838.

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