2021 Great Books Summer Drama Festival – Families, Foibles, Friends and Fine Art

The Tampa Bay Great Books Council invites you to our 2021 Great Books Summer Drama Festival, featuring two prize-winning plays by Yasmina Reza. The annual mid-year Drama Festival will take place on Saturday, June 12, 2021, beginning at 10:00 AM.

Known for her sparkling wit and her ability to saturate simple situations with complex meaning, Yasmina Reza has become one of the most popular playwrights of the modern era, and her Tony Award-winning creations “The God of Carnage” and “Art” form the basis for the next one-day conference presented by the Tampa Bay Great Books Council. 

Our day of theater begins with a playground fight between two boys — a common enough event, but one which spirals into inter-family squabbles, tantrums, and tears when the two sets of parents meet to discuss the situation with reason and civility.  “The God of Carnage” won the Tony Award for “Best Play” in 2009, featuring performances by actors including James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden, and Hope Davis (all of whom were nominated for Best Actor/Actress for their performances)!  The play was subsequently adapted into a film directed by Roman Polanski starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.  (Book available at Barnes & Noble for around $15; “Acting Version” on Amazon for $10.)

After a midday break, you’ll re-convene with our other participants to consider the meaning of Art and the meaning of Friendship, in a discussion of Yasmina Reza’s “Art.”  The purchase of a spectacularly-expensive (but blindingly-simple) painting sets one friend against another, while a third is caught squarely between them.  “Art” enjoyed an eight-year presence on the London stage, as well as a 600-performance run on Broadway, earning a Tony Award for “Best Play of 1998” with a cast of Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina.  (Available at Amazon.com for around $15.)

Conference Registration and Details

Conference sessions will be held on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 10:00 AM using ZOOM, To register, click here to download and compete the registration form. Detach the form at the bottom of the page, and mail it with your check for $20 payable to Tampa Bay Great Books. Participants are responsible for the purchase of the required texts. You will receive an e-mail message confirming your registration.

Hyde, George 04 crop

George Hyde, a member of the Board of the Tampa Bay Great Books Council and the Immediate Past Chairman of the OLLI-USF Advisory Board, asked the most active members of TBGB for books what they would recommend for enjoyment and enlightenment during our mandated period of social distancing. See what they choose and why.

If you enjoy the intellectual stimulation and social interaction that OLLI-USF offers, you’re probably a little miffed at how the Coronavirus is affecting your daily life right now and for at least a few weeks to come.

Let’s face it…government and University officials are taking prudent steps to protect us from a disease with disproportionately adverse impact on older people – “the OLLI Generation,” if you will.  Now we’re being told that one of the most important behaviors under the COVID-19 threat is “social distancing,” just as we’re settling into a schedule of Spring classes with instructors and classmates whose company and whose ideas we enjoy!  So, with OLLI classes in hiatus or cancelled, how can you avoid going stir-crazy?

We asked some of OLLI’s most active members for books they would recommend for enjoyment and enlightenment during our mandated period of social distancing, and some of their ideas are listed below.  The criteria were simple – enjoyable and thought-provoking reads with easy availability (by Amazon delivery or Kindle download, for example).

Linda Feeney of New Tampa is a regular participant and discussion leader

Mystic River

in OLLI Great Books courses, and was one week into leading her new course (“Up for Discussion: Memoirs and Novellas”) when the ban on public gatherings went into effect, putting her course on hiatus. Here’s Linda’s list of “Five Books to Curl Up With”:  “The Man Who Smiled” (Henning Mankell), “Mystic River” (Dennis Lehane), “The Plot Against America” (Philip Roth), “Villette” (Charlotte Bronte), and “Alias Grace” (Margaret Atwood).

Barbara Brown of Temple Terrace managed to complete her

Water Dancer

latest OLLI course on Bob Dylan (“Jokerman: Dylan’s Personas, Masks, and Music”) before classes were suspended.  A former teacher of English in Hillsborough County, Barbara is also active in Literature and Poetry discussions, and serves as an Officer of the Tampa Bay Great Books Council. Barbara offers these ideas to enjoy during this period of enforced social distancing: “The Mirror and the Light” (Hilary Mantel), “The Water Dancer” (Ta-Nehisi Coates ), “American Dirt” (Jeanine Cummins), “The King at the Edge of the World” (Arthur Phillips), and “The Mercies” (Kiran MilIwood Hargrave).

Finally, we checked in with Patrick DeMarco of Riverview, a co-founder of Tampa Bay Great Books and moderator of the OLLI Great Books programs for more than a dozen years.  Patrick’s suggestions include: “Wolf Hall” (Hilary Mantel), “The Italians” (John Hooper), “The Cider House Rules” (John Irving), “On the Plain of Snakes” (Paul Theroux), and “Twenty-five Books That Shaped America” (Thomas Foster).

There you have it – fifteen terrific texts to interest, inspire, and entertain you during this period of reduced social and intellectual engagement. Enjoy!

Tampa Bay Great Books

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Joel Fyvolent offer his input during the Fall conference.

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