PATERSON, NJ –  Though the COVID-19 pandemic has kept people apart, the Paterson Public Library is doing what it can to help residents stay connected.

As part of the One Book One Paterson initiative, the library will present a virtual production of “A Lesson Before Dying” this weekend.

The performance of Ernest Gaines’ 1993 novel will be presented in three parts: Act One on Oct. 16, Act 2 on Oct. 17 and an actor talkback on Oct. 18.

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Launched earlier this year, the community reading program – which was made possible through a shared grant by the National Endowment of the Arts – offers residents of all ages to connect with one another by reading the same book

The library was able to set aside 4,000 copies of the selected book on standby and hosted a few Big Read events, like discussion groups. It also encouraged residents to get together to organize their own discussion groups and come up with other ways to enjoy the story together.

In “A Lesson Before Dying,” a story about a young black man who witnesses a shootout in which three men are killed, there are many themes relevant to the current social climate, including segregation, civil rights and racism. 

The upcoming production is being directed by Lewis Cole of Now Theatre, Inc. and features Patersonians in the spotlight as well as behind the scenes.

Cast members include: Rashard Davis as Grant Wiggins, Kyle Hughes as Sheriff Guidry, Antonio Gordon as Jefferson, James Boccuzzi as Paul, Pamela White as Miss Emma and Talena Lachelle Queen as Vivian Baptise.

The crew includes: Christine Conforti (costumes), Natalzia (makeup), Doug Taylor (sound technician) and Open Road Poetry (technical direction).

Click here for more information about how to watch the performance.

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