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Discussion brings library, theater group together

Deep Dish Theater Company and the Chapel Hill Public Library are collaborating to bring together their respective theater and literary worlds.

The library will host a discussion of Deep Dish’s play “Good People” in conjunction with Barbara Garson’s book, “Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live in the Great Recession.”

The aptly named 2011 play written by David Lindsay-Abaire explores what it means to be a good person in economic conditions both prosperous and impoverished.

Evelyn Daniel, a retired UNC professor who will lead the conversation, said the play is about a woman who is in a hard place and that the story is relatable.

“The path to upward mobility seems closed to them. I looked for a book that was contemporary and that was talking about this issue of how these people manage when the prospects for the future aren’t very bright,” Daniel said.

“It’s not a very happy topic, but it’s one we all need to be concerned with. We have increasing inequality in this country, and we need to do something about it.”

Daniel and Paul Frellick, artistic director of Deep Dish, choose the books together each season.

“We choose books to read and discuss that reflect on the plays thematically or that in some narrative way, enhance the experience of seeing the play, and also as a means of connecting with a book-reading audience who might be interested in the book and in finding out how it intersects with the play,” Frellick said.

Daniel said the library wasn’t able to hold many programs catered to adults in the past, so Deep Dish hosted these discussions in various locations throughout the community.

This is the first Deep Dish book discussion that will be held at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

“It’s only with the opening of the new library and these new meeting spaces that they have, and the new director, that we’re trying again to do this collaboration,” Daniel said.

Susan Brown, who became the library’s director in May, said she is very excited about the exposure the book discussions provide.

“Seeing a play is a very distinct experience, as a group experience — a group, audial and physical experience. And then reading a book is often a very individual experience. When you come together and talk about it, it becomes something bigger,” Brown said.

“This collaboration is about issues, rather than the play or the book. Certainly they are both very important, but what connects the two of them is the issue,” Brown said.

Frellick said everyone is invited to attend, whether or not you have read the book or seen the play.

He said that though Deep Dish is a small theater with few seats to sell, it wants to extend its reach.

“We’ve got a great thing going here — we just wish more people knew about it. Anytime we can connect with an audience who hasn’t heard of us is a good thing,” Frellick said.

“It couldn’t be better from our standpoint — from connecting with the literary audience.”

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