To many, Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a literary classic that became a cinematic classic two years later. That's just two manifestations of the story.
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning's inaugural "Carnegie Classics" presentation aims to bring the story to life in ways that will stimulate all the senses.
"I've never see anything quite like it," center director Neil Chethik says. "It came to us as an answer to the question, how do you make literary art more accessible to the public?"
The evening will start like an art exhibit, with the audience viewing original, commissioned work based on Mockingbird by local artists including Arturo Sandoval, John Lackey and Guy Mendes. While viewing, they may dine on small portions of food mentioned in the book such as corn bread, fried chicken and fried green tomatoes.
Then the audience will settle in for music inspired by the book performed by Jim Gleason. Roger Lee Leasor, Joe Ferrell, Sherry Jackson Thompson and Bianca Spriggs will present readings as a tribute to the novel.
For Leasor, it will be a return to Atticus Finch, the attorney and moral rock at the center of the story, whom he played in the Lexington Shakespeare Festival's 1999 production of Mockingbird.
"I love Southern literature," says Leasor, who recently played a lawyer in the production of 8 by Kentucky Conservatory Theatre and JustFundKY. "It's the cadence, and with Harper Lee the intelligence, which never seems to get in the way of the characters. That's a world I want to live in, where people talk and think that way."
Friday, he'll be part of creating that world.
Chethik says he has yet to think of what the next classic will be, but "this was an obvious place to start."