Annual Lit Fest is coming earlier this spring

By Murphy Obershaw, Copy Editor

Newman’s 21st Annual Literary Festival is a month earlier this year than it usually is, but that’s not the only thing that will be different.

The event, which starts March 5, will also include performances of “Inferno,” a keynote by a Newman professor, presentations in Spanish and a dance.

Lit Fest is usually held in April, but this year it will be held March 5-6 since that is when the stage adaptation of “Inferno” will be performed.  “Inferno” is also Lit Fest’s theme this year.

“Inferno” is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem “The Divine Comedy,” which was written in the 14th century.

The stage adaptation of “Inferno” is special because it was written by Newman’s Director of Theatre Mark Mannette and is something that has never been done before.

The decision to move Lit Fest up a month was made because Inferno is the theme this year, Associate Professor of English Marguerite Regan said.

Regan said that students were prepared for Lit Fest being earlier because they started preparing for it since the beginning of the semester.

“We knew what the theme we designed, we built into our courses...connections to Dante,” she said.

Instead of having a keynote on Thursday night and other events all day on Friday, there will be a production of “Inferno” on Thursday night followed by a talk back with the cast and crew.

Usually, Lit Fest invites a guest speaker for the keynote, but this year, Newman’s Director of Theatre Mark Mannette will deliver it at noon on Friday.

“We definitely want to highlight Mark Mannette’s original work with just this great piece of literature…” Regan said. “Sometimes we think, ‘Oh we need to go outside to find experts.’ We have this expert right here who’s doing all this amazing creative work with Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ so we just thought, ‘Let’s put him as center stage at Lit Fest.’ It’s the perfect fit.”

This year will also be the first time there will be presentations in mostly Spanish. Assistant Professor of Spanish Sonja Bontrager said the idea for doing this stemmed from a project Dania Jumpa did for class.

Jumpa and her mother read “En el tiempo de las mariposas” by Julia Álvarez and watched a film based on the book.

“Jumpa wrote reflections in the style of Álvares and another Hispanic author in response to what she read,” Bontrager said.  “She also wrote about her experience reading with her mother and talking about their Dominican roots in the context of this literature in history...I was so pleased with Jumpa’s work that I wanted her to be a part of Lit Fest,” Bontrager said.

Claudius Ciecko and Mariah Gad will also be giving presentations on topics regarding connections they have had with Spanish. Gad’s will not be delivered in Spanish.

There will also be a Devil Revel at 10 p.m. on Friday. This is a dance where people can dress up as devils and zombies, and they can enjoy games and a chocolate fountain.

“A few years back, when we had a zombie theme, we had a ZomProm and everybody dressed up as zombies,” Professor of English Bryan Dietrich said. So we decided it would be kind of fun to do that again, except now everybody dresses up as devils because Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ So it’ll be the Devil Revel, zombies welcome.”

Lit Fest will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday night and 9:30 a.m. on Friday.  The complete Lit Fest schedule was emailed out to all students, faculty and staff.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Lucas Farney