Big Read Kicks Off at Waukegan Public Library!

The Waukegan Public Library is excited to announce three special events that will kick off its four-month Big Read, Fahrenheit 451! The festivities will run from Friday, Oct. 30, through Saturday, Oct. 31. As Halloween was Ray Bradbury's favorite holiday, the timing couldn't be more perfect.

10th Annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival: The Art of Storytelling
Friday, October 30, 7:30pm; Genesee Theatre

Stories will be spun for the tenth year in a row at the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 7:30pm at Waukegan's historic Genesee Theatre. This year, the award-winning Festival will feature an all-Bradbury program that will be sure to delight fans of Waukegan's famous son. The Storytelling Festival will also kick off the Library's Big Read: a four-month celebration of Bradbury's landmark novel Fahrenheit 451.

Five acclaimed storytellers will return to the Genesee Theatre to tackle some of Ray Bradbury's most iconic works – from Fahrenheit 451 to October Country to Dandelion Wine, one of many works to feature Waukegan re-imagined as "Green Town." Hosted by the Waukegan Public Library, the festival will be a celebration of Bradbury's literary genius.

Storytellers Jim May, Oba William King, Carol Birch and Bill Oberst Jr. will join Artistic Director Megan wells for an evening of stories culled from Bradbury's short stories and novel Dandelion Wine. Dandelion Wine is the first of three novels set in Green Town, which was Brabdury's way of recapturing the rapidly disappearing Midwestern country town of his memory.

Tickets are on sale now at the Genesee Theatre and at For more information about storytelling, this year's program, or ticketing information, please contact Amanda Civitello, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Waukegan Public Library, at or 847-775-2560.

Keynote: Prof. Jonathan R. Eller, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Saturday, October 31, 1:30pm; Waukegan Public Library

Ray Bradbury will again be the star of the show at the Waukegan Public Library on Saturday, October 31, when Professor Jonathan Eller will lead a workshop as part of the Waukegan Public Library's Big Read. The Library was recently awarded a grant to fund through reading initiative designed to energize the community around a single book.

Fittingly scheduled for the author's favorite holiday, the keynote workshop will center on Bradbury's landmark novel Fahrenheit 451. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the many complicated themes at play in a novel that so often is reduced to a single one: censorship.

"Ray Bradbury was insistent that Fahrenheit 451 be read as a cautionary tale against intellectual complacency just as much – if not more so – than as an argument for intellectual freedom," said Richard Lee, Executive Director of the Waukegan Public Library. "It's about much more than censorship."

Dr. Eller is an Americanist at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis specializing in the work of Ray Bradbury. He is the author of several books on Bradbury, including Becoming Ray Bradbury (University of Illinois, 2011). Choice called him "the preeminent biographer of Ray Bradbury." The co-founder and present director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Eller is responsible for maintaining and developing the Bradbury collection at IUPUI, which includes artifacts and ephemera from Bradbury's Los Angeles residence. Eller will answer audience questions after his talk.

The event is free and open to all; registration is not required.

Performance: Ray Bradbury's Pillar of Fire by Bill Oberst Jr.
Saturday, October 31, 3:30pm; Waukegan Public Library

Actor Bill Oberst, Jr. will captivate audiences at the Waukegan Public Library on Saturday, October 31, with a theatrical reading of Ray Bradbury's eerie short story "Pillar of Fire." Oberst's award-winning performance will be free and open to the public. It is the final event of a two-day celebration of Bradbury sponsored by the Library.

Oberst, a Los Angeles-based actor, is passionate about preserving Bradbury's legacy through performance. Described by Broadway World as "a haunting story, masterfully told," Oberst's theatrical reading is a Hollywood Fringe Platinum Award winner. His one-man show will follow his tandem telling of a Bradbury story, "The Foghorn," with Megan Wells at the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival the evening prior.

A Los Angeles actor who plays dark, conflicted characters on film and television, Oberst is perhaps best known for his role as The Killer Woodsman on the CBS-TV series "Criminal Minds," and for his Emmy-award winning performance as the Facebook Stalker in viral video hit "Take This Lollipop." Oberst's roles in horror and cult films, one-man shows and portrayals of historic figures have garnered considerable attention. A stage actor first, Oberst toured the country in a biographical production of Lewis Grizzard, the American writer, a role for which he was chosen by Grizzard's widow, and received critical acclaim for his portrayals of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, as well as for his one-man show "Stand Up! When Comedy Was Funny," which featured Oberst's portrayal of several comedic greats, including Bob Newhart and Woody Allen. For more information and to view Oberst's complete filmography, please visit his profile at while his website is under construction:

The performance is free and open to alll; no registration is required.

The Waukegan Public Library's Fahrenheit 451 Big Read provides for four months of programming for all ages. Events are free and open to the public.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

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