Wilson Library Scaries

Wilson Library is one of my least favorite places to study on campus, yet one of my most favorite place to conduct study. By conducting study, I specifically mean searching through archival material found within the North Carolina and Southern Historical collection. In ENGL 123, we visited the reading room to observe archival material for Robinson Crusoe, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein and Jane Eyre. It’s interesting what we observed, from comic books to playbills. The latter was something that caught my interest as I’m a dramatist so it’s attractive in how theatre advertisements show things. The Jane Eyre Playbill was the first artifact I examined. It’s long letters were the first thing that caught my eye. Interestingly enough, the main actresses name was larger than that of the character she played or play name. It’s a technique used by companies when promoting an upcoming motion picture. An “Academy Award-Winning” by an actor/actresses name does the trick in laying legitimacy to a portrayal. At the time of this production, she must’ve been well renown for previous works. Thus, it makes it a big deal that she’s playing Jane instead of vice versa. Seems a bit narcissistic but keep it noted. Underneath the characters names are how each scene is divided up into acts. There’s references to what occurs in each section. As a person who’s watch the film for class, I know what to expect. Someone coming in who isn’t familiar would be questioning the references. What’s traditional about this is the audience of the early ages came into performances with anticipation in acts for what to look out for. I expect that this performance does the same due justice in having no surprises. But with adaptations, there’s always room for a few adjustments. For example, a few years ago Playmakers Repertory Company put on a rendition of Sweeney Todd. But I can recall the big hoopla being the protagonist was portrayed as black. The same goes for the new Company Carolina play “Godspell” where the campus newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, highlighted that Jesus was being played by a black women. These colorblind roles can be confusing but as long as the same messages are conveyed, the original story stays intact. Looking at the playbill as an object, it’s very fragile. So weak that its wrapped in plastic and we aren’t allowed to lift it up. The fabric of the material shows its age in its yellow spots and brown paper. It’s important that Wilson preserves this kind of material so it isn’t destroyed. Other objects around the room have similar conditions. One book for Robinson Crusoe is so fragile that the pages had to be lifted by two hands. The book copy of Frankenstein is so sensitive, we couldn’t open it up for a read. That’s why its vital that these materials are taken good care of as they contain great information, but in a not so great condition. Glad to see to see the first-years in the class exposed to an excellent resource on campus. It won’t be the last time them or I come here.