The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 16, 2013

Library presents “An Evening of Mystery and Imagination”


TARBORO — “Most people think of librarians as introverts,” said Edgecombe County Memorial Library Director Roman Leary.

Shy is the last thing Leary will be Friday evening, as he dons a black suit and performs a dramatic monologue of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House.”

The “Evening of Mystery and Imagination” begins at 7 p.m., and as Leary says, it’s for anyone who likes scary stories.

“The whole point of it is to bring the story to life,” Leary said. “Hopefully it will be fun and entertaining for everyone who comes to see it.”

Leary will walk out in a black suit and immerse the audience in the Gothic tale, set in 1896 in rural Massachusetts.

“This is a straight-up Gothic horror story about a genealogist who takes shelter from a storm in a house he thinks is abandoned,” Leary said.

But that genealogist is in for a sinister surprise.

The Lovecraft tale has its share of creepy elements, but is interspersed with humor to keep the reader, and in this case, the audience, engaged.

“There’s definitely a thread of sardonic wit that runs through this story, so it’s okay to laugh at it,” Leary said.

“The Picture in the House” is a departure from Lovecraft’s usual style. The 19th century American author grew up in Rhode Island, so New England settings figure prominently in his writing.

Prior to Leary’s dramatic monologue, a reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Friday evening’s performance is in keeping with a tradition Leary started at the library when he became the director in 2009. Originally, the event was called “An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe.”

“Every year, the story has been a story of horror and suspense,” Leary said.

Leary memorized Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” and performed it for middle school students years ago. That went well, so he decided to bring his talent for dramatic storytelling to the library as a “Friends of the Library” event.

”It’s a lot of fun,” said Friends president Paula Martin. “We have a longstanding tradition of bringing different kinds of cultural events or performance events (to the library). We aim for variety. We look for things that will be interesting and fun.”

Admission to Friday’s show is $10. Tickets will be sold in advance at the library and at the door the evening of the show. The library is located at 909 Main St. in Tarboro. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Library.