Programming will include novel’s first theatrical adaptation, written by Carthage playwright Mikaley Osley ’14
Members of the Carthage Class of 2018 may not be official Carthage students until September, but thanks to a new First Year Read experience, they’ll have the opportunity to engage with each other and a compelling novel before the school year even begins.
Early this summer, all members of the incoming class will receive a copy of the novel Day After Night by Anita Diamant. Students will be asked to read the novel during the summer. Come September, the novel will feature prominently in the College’s New Student Orientation. There will be small book discussions led by Carthage professors, as well as other special activities.
Consider it an appetizer — a taste of everything to come, said Jason Ramirez, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Carthage.
“The wonderful thing about a common read program is that it is an opportunity for freshmen to work together, and to learn in a fun way what it means to be a college student and think like a college student,” Mr. Ramirez said. “It will ease them into their transition to Carthage.”
About the Book
Day After Night (Scribner, 2009) is the fourth novel by best-selling author and award-winning journalist Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent.
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and The Salt Lake Tribune, Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than 200 prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military. The novel follows four young women at the camp who survived the Holocaust. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, the women find salvation in friendship as they face the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.
“It’s about four young women, their decisions, and how those decisions impact their lives,” making it a perfect First Year Read book, Mr. Ramirez said. Beyond literature, the novel has ties to history, religion, sociology, political science, women’s and gender studies, and psychology. “There are many opportunities to draw on this book in a rich, interdisciplinary fashion.”
Coming to a Stage Near You
Day After Night is such a powerful story that a play based on the novel, written by current Carthage senior Mikaley Osley ’14, will be staged on the Carthage Theatre Main Stage in Fall 2014. Mikaley, who will graduate in May with a degree in theatre and English, worked for three years with theatre professor Herschel Kruger to adapt Day After Night into a play.
The adaptation was Prof. Kruger’s idea.
“He came to me at the end of my freshman year because he knew I wanted to be a playwright,” Mikaley said. “He told me he had a book that would make a great play, and to work on it over the summer.” Her sophomore year, Mikaley did an independent study with Prof. Kruger to work on the adaptation. The following summer, they applied for and received one of Carthage’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience grants, which fund full-time summer research for students and faculty mentors. Mikaley finished the play her junior year, and she and Prof. Kruger held readings at a local synagogue and on campus.
It was an incredibly difficult but rewarding experience, Mikaley said. “When you’re adapting, the goal is to keep the spirit of the story alive, but you’re going from a book, where readers can read the characters’ thoughts, to the stage, where the audience can only hear their conversations with other characters.”
Spurring Conversations for the Entire First Year
Mikaley’s play will be the first student-written play produced on Carthage’s Main Stage, and is one of many reasons Day After Night was selected for the First Year Read program.
“A successful First Year Read really needs to be tied to other types of programming and have different avenues for students to engage with the work,” said Prof. Kruger, who proposed Day After Night for this year’s common read.
The novel was selected by a committee of faculty, staff, and students, who will now finalize a full year of programming associated with the novel.
“The First Year Read is an opportunity to have a shared experience with the first-year class, and then use that shared experience to help them understand what it means to academically engage with the institution and each other,” Mr. Ramirez said.
“This is a story. It’s not a textbook. But students will be able to glean certain ideas from the book and apply those concepts to whatever discipline they’re studying,” he continued. “It will help our incoming class feel connected to Carthage and each other.
“It’s a way for us to say, ‘You’re part of us. Start reading this book and let’s do these projects together.’”