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Beyond the Wizard: An Introduction to the Land of Oz
March 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
Learn the History and Philosophy of L Frank Baum’s Imaginary World!
A FREE Lecture By Roger Forman (Oz scholar and frequent visitor to the Emerald City)
“Ask most people about the Land of Oz and they’ll tell you about Dorothy and Toto who set off with the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City in search of the Wizard.” Forman explained. “But few people realize that the story told in the iconic movie, “The Wizard of Oz” was just the beginning. “
In fact, the Wizard of Oz was the first of fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum. Not to mention the nineteen written by his successor Ruth Plumley Thompson and the countless other adaptations that are still being published.
Forman devoured the Oz books when he was a boy, joyfully entering the fantasy world inhabited not just by munchkins and winged monkeys, but by Quadlings and Winkies and characters named things like General Jinjur, Tik-Tok, H.M. Wogglebug, TE and the Patchwork Girl.
Forman’s favorite character is named Buttonbright and he has even taken it for his own nickname when hiking. “Buttonbright was the first boy in the Land of Oz. He was always lost but always happy.”
As an adult, the books stuck with Forman. He read them to his children and now he’s reading them to the fifth graders at Marlinton Elementary. Somewhere along the way, Forman began to realize that there was a lot more to the Land of Oz than the fairy tale world he enjoyed escaping to as a child.
“There’s an underlying philosophy to the stories that I think is very good. Baum was both a feminist and a pacifist and it was reflected in his writing for children.” Forman said. “There were wars in the land of Oz but fighting was ridiculed and peace was quickly brokered. And it was the Patchwork Girl who succeeded the Scarecrow and brought peace and prosperity to the Land of Oz.”
But not everyone agreed that the Oz Books were good for children. In the 1950s and 1960s the books were labeled “unwholesome” and accused of “having no value for the children of today.” They were actually banned in many libraries across the country.
But for fans like Roger Forman, the Land of Oz remains as enchanting and relevant today as when they were written in the early 1900s. He hopes you’ll join him there on March 13 at the Opera House.
This lecture is part of the Ruth Morgan Lecture Series and is given in conjunction with performances of the The Hampstead Theater’s adaption of The Wizard of Oz at Pocahontas County Elementary schools. Those performances are sponsored by a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation.