The tribute to one of the twentieth century's greatest actors kicks off Feb. 9 with a staged reading of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Gielgud portrayed Jack Worthing in productions in London and on Broadway; that role will be played by Henry Stram in the 6 PM reading, which will be directed by Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons. Parsons will also read the role of Lady Bracknell, and the remainder of the cast includes Douglas Sills as Algernon Moncrieff, Laurie Williams as Gwendolen, Katie Macnichol as Cecily, Melissa Leo as Miss Prism, Simon Jones as Rev. Chasuble and Denis Holmes as Merriman/Lane.
The several-month-long series continues Feb. 19 at 6:30 PM with The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde. Merlin Holland, the grandson of Oscar Wilde, will offer a lecture based on his new book.
On Feb. 28 the library will offer Lillian Gish, a Dedicated Life: Her Art, Her Friendships, Her Country at 2 PM. Gielgud appeared with Gish in a 1936 New York production of Hamlet. Their friendship is explored in the nearly 100 letters from Gielgud to Gish that are part of the Library's Lillian Gish Papers. A screening of Irene Worth's one-woman show, A Tribute to Ellen Terry, will be screened at 4 PM that same day. Ellen Terry was Gielgud's great aunt.
Other titles in the series include Gielgud's Chekhov (about Gielgud's Chekhov work as actor and director, March 15 at 6 PM), Chopin Master Class with Pianist Byron Janis (Janis will coach five Juilliard students in the performance of one of Gielgud's favorite composers, March 20 at 2:30 PM), This Gives Life to Thee: Shakespeare's Sonnets in the Work of Sir John Gielgud (a lecture by John Simon, March 27 at 3 PM), From Gielgud to Gish (featuring Brent Carver and other Stratford Festival of Canada actors, March 31 at 7 PM) and Johnny G and Noël C: Reflections on a 50-Year Friendship (Richard Easton, Simon Jones, Hayley Mills and Jason Lawson in Barry Day's new play, May 3 at 6 PM).
All programs will be held in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Admission is free and is on a first-come, first-served basis. For the opening program on Feb. 9, free single tickets will be distributed two hours before curtain. For further information, call (212) 642-0142.