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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Babcock Performing Readers now at Whitmore Library

Nov 11, 2021 09:48AM ● By Gigi Smith

Whitmore Library is where you can find the Babcock Performing Readers the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. (Gigi Smith/City Journals) 

By Gigi Smith | [email protected] 

"Whitmore Library is for everyone and so is Babcock," Joyce Wilson, Babcock Performing Readers historian said.  

There could not be a better venue for bringing literature to life than at a library. The Babcock Performing Readers had been previously located at the University of Utah on the lower level of Pioneer Memorial Theater. Now you can find them at Whitmore Library, 2197 E. Fort Union Blvd. on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. Admission is free.  

Each month, audience members of all ages will be entertained with reading performances under the direction of professionals. See for the 2021-22 line-up. In honor of Halloween, Oct. 21 was "Two by Stephen King," directed by Tobin Atkinson. 

Wilson recounts the history of the Babcock name with a story of how Brigham Young's daughter Susa had been taking classes from Maud May Babcock back east. When Brigham Young moved, he invited Babcock to come west for employment. Internationally renowned and only 23 years old, Babcock turned down higher wages and accepted the offer to come west where she, "established successful classes of oral interpretation at the University of Utah." 

For the course of her life, Babcock was adored by her students and devoted herself to them, oftentimes feeding them and holding rehearsals at her cabin in Brighton. Babcock's intent was to bring books and their words to life making it interesting for everyone. To Babcock's credit, some of her students became senators and mayors who had learned how to express themselves by giving memorable speeches and the knowledge of how to speak to their audiences. 

Being entertained is just one of the many benefits of attending a Babcock Readers Performance. Attendees will find that actors and actresses will be there performing in order to keep their skills in place while waiting for their next film role. Children and adults participate as a tool for building self-esteem, learning self-confidence and training for employment opportunities such as voice overs and reading for the blind. Viewers are considered part of the organization and as a viewer if you have a favorite book or a story that you've written, and you're wanting to see and hear it come to life, you are encouraged to contribute.  

Wilson recalls her earliest experience with bringing "the pages to life" as a three-year-old sitting on Uncle Roscoe's knee as he read “Little Orphan Annie” over the radio. She’d gasp and giggle and in turn, Uncle Roscoe became a better and more entertaining reader. As an adult journalist traveling the world, Wilson found herself in situations where she was under suspicion and threatened with arrest for “asking too many questions.” Using her skills as a confident, engaging speaker who looked her accusers in the eye, allowed her to avoid arrest and experience an exciting, fulfilling career.  

For more information on the history of Babcock Performing Readers see the historical display each month at the Whitmore Library or at the Marriott Library.  

If interested in participating in reading performances, contact Joyce Wilson by email at [email protected].