Edward Albee, Molly Smith to Address Playwrights Conference

Posted: May 24, 2011 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: May 24, 2011 at 10:20 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Edward Albee

Playwright Edward Albee, author of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Photo © Allan Gilmore Photography

Welcoming some of the nation’s most successful dramatists, Mason’s Theater of the First Amendment (TFA) will host “Playwrights in Mind: A National Conversation” June 9-12 at the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel on the university’s Fairfax Campus.

The conference, sponsored by the Dramatists Guild of America, will include educational workshops on contracts, translations, music software and comedy writing, as well as keynote speeches, legal and business seminars and roundtable conversations intended to engage dramatists at all levels.

In addition, new play readings will be conducted throughout the day by some of the nation’s leading playwrights, librettists and composers.

“This conference will help further the mission of Theater of the First Amendment, which is dedicated to discovering, developing and launching new, thought-provoking plays,” says Kevin Murray, managing director of TFA.

“We are very excited to welcome dramatists at any stage in their careers, as well as members of the community, to come together to discuss some of the successes and challenges of our craft and how best to navigate in the years ahead,” Murray adds.

Molly Smith is artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Arena Stage

Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is one of the keynote speakers, as is Todd London, artistic director of New Dramatists in New York, and Julia Jordan, an award-winning playwright.

Other speakers and presenters include:

  • Edward Albee, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning American playwright best known for “The Zoo Story” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
  • Carol Hall, Drama Desk Award-winning American composer and lyricist best known for composing the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
  • Marsha Norman, an American playwright, screenwriter and novelist best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “’night, Mother.”
  • Stephen Schwartz, Academy and Grammy Award-winning American musical theater lyricist and composer of the popular musicals, “Godspell,” “Pippin” and “Wicked.”

“It means a lot to have this gathering of writers from across the country right here in our own backyard at Mason. There will be something for everyone, from students and emerging playwrights to multiple Pulitzer Prize winners,” says Heather McDonald, Mason professor of theater and co-artistic director of TFA.

“Although it is a volatile time in the arts,” McDonald continues, “I’m eager to hear and see what story this gathering of storytellers will be inspired to create next.”

The conference concludes with TFA’s First Light Discovery Program, which gives playwrights an opportunity to continue to develop new plays while working with professional directors, dramaturges and actors. The workshop culminates in public staged readings with audience feedback.

TFA, Mason’s professional theater company, brings to the stage the best artists from the Washington metropolitan region and beyond. Since 1990, TFA has produced 44 full productions and numerous staged readings of new work.

The Dramatists Guild of America is a 6,000-member professional association that helps advance the interests of playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists writing for the living stage.

“The Dramatists Guild is honored to be a part of this conference that recognizes the importance of vibrant and provocative theater to our culture,” says Gary Garrison, executive director of creative affairs for the guild.

“For this type of theater to survive, it is important that we cultivate and protect the unique voices and talents of those who write for it,” Garrison says.

For registration information and a complete schedule of events, see the website.


Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu