NOTED PLAYWRIGHT LANFORD WILSON JOINS
UH SCHOOL OF THEATRE FACULTY
‘Hot L Baltimore’ Author Will Collaborate with Edward
Albee on ‘Playwrights’ Workshop’
HOUSTON, Jan. 16, 2004 – The tradition of recruiting some
of the greatest names in theater for its faculty continues at the
University of Houston. Renowned playwright Lanford Wilson has joined
the School of Theatre.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, known for such works as “Hot
L Baltimore” and “Talley’s Folly,” will
teach two courses in the upcoming Spring 2004 semester. He will
be working in partnership with UH Distinguished Professor of Theatre
Edward Albee in preparing student scripts for Albee’s annual
“I’m excited to become part of an institution that
has such passion for the theatrical arts,” Wilson said. “I’m
not sure I can get used to being called ‘Professor Wilson,’
but I am looking forward to working with the students.
It’s so invigorating to be around people who really love
the theater.” He holds the title Distinguished Lecturer.
“We’re honored to continue the mission of bringing the
very best professional artists to this university,” said
Sidney Berger, director of the School of Theatre. “Obviously,
Lanford’s presence will be a great resource for our theater
students, but it will also help take Houston’s cultural reputation
up another notch.”
Wilson joins an illustrious School of Theatre teaching roster that
currently includes Sir Peter Hall, creator of the
Royal Shakespeare Company; Tony Award-winning Broadway producer
Stuart Ostrow; stage designer Kevin Rigdon, who has worked with
the Royal National Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre and the Kennedy
Center; and Albee, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama.
Wilson’s work, with its themes of alienation and fading illusions,
has been compared favorably to the plays of William Inge, Lillian
Hellman and Tennessee Williams. One literary analysis of his plays,
Anne Dean’s book
“Discovery and Invention,” cites several recurring
Wilson themes: the importance of individuality and personal history,
the necessity to preserve the past and learn from it and, especially,
the importance of familial support - surrogate or otherwise. New
York Times critic has applauded him “a writer who illuminates
the deepest dramas of American life with poetry and compassion.”
Wilson began writing as a student at the University of Chicago
in the late 1950s. After graduation, he moved to New York City and
became involved with the Off-Off-Broadway scene as a playwright,
actor and director. His first play, “So Long at the Fair”
was produced by Caffé Chino in 1963. His massive Bohemian
study “Balm in Gilead,” with some 35 characters, was
staged at Café La Mama in 1965. In 1969, he co-founded the
critically acclaimed Circle Repertory Company and served as resident
playwright for three decades. The first major success was “Hot
L Baltimore” Wilson’s 1975 effort about a shabby hotel
whose clientele included old-age pensioners, derelicts and prostitutes.
He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1979 for “Talley’s
Folly,” a two-character romance set in the 1940s in which
a Jewish accountant from St. Louis woos Sally Talley, the daughter
of a well-to-do, WASP-ish family.
Other plays include “The Mound Builders” (1975), “Fifth
of July” (1978), “Angels Fall” (1982), “Burn
This” (1988) and “Book of Days” (2001).
Wilson’s appointment is for the spring semester only, but
Berger expressed hope that Wilson would consider extending his affiliation
with the UH School of Theatre. “Having a talent of Lanford’s
stature here is exactly the sort of undertaking that we’re
interested in as we begin developing the Mitchell Center for the
Arts,” Berger said, referring to UH’s new $20 million
program. (See http://www.uh.edu/newsroom/centerforarts/)
Wilson was recruited by Albee to collaborate with him in supervising
this year’s Playwright’s Workshop, the annual showcase
of new work being staged by UH students. Wilson and Albee worked
together to select the students and projects for the event. Wilson
will teach the two day-to-day courses – playwrighting and
production – that help develop the new works and Albee will
be on hand to help oversee their staging in April.
This will be the 15th edition of the Albee Playwright’s Workshop.
For more information about the UH School of Theatre, visit the Web
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research
and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers
and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate,
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in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and
service with more than 35,000 students.
For more information about UH visit the universitys Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.