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Masonís Theater of the First Amendment Hosts National Playwrights Conference

May. 23, 2011

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Edward Albee and Stephen Schwartz Among Dramatists Attending

Fairfax, Va. – Welcoming some of the nation’s most successful dramatists, George Mason University’s Theater of the First Amendment will host the conference, “Playwrights in Mind: A National Conversation.” The conference opens on Thursday, June 9 at 3 p.m. and continues through Sunday, June 12 at noon at the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel on the university’s Fairfax Campus.

The conference is sponsored by the Dramatists Guild of America and will include a series of educational workshops on topics such as contracts, translations, music software and comedy writing, as well as keynote speeches, legal and business seminars and roundtable conversations intended to engage dramatists of 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 Theater of the First Amendment. “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.” 

The conference will feature keynote speakers Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; Todd London, artistic director of New Dramatists in New York City; 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 stage 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, Oscar 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 coartistic director of Theater of the First Amendment. “Although it is a volatile time in the arts, I’m eager to hear and see what story this gathering of storytellers will be inspired to create next.” 

The conference concludes with Theater of the First Amendment’s First Light Discovery Program, which provides playwrights with 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.

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

The Dramatists Guild of America is a professional association with more than 6,000 members which helps to 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 of the Dramatists Guild of America. “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.”

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

About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.

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