NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
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STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS
LEADING PLAYWRIGHT OF HIS GENERATION, AND 1990 UALBANY ALUM
NYS Writers Institute, April 12, 2010
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center 375
8:00 p.m. Reading | RecitalHall, Performing Arts Center
Stephen Adly Guirgis, leading playwright of his generation and 1990 UAlbany alumnus, will speak about his work on the stage, in film and on television, at 8:00 p.m., Monday, April 12, 2010, in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in Campus Center 375 on the uptown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, the events are free and open to the public.
Stephen Adly Guirgis began his career as an actor, studying in the Theatre Department at the University at Albany, and joining the upstart (now widely influential) LAByrinth Theatre Company in 1994. The New York City company was also home to Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has directed five of Guirgis’s plays to date. Guirguis wrote one of the company’s first plays, “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings,” which, in a later 2007 production, received the LA Drama Critics “Best Play” and “Best Writing” Awards.
A lapsed Catholic and former violence prevention specialist in New York prisons, Guirgis drew from his own life experiences in writing “Jesus Hopped the A Train” (2000), a play about two inmates, one who has found faith and the other for whom faith has become a subject of anger and confusion. Reviewer Les Gutman said in “CurtainUp” that Guirgis “ventures into the terra incognita of contemporary American theater— theatrical and intellectual waters for which others lack the temerity or strength to tread.”
“Our Lady of 121st Street” was produced in 2003 and is set in a New York funeral home after the body of a beloved nun has been stolen. A group of embittered individuals wait for the body’s return, airing personal grievances. In “Variety,” Charles Isherwood remarked that the play “confirms Guirgis is an exciting talent with a gift for raw but rich dialogue and an entertaining ability to find the absurd humor in emotional extremis.”
“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” (2005) takes place in a Purgatory courtroom as a judge considers Judas’s case. Characters speak for or against the accused, including Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Satan, Sigmund Freud, and a guy named Butch. “Daily Variety’s” Marilyn Stasio said, “Stephen Adly Guirgis has written a real jaw-dropper…. His imagination is dazzling and his command of language downright thrilling.” The work was named one of the ten best plays of 2007 by “Time” and “Entertainment Weekly.”
Guirgis’s television credits include “The Sopranos” and “NYPD Blue.” His film acting credits include the forthcoming “Margaret” (2010) with Matt Damon, “Jack Goes Boating” (2010), starring and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Synecdoche, New York” (2008), also starring Hoffman, “Noise” (2007), starring Tim Robbins, and “Meet Joe Black” (1998), starring Brad Pitt.
Guirgis graduated from the University at Albany in 1990 and will be introduced by his former teacher W. Langdon Brown.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute
at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.