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A.R. Gurney
A. R. Gurney

The 13th Annual Burian Lecture
Sponsored by the Department of Theatre and
Co-sponsored by the NYS Writers Institute


MAJOR AMERICAN DRAMATIST, AUTHOR OF SUCH CLASSIC PLAYS AS “LOVE LETTERS” AND “THE DINING ROOM,” TO SPEAK ABOUT HIS WORK

 


NYS Writers Institute, April 15, 2009
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
8:00 p.m. Burian Lecture | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

CALENDAR LISTING:
A. R. Gurney,
major American playwright known for comic work that examines the manners and mores of the upper middle class, will deliver the 13th Annual Burian Lecture on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. 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 playwright will offer an informal seminar in the same location. The events, which are free and open to the public, are cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany’s Department of Theatre, and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment

 

PROFILE
A. R. Gurney,
who has been writing for the American stage since the 1950s, is one of the few major playwrights whose past and new workcontinues to be performed widely four decades later. Author of more than 40 plays, the Buffalo, New York native is best-known for trenchant and comic work that examines the manners and mores of the upper middle-class. Frank Rich of the “New York Times” said Gurney has “claimed John Cheever’s territory for the stage.” Gurney’s skill at depicting the decline of the American gentry also invites frequent and favorable comparison with Chekhov.

As he approaches his 80th year, Gurney continues to capture critical attention and admiration with new work for the stage. BenBrantley of the “New York Times” recently wrote, “…Aside from … Horton Foote, no eminent American playwright of the last few decades rivals the staying power and productivity of Mr. Gurney.”

William Kennedy and A.R. GurneyGurney has often paid tribute to his home city of Buffalo— from his very first published play, “Love in Buffalo” (1958), to more recent works such as “Crazy Mary” (2007), about a middle-aged manic depressive woman locked up in a pricey mental health facility, and “Buffalo Gal,” the story of an aging half-forgotten starlet who returns to the beleaguered upstate city of her youth to pursue her love of theatre.

Classic works by Gurney include “Screen Play” (2005), “Mrs. Farnsworth” (2004), “O Jerusalem” (2003), “Ancestral Voices” (2000), the Pulitzer-nominated “Love Letters” (1990), “The Cocktail Hour” (1988), “The Perfect Party” (1986), “The Dining Room” (1982), “The Golden Age” (1981), “The Middle Ages” (1977), and “Children” (1974).

A.R. GurneyThe “Booklist” reviewer said of Gurney, regarding the publication of his fifth volume of collected plays in 2002, “His work really shines on the page, where a careful reader can linger over his felicitous phrasing and exquisite sense of dramatic structure— qualities all too often lost on live theater audiences, in which sensibilities deadened by a pop culture lacking all subtlety predominate.”
Gurney’s newest play, “A Light Lunch” (2008), is a political satire about life under the presidency of George W. Bush.

NOTE: Prior to Gurney’s visit, the Writers Institute will screen a television production of his classic play “Love Letters” on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. “Love Letters” (United States, 1999, 100 minutes, color) was directed by Stanley Donen and stars Steven Weber and Laura Linney. A. R. Gurney’s much-loved, Pulitzer-nominated play follows the letter correspondence between a man and woman through four stages of life, from age seven to decrepit old age.


For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.