The 13th Annual Burian Lecture
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.”
Gurney 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).
The “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.”
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.