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Michael Mayer
Michael Mayer

12th Annual Burian Lecture
Sponsored by the Department of Theatre and
Co-sponsored by the NYS Writers Institute



NYS Writers Institute, February 7, 2008
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
8:00 p.m. Burian Lecture | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Michael Mayer, 2007 Tony Award winner for “Best Director” for the Broadway musical “Spring Awakening,” a boldly original rock musical about teenage sexuality set in 19th Germany, will deliver the 12th Annual Burian Lecture on Thursday, February 7, 2008 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. Mayer will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the UAlbany Theatre Department, and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment.

Michael Mayer is a major contemporary theatre director whose work has helped to reinvent the Broadway musical for the 21st century. Widely regarded as one of the “brightest lights” of the Great White Way, Mayer has been called the “busiest director in New York City” (“Backstage” magazine).
Mayer received the 2007 Tony Award for “Best Director” for the Broadway blockbuster, “Spring Awakening” (2006), which also earned “Best Musical,” “Best Choreography,” “Best Original Score,” “Best Book for a Musical,” “Best Orchestrations,” “Best Lighting Design,” and “Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical” (John Gallagher, Jr.).

A boldly original work, “Spring Awakening” is a rock musical set in 19th century Germany. It is based on the controversial 1891 Frank Wedekind play that so daringly depicted teenage sexual discovery that it was banned from the stage for almost 100 years. The play is faithful to Wedekind’s original script, a series of interlinked dramatic vignettes, but the new score provides a vital added dimension, permitting the characters to give vent to the anguish and exhilaration of puberty in the unrestrained language of rock and roll.

Grayce Burian and Michale MayerCharles Isherwood, writing in the “New York Times,” said, “Broadway, with its often puerile sophistication and its sterile romanticism, may never be the same.... this brave new musical, haunting and electrifying by turns, restores the mystery, the thrill and quite a bit of the terror to that shattering transformation that stirs in all our souls....”

Mayer has received three previous “Best Director” Tony nominations:   for the revival of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” (1998), for which he also received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director; the revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (1999); and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2001), which earned a Tony for “Best Musical,” as well as the Drama Desk Award. Other Broadway credits include the Drama Desk winner, “Side Man” (1998), which was presented as a play-in-progress by the New York State Writers Institute’s Authors Theatre program, and a Drama Desk Outstanding Revival award for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” 

Mayer made his feature film directorial debut with “A Home at the End of the World” (2004), based on the novel by Michael Cunningham. More recently he directed the family film, “Flicka” (2006).
Michael Mayer will deliver the 12th Annual Burian Lecture, a yearly event that brings leading scholars and practitioners of the art of the theatre to the Albany campus. It is funded by Jarka and Grayce Susan Burian Endowment.

The late Jarka Burian taught in the Theatre Department at UAlbany from 1955 to 1993. He was the leading American scholar of Czech theatre and author of the award-winning book "The Scenography of Josef Svoboda," a seminal critical study of the work of one of the twentieth century's most influential theatrical designers. Grayce Susan Burian, who received her M.A. degree from UAlbany and also taught there, is best known for her long tenure as the director of the theatre program, which she founded, at Schenectady Community College.

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