Vol. 40, No.2 Winter 2011
In this Issue
Remembering Karen Aqua and Derrick Bell Medal Day 2011: Honoring the Playwright 2011 National Council Trip Fellowships
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architects | composers | filmmakers | interdisciplinary artists | theatre | visual artists | writers
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LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR
The MacDowell Colony
Medal Day is always special, but celebrating Edward Albee as the 2011 Edward MacDowell Medalist this summer was especially significant for several reasons: There was the added weight of Albee being only the third playwright to receive the Medal in its 52-year history, his recollection of a run-in with Thornton Wilder while visiting the Colony as a young artist, and the coincidental fact that he is the only Medalist to have founded his own residency program. The Edward F. Albee Foundation in Montauk, New York, is 40-plus-years strong, and hundreds of artists have worked there thanks to Albee’s support. Though the MacDowell Medal was given in recognition of his genius, a second medal is surely deserved for the generous reinvestment he has made to help develop the genius of others. Such help is sorely needed. With the current economic climate, we are seeing an extraordinary increase in demand for the services we provide to artists; there has been a 35 percent increase in applications over the last two years. This means that there are many disappointed applicants. Having written many grant applications and appeals for MacDowell, I know from personal experience what it is like to wait to hear whether it will be a “yes” or a “no” — one has to have patience, industry, and a certain conviction that what you are doing is worthy. Being able to say “yes” is what MacDowell is all about. The “yes” from the artist who decides to make the work, the “yes” from the panel that reviews it, the “yes” from the donors who make residencies possible, and the “yes” that MacDowell provides by removing obstacles and giving artists the freedom they need to create. Here’s to the yeses!
Cheryl A. Young Executive Director
Karen Aqua passed away on May 30th in Boston, Massachusetts. A producer, director, and animator for Sesame Street, she completed 11 films that screened at film festivals around the world. Together with her husband, Ken Field, she participated in MacDowell’s Peterborough Projects Centennial program in 2007, supervising seventh-grade students at Mountain Shadows School in Dublin, New Hampshire, in the production of the stop-action animation film In the Shadow of Monadnock. She was 57.
Ellen Foscue Johnson
advocate Derrick Bell died in Manhattan on October 5th at the age of 80. The first African American to become tenured at Harvard Law School, he was the author of Race, Racism, and American Law (1973), which is a standard textbook in law schools across the country. Known for resigning from various faculty positions during his career in protest of discriminatory practices in the workplace, he authored numerous articles and books about racism and ethics including And We Are Not Saved (1989), Faces at the Bottom of the Well (1992), and Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth (2002). He had residencies at MacDowell in 1979, 1995, and 1998.
Karen Aqua_Animator and three-time MacDowell Fellow
Derrick Bell_Writer, law professor, and civil rights
“I came to MacDowell with the vague notion that I would write poems about my Welsh ancestry and the Welsh country side. I had been reading John K. Bollard’s excellent recent translation of The Mabinogi and Poet Dylan Willoughby had visited my family in Wales, but it was only when I got to MacDowell that inspi ration struck. On one of my first walks, I stumbled upon the moss-covered amphithe atre as if happening upon a secret haunt of the dead. When I got back to MacDowell Studio, nestled in the woods, surrounded by ‘tombstones,’ my mind took me to Ffynone Falls — the precise geographic location of the entry into the underworld — and my grandmother appeared.” Quotable
| By Dylan Willoughby
Here, I happened upon the afterworld Creviced behind Ffynone Falls As I wandered alongside the Dulas A specter from the before life You met me there, nonchalant as the dead Can sometimes be, you startled me With a stillness we don’t yet possess And I didn’t recognize you I thought you might bargain for an exchange Another year in my shoes While I got to see what I was in for But you weren’t hungry for this place Haunting’s something the living invent, You said, no need to reminisce About betrayals and loss and loss How I longed to see you again, I said You were cool but not unkind in your goodbye I closed my eyes before you left, Not wanting to remember you vanishing Twice. I stood by the broken pool.
Artist Awards, Grants, and Fellowships More Awards, Grants, and Fellowships
Michael G. Stewart
Reginal Edmund was inducted into the ranks of Chicago Dramatists’s resident playwrights in October. Shown here in Calderwood Studio in 2009, he is currently at work on a nine-play series titled The City of the Bayou Collection, which includes two plays he worked on at MacDowell. “The MacDowell Colony allowed me to be an artist, and opened up my mind to believe in myself. I am thankful for that experience, and will forever hold a place in my memories of my time there.”
Composer Robert Ward received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Opera Honors Award for lifetime achievement on October 27th at the Sidney Harman Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Shown above onstage at the NEA ceremony with NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, Ward is best known for his opera The Crucible (1962), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. He had a residency at MacDowell in 1938.
Hasan Elahi, Interdisciplinary Artist Art Matters Grant
Lorraine O’Grady, Interdisciplinary Artist Art Matters Grant
Melissa James Gibson, Playwright Steinberg Playwright Award
Daniel Orozco, Writer Whiting Writers’ Award
Eduardo Corral, Poet Whiting Writers’ Award
Suzan-Lori Parks, Playwright American Academy of Arts and Letters Award
Lisa D’Amour, Playwright Steinberg Playwright Award
Suzanne Rivecca, Writer Rome Fellowship
Alice Fulton, Poet American Academy of Arts and Letters Award
Tom Sleigh, Writer John Updike Award
Adam Gwon, Theatre Lyricist Kleban Prize
Bruce Smith, Poet National Book Award Finalist
Lisa Kron, Playwright Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award
Monique Truong, Writer Rosenthal Family Foundation Award
Dan LeFranc, Playwright Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award
always work from the environment I’m in. I came to MacDowell with nothing other than a title, which I had stolen from a building off the freeway in Baltimore, and a small library of books. This piece, about a conscious building, was born from the mood of New Jersey Studio in win ter. It was just after a huge ice storm, there was a wall of snow piling up on a fallen tree in front of the broad window, and a sense of presence of all the writers who had shared that room, and all these things laid the groundwork for the mood of the piece (there are even lunch baskets tucked into the narra tive!). Conversations with installation artists also in residence and a studio showing of architectural sketches gave me new formal structures to bring into my theatrical imagining. But more than that, what MacDowell gave me was the first truly sustained period of writing I’ve ever experienced, and the first sense of freedom to actually think of myself as a writer. This didn’t generate a sense of grandiosity so much as a sense of both capability and willingness to follow the work wherever it wanted to go. I still draw on that sense of concentration and peacefulness now, wherever I’m working.”
—Playwright Karinne Keithley (above), who won a Bessie Award (a New York dance and performance award) in October for Montgomery Park or Opulence, the piece she mentions above. She started working on this performance piece from scratch when she was at MacDowell in December 2008–January 2009. Karinne Keithley (far right) and Katy Pyle performing in Montgomery Park or Opulence at Incubator Arts Project in New York.
More New & Notable Projects Eric William Carroll, Photographer Plato’s Home Movies, exhibition Hilary Jordan, Writer When She Woke, fiction Tom Kundig, Architect Houses 2, monograph Anne Makepeace, Filmmaker We Still Live Here, documentary
Planned to coincide with New York’s Fashion Week in September was a collaborative project between architect Mark Foster Gage and Nicola Formichetti, fashion director for Lady Gaga. Managed by the nonprofit organization Boffo with the aim of fusing ideas from architecture and design in an experimental form, the installation is described by Gage as a “faceted, robotic, mirrored chapel that, through millions of reflections, produces a stunning environment to view fashion in surprising new ways.” Made accessible to the general public for two weeks in September, the project will be reassembled on Greene Street in New York in the coming months, according to Gage.
Christian McEwen, Writer World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down, nonfiction
Untitled (Headpiece), 20.25” x 33”, graphite on paper, 2010, by Dane Patterson.
Paula Matthusen, Composer Time, electronic score for ballet
Dane Patterson, Visual Artist Again, and again, and again . . . exhibition
The work of two-time MacDowell Fellow and painter Hunt Slonem was highlighted in the “Style Sheet” column of Elle Décor magazine’s November issue. “He’s right up there with Richard Serra and Donald Baechler,” says the magazine, “art stars whose works routinely turn up on the walls of some of the chicest homes.” Art lovers everywhere can now enjoy a retrospective of Slonem’s 30-year career with The Worlds of Hunt Slonem, a catalogue of essays about, and images of, Slonem’s work by Dominique Nahas. Released by Vendome Press in October, the 288-page book includes 600 striking color illustrations of, and seven chapters organized around themes found in, Slonem’s work. Interested in seeing Slonem’s work in person? Stop by his latest solo exhibition, which is running at New York’s Marlborough Gallery from December 7th through January 7th. Shown right is Slonem’s Mongolia, 40” x 30”, oil on canvas, 2010.
Joel Sanders, Architect Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture, nonfiction Greg Spears, Composer Requiem, CD Meira Warshauer, Composer Living Breathing Earth, CD
Pasadena became the first city in California’s San Gabriel Valley to utilize vinyl wrap application as an art medium on utility boxes in September when interdisciplinary artist Susan Silton mounted her site-specific installation Utility. A Los Angelesbased artist, Silton uses a combination of traditional and new media to make art for unconventional contexts including billboards, the Internet, and public venues. Commissioned by the Pasadena Playhouse District in an effort to bring art into the public space, Utility explores the idea of the freedom of expression via a creative combination of historic agitprop graphics, selected quotes from American leaders, and a symbolic 1964 photograph of a Berkeley Free Speech Movement protest printed on vinyl and wrapped around five utility boxes on Pasadena’s Colorado Avenue. The installation will remain in place for at least a year. Silton recently received a grant from Art Matters for travel to the Canary Islands, where she will work with women practitioners of the whistling language Silbo Gomero.
Courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse District
When writer Julie Salamon (pictured below, left) came to work in MacDowell’s Banks Studio in 2010, she was finishing up the only authorized biography of the late Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright (and two-time MacDowell Fellow) Wendy Wasserstein. “I had only a week [at MacDowell] that came near the end of my project. Being isolated without the distractions of the Internet and daily life gave me great focus,” says Salamon who, after almost 300 interviews with Wasserstein’s family members and friends — and full access to her private papers, journals, and letters — crafted a personal, moving portrait of one of the most profound and influential female figures in American theatre. Published by Penguin Press in August, Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein gives insight into of the life of a truly remarkable woman and playwright.
New & Notable
A project that composer Tarik O’Regan (pictured above, top, in Chapman Studio) worked on at MacDowell in 2006 — the opera Heart of Darkness, based on Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name — had its world premiere at London’s Royal Opera House in early November. A co-production of Opera East Productions and ROH2 (in association with American Opera Projects, New York), the one-act opera — scored for eight singers and 13 instruments — is O’Regan’s first. His third album on the Harmonia Mundi label, Acallam na Senórach (Tales of the Elders) was released this fall.
The MacDowell Colony
The MacDowell Colony
Top left, front row (l to r): President Susan Davenport Austin, Edward Albee, and Executive Director Cheryl Young. Back row (l to r): Resident Director David Macy, Chairman Michael Chabon, and Mike Nichols. Top right: Edward Albee greets the Medal Day crowd.
Honor For only the third time since it was first awarded in 1960, the Edward MacDowell Medal was given in tribute to a playwright in August — a giant in the field who has made an indelible impact on American theatre with his courageous and emotionally wrenching work: Edward Albee. Medal Day has become a not-to-be-missed cultural event, and this year was no exception; more than 1,500 guests made their way to the Colony to celebrate Albee and his work, including acclaimed film and theatre director Mike Nichols, who introduced Albee to the crowd as
Chairman of the Board
Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome. My name is Michael Chabon, and I am thrilled to be here for this day of personal firsts: my first Medal Day, my first time presiding over Medal Day as the new chairman of the Colony, and the first time that my long-suffering children get to see this fabled and cursed and unimaginable place, far away on the other side of the country from our home in Berkeley, California: The MacDowell Colony, its name so strangely evocative of a hive of ants, perhaps, or a
sanctum where, amid the beeches and alders, on a moonlit night in the deep of February, with a phrase of Melville in your head, and a thousand words under your belt, and a well-cooked supper in your belly, you cannot hear your children crying to watch another episode of Spongebob, no matter how loud they scream. I’ve been trying to draw a line between my work and that of our distinguished — I am tempted to use the word revered — Medalist, Edward Albee, and the common theme that I keep coming back to is the tension, whether fruitful or destructive, between the family and the freak, between what you inherit and what part of that inheritance you spurn. Freaks, by definition, betray their heritages, and in the work of Mr.
the raw materials of earth, stone, and steel; to generate vivid illusions and waking dreams; to harness the kinetic energies of their own bodies; and to connect, directly, with the thoughts and emotions of another human being. Sound like anyplace you know? My attention as a writer has always been drawn to our second families: to the families we find, make, invent, contrive. Because so many of us — whether or not we make art or can turn our bodies into organic vibranium — feel like freaks, like mutants, oppressed by the heritage that defines us, born, as the covers of old Marvel Comics used to routinely put it, INTO A WORLD WE NEVER MADE! There is the world you are born into, and the world you make for
“There is the place you come from, and the place where you belong. For so many of us — mutants, artists — that second place, that refuge, is MacDowell.” Medalist Edward Albee shares a moment at Medal Day with MacDowell Chairman Michael Chabon.
domed city on an alien planet, which for many years now has swallowed up both their father and their mother for weeks on end, with only a postcard picture of a picnic basket, the proverbial lousy t-shirt, and another damn novel to show for it. My first residency at MacDowell was 15 years ago. I was driven to come here by the eldest of those children (we now have four), whose infancy and toddlerhood were taking up far more of my time and attention than I, or my career as a writer, had reckoned on. But maybe “taking up my time and attention” is not the correct formulation. Maybe it would be more exact to say “sucking me dry with a fiendishness that approached the vampiric.” One day — at the time we still lived in Los Angeles — I was sitting around kvetching (I mean, conferring) with a colleague, the brilliant novelist Mona Simpson, who was also newly a parent. It was Mona who first revealed to me the mysteries of this pastoral
Albee we see, so often, how the heritage, the family, and the society one is born into try to exact their revenge for that betrayal. Thinking of freaks makes me think about comic books. Of course, some people might suggest that everything makes me think about comic books, but I don’t see any problem there. Understand comic books, my friends, and you understand the cosmos. Now, in the world of Marvel Comics, some of your costumed heroes have their powers thrust upon them; some achieve their powers through work and dedication; and some strange and tormented souls are just born that way. These last are known as mutants. Freaks. Outcasts, hunted and solitary, often despised by the rest of humankind. The luckiest among them find their way to Professor X’s big, rambling country estate somewhere to the north of New York City, where, in the company of their own strange kind, they are welcomed and sheltered and fed, and given everything they require to fulfill their freaky potential, to draw out and find the limits of their power: of their ability to light up the darkness; to generate new sonic textures; to shape and control
yourself out of choices and affinities and love; out of words, rebar, quarter notes, or pixels. There is your family of origin, and the family that you choose for yourself, that you luck into. There is the place you come from, and the place where you belong. For so many of us — mutants, artists — that second place, that refuge, is MacDowell. No matter how alone, how isolated, how misunderstood, how just plain weird you feel, you come here, and you look around the dining table, and you say, “Wow, I’m actually a lot more normal than I thought.” No, what you think is, “I’ll be safe here. I will be understood. I will be encouraged, and supported, and challenged to measure up to my own goals and ambitions for myself and my work.” Those are all things that every self-respecting family, I believe, ought to aspire to provide for its members. MacDowell has been doing it, and doing it in style, for more than a century. Welcome, then, to Medal Day. Welcome to MacDowell. And welcome, my fellow mutants, to the family.
MEDAL DAY 2011
Far left: Medal Day visitors enjoy picnic lunches after the ceremony. Left: Edward Albee accepts the 2011 Edward MacDowell Medal.
ing the Playwright
The MacDowell Colony
our Medal Day presentation speaker. A special “Make Art: Make a Scene” program — created in partnership with Andy’s Summer Playhouse — was also part of the Medal Day offerings, as were the traditional picnic lunch and open studio tours. Three of the stellar speeches given on that special day are reproduced below. Enjoy!
Auden wrote that great art is clear thinking
about mixed feelings. Seeing the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when it first opened on Broadway was to experience the shock of feeling the lives in the play were so familiar that somehow, you had lived them or would in the future. Here was a writer who had written a love story that brought us stunned recognition because it was dangerous and true. I needed to know about this writer who had torn a layer of skin off all of us. Some years after I saw the play, I got the chance to direct the movie — which you might say was like the incident that actually happened in 1987 when a committee member from Stockholm meant to call the organic chemist who had just won the Nobel Prize but called instead a carpet cleaner of the same name. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. I knew Edward had wisely sold the play without being what is called “attached.” Thus he was free and the play was forever his. When I got to Hollywood it turned out that, true to its reputation, it had caused a script to be written that would improve on his play. As I read the script for the movie, I was pretty startled: I will mention only two items to give you the feel of it. The opening credits of the movie were over George taking a walk at night. He saw various things as he walked, but perhaps the most striking of these tableaus was two dogs humping. This sentence in the script was followed by a parenthesis that instructed: “(This must be beautifully shot),” and no, I’m not making this up. I had a designer friend who read that and she said: “I can do this! I’ll need Afghans and lots of fans!” The other idea for the film that I will tell you about was that the imaginary child — since it had come in for some criticism in the press — they felt, would be real in the movie. In this script, he had hanged himself in the hall closet on his 21st birthday and after the funeral, George and Martha had papered over where the closet had been, presumably so they wouldn’t be reminded of what had happened. So how easy and happy it was to restore Edward’s text and go to work. And how he took care of us and the movie, and he didn’t even have to be there. The words and actions did the job.
That play, and Edward’s other plays, have been with me and taught me ever since. Here’s what I realized not all that long ago: Virginia Woolf may be the only play that takes place entirely in the present. Yes, there are some stories of the past, but they are seductive brilliant traps set and sprung by George to enormous effect. They are the device that elicits the confidences that George uses to “Get the Guests” and complete the action of the play. It is all happening now before our eyes. Among my favorite words in the world are these that Edward wrote. This is the story George tells to Nick after Honey has gotten so drunk that Martha has to tend to her in the bathroom: GEORGE: Uh . . . Bourbon is right. NICK: Uh . . . yes, bourbon. GEORGE: When I was sixteen and going to prep school, during the Punic Wars, a bunch of us used to go into New York on the first day of vacations, before we fanned out to our homes, and in the evening this bunch of us used to go to this gin mill owned by the gangster-father of one of us — for this was during the Great Experiment, or Prohibition, as it is more frequently called, and it was a bad time for the liquor lobby, but a fine time for the crooks and the cops — and we would go to this gin mill, and we would drink with the grown-ups and listen to the jazz. And one time, in the bunch of us, there was this boy who was fifteen, and he had killed his mother with a shotgun some years before — accidentally, completely accidentally, without even an unconscious motivation, I have no doubt, no doubt at all — and this one evening this boy went with us, and we ordered drinks, and when it came his turn he said, “I’ll have the bergin . . . give me some bergin, please . . . bergin and water.” Well, we all laughed . . . he was blond and he had the face of a cherub, and we all laughed, and his cheeks went red and the color rose in his neck, and the assistant crook who had taken our order told people at the next table what the boy had said, and then they laughed, and then more people and more laughter, and no one was laughing more than us, and none of us laughing more than the boy who had shot his mother. And soon, everyone in the gin mill knew what the laughter was about, and everyone started ordering bergin, and laughing when they ordered it. And soon, or course, the laughter became less general, but it did not subside, entirely, for a very long time, for always at this table or that someone would
order bergin and a new area of laughter would rise. We drank free that night, and we were brought champagne by the management, by the gangsterfather of one of us. And of course, we suffered the next day, each of us, alone, on his train, away from New York, each of us with a grown-up’s hangover . . . but it was the grandest day of my . . . youth. (Hands Nick a drink) NICK: Thank you. What . . . what happened to the boy . . . the boy who had shot his mother? GEORGE: I won’t tell you. NICK: All right. GEORGE: The following summer, on a country road, with his learner’s permit in his pocket and his father on the front seat to his right, he swerved the car, to avoid a porcupine, and drove straight into a large tree. NICK: No. GEORGE: He was not killed of course. And in the hospital, when he was conscious and out of danger, and when they told him that his father was dead, he began to laugh, I have been told, and his laughter grew and would not stop, and it was not till after they jammed a needle in his arm, not until after that, until his consciousness slipped away from him, that his laughter subsided . . . stopped. And when he was recovered from his injuries enough so that he could be moved without damage should he struggle, he was put in an asylum. That was 30 years ago. NICK: Is he . . . still there? GEORGE: Oh, yes. And I’m told that for these 30 years he has . . . not . . . uttered . . . one . . . sound. Edward Albee is a master, a flame thrower, a poet, and — most amazing — a calm, kind, generous teacher doing what Flaubert suggested: putting his wildness in his work. Edward, 51 years ago, you and I had a hamburger in a place on 8th Avenue, and I told you how much I loved your play and you told me that you had enjoyed An Evening With Nichols and Elaine May but that you had one suggestion: You said our pieces would be better if we could end with gray-outs rather than sharp blackouts after punch lines. I told Elaine and we tried, but our cabaret training was too strong. Today, I would love to heed your advice and end with a grayout, but again cannot as I have too good a punch line. It is: Ladies and gentlemen . . . EDWARD ALBEE!
MEDAL DAY 2011
Edward A2011lbee Edward MacDowell Medalist This is my second visit to The MacDowell Colony. The
discussing one of my poems — whether he did this on purpose or not, I don’t know, maybe the first time was accident — he sort of slipped it into the water. And by the time he had finished going over these 20 or 30 poems of mine, the entire surface of the pond was covered with foolscap. Foolscap, indeed!
this guy was there, and he opened the door, and I thrust the poems at him, and I said: “My name is Edward Albee. I’m a poet. Read these. I’ll be back in a week.” He was so astonished that he took the poems and stood there, mouth agape, as I wandered away.
first was 60 years ago. I have not been back until now, not through any unhappiness with my first visit — I will tell you about that visit, I’m enormously grateful for it — I’ve just been busy.
A week later, to the day — to the hour, probably — I went back to Cornelia Street and discovered he had not moved. He was still there, and even having read my poetry, he invited me in for a discussion. Very, very generous man, this guy . . . pointing out my excesses, my lapses, but being very, very careful to tread very gently on those poems of mine that were most obviously
One thing I did learn from my first visit to The MacDowell Colony a long time ago was that it was doing something that practically no other organization in the United States was doing at that time: Providing work space, living space, and communal artist space for a variety of wonderful, creative people. Now many,
This man, whose name was Thornton Wilder . . . When you’re that young, you dare anything; when you’re that young, you will show your work to the great because you feel that they deserve the experience of your work. Wilder said to me a sentence that changed my life, which is why I am telling you this entire story. He said:
“I think possibly, it is a place like this that you do tend to meet — more often than you would otherwise — people who are very important to you, people who are going to be helpful to you . . .”
The MacDowell Colony
many people are doing it, but none of them have done it with the consistency or with the quality of the participants that The MacDowell Colony has over the years. We’re enormously grateful for that. I am, myself. I’m one of these writers — or “creative people,” if you like that term — who decided very, very young that he was going to be involved in the arts. As I remember, I began writing poetry when I was eight. I stopped, when I was 28, for reasons I will tell you soon, basically because I wasn’t getting all that much better. I started doing drawings and paintings when I was about 10, and I discovered Bach when I was 11 and a half and decided, of course, that I had to be a composer. My competence in most of these was minimal, but I persisted in being a writer, a poet — we all begin as a poet, do we not, knowing no better — and eventually abandoning the novel as a hopeless enterprise for me, and knowing that the short story and I had lots of arguments about its nature, and that the short story was probably right. Though I must confess, I wrote a short story when I was 28, I guess, that had in it one of the best first lines of any short story ever written by an American. It was a short story set in Rome, Italy, and the first line — believe me, it’s a good one — the first line was: “Everything in Rome is uphill.” That’s pretty good! Unfortunately, from that point in the story, everything was downhill. But I persisted in being a writer, and concentrated mostly on poetry for a very, very long time. When I was thrown out of college when I was 19, I moved to New York’s Greenwich Village and I decided, well, hell. I’m out of college, you know, I’m an adult. I might as well get to know some other writers and show them my work, and get their applause. And there was a poet I’d heard was living in New York City, on Cornelia Street. And so I took, what, 20 or 30 of my poems, and I went to Cornelia Street and rapped on the door. And
influenced by his. For this man was W.H. Auden. I mentioned this when I got to know Wystan very, very well in later years. . . . I kept mentioning this event to him and he pretended it had never happened. Indeed, it had.
“Albee, I have read these poems.” And I said, “Well yes, they’re . . . I can see them all floating.” “I have read these poems, Albee.” Long pause. “Have you ever thought about writing plays?”
So I was visiting — a couple of years later when I was what, 23, perhaps — I was visiting a friend of mine who was in residence here at The MacDowell Colony, a very good young composer named Bill Flanagan. I was visiting, and I was impressed by everything that was going on, thinking that maybe someday I’d get invited to The MacDowell Colony, maybe — if I stopped writing poetry, perhaps. And I was wandering around the wonderful grounds, and I spied a shortish, balding man lurking in some pine trees. I knew who he was, and I wanted him — even though he wasn’t a poet, he was a writer — I wanted him to read my poetry. I had learned that no matter where I went, I always carried a small suitcase with me, of my work. You never knew when it was gonna come in handy.
I’m not trying to suggest that Thornton saw, in the poetry, the insipient playwright. I think much more likely, he was trying to save poetry from me. Several years later, I took his advice: I wrote my first play. It was called The Zoo Story. And my life changed. I realized — and maybe I would have gotten to write plays because I was so bad at everything else, and I knew I was a writer, maybe that was inevitable — but I think that Thornton’s advice to give up poetry and write plays helped me along. It was amazing advice to get, and I’ll be eternally grateful to a writer who I think may have written the greatest play ever written by an American: That is Our Town by Thornton Wilder. His other plays aren’t so bad, either. But I don’t know why it is, when the lists are made of the deathless American playwrights, for some reason Thornton’s name is not on there very often. I think it’s a great lapse. He’s a terribly important playwright, and somebody who had the generosity and the kindness to really be helpful — enormously helpful — to a young writer who could easily have been damaged by rejection. He was generous enough to be kind. We got to know each other in later years, as I did with Auden, but it was Wilder who pushed me and enabled me to accomplish whatever I’ve accomplished so far.
So I grabbed — I had committed many, many more poems by then — I grabbed a handful of some of the newer ones, and searched him out, and I found him lurking under another pine tree somewhere. And I went into my act, and I said: “My name is Edward Albee. I’m a poet. Read these,” and thrust them at him. And he took them. And I guess he was a quick read, because the next day he found me lurking under some other trees, and he said: “Albee, I have read all of these poems. I want to take you out and get you drunk.”
I’m grateful to him, enormously, and grateful to The MacDowell Colony for existing and for having him there at the time I happened to wander by. I think possibly, it is a place like this that you do tend to meet — more often than you would otherwise — people who are very important to you, people who are going to be helpful to you, and influential to you.
Well, you know what I thought, of course: Since the time I had shown my poetry to Auden, it had undergone a sea change, and was now of a magnificence that could not be discussed sober. Turned out not to be the case; the guy just liked to drink a little bit. So he took me out in some beat-up little car, to one of the many pondlets that dot the New Hampshire countryside, with a bottle of bourbon. And as the sun was setting, and as the level of the bottle of bourbon was settling, he discussed each of my poems with me. He did something I thought rather odd. Every time he finished
O p e n S t u d i os | M a k e A r t : M a k e
Interdisciplinary/ performance artist Sarah Jones entertains visitors in Cheney Studio during her open studio at Medal Day.
You have a good place going here. You’ve put together some extraordinary people. And I’m very happy to have been here twice. And I hope I come back before another 60 years have passed. Thank you.
Scene In July and August, MacDowell playwrights Stephen Karam and Alexandra Napier mentored 13 young dramatists at Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, New Hampshire, as part of “Make Art: Make a Scene” — a special community program for Medal Day sponsored by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Left: Kids from Andy’s perform one of the plays created as part of this program on the Medal Day stage.
$400,000 to go!
foundation, every $2 you contribute to The Campaign for the Second Century will be matched with $1! The Campaign’s $13 million investment in supporting creative work will enable MacDowell to receive new generations of artists. Half the funds Melissa Higgins Development Associate
raised will fortify MacDowell’s endowment for Fellowships and provide grants in the form of financial aid to artists who need additional support. The other half is for buildings, including our rejuvenated and more energy-efficient Colony Hall. A new library building will also soon
New Board Member
be added to the existing Savidge Library. Wired for digital technology, the resulting media center will be a new type of library: a versatile hub for contemporary art collection, creation, and presentation. With your help, we anticipate groundbreaking on this project in the spring. To help us raise the remaining $400,000 needed to finish the Campaign by our March 31, 2012, deadline, please use the enclosed envelope to contribute to MacDowell’s future today!
*Gifts as of November 1, 2011
Our Application Is Now Online! Robert Larsen
Lawyer and Painter
Over the past few years, MacDowell has been transitioning to an online application process, and we are pleased to announce that applicants can now submit all required application materials through SlideRoom. With this shift to digital media, we no longer require hard copies of paperwork or work samples. Reference letters can also be handled electronically. Detailed information about MacDowell’s new and improved application process can be found on our Web site, macdowellcolony.org. For more information, please contact the admissions office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-924-3886.
2011 National Council Trip MacDowell’s National Council explored San Francisco’s arts scene and the sustainable food world during this year’s annual trip in October. Hosted by Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon, chairman of the board, the trip included tours of some of the Bay Area’s most coveted art collections, restaurants, gardens, and vineyards. Highlights included a private lunch with chef and food activist Alice Waters and journalist and author Michael Pollan at Waters’s Chez Panisse; a tour of the Edible Schoolyard (a nonprofit venture aimed at building and sharing a food curriculum in the local school system); a visit to the University of California Berkeley’s Blake Estate led by landscape architect Chip Sullivan; a reception with more than 40 Colony Fellows from the Bay Area; curator-led visits to private art collections; and a visit to and luncheon at the Fraenkel Gallery and Pier 24. The last stop on the trip was the Napa Valley, where participants visited the Hess Collection Winery and enjoyed a walk through the art gallery. For information on National Council membership, please contact Elena Quevedo at equevedo@macdowellcolony.
The New Hampshire Benefit
Save the Date
Saturday, March 31, 2012 Join us at the Colony in Peterborough for a special dinner prepared by Colony chef Scott Tyle with presentations by MacDowell artists-in-residence. Seating is limited; please contact Dean Klingler at email@example.com or 212-535-9690 for more information or to receive an invitation.
The National Council visits the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco during the 2011 National Trip.
The third season of MacDowell’s salon-style series has featured fantastic evenings with artists in New York City, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard. On June 29th, Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell (with accompanist Larry Pressgrove) performed songs from their stage work at the New York home of MacDowell supporters David McConnell and Darrell Crawford; the evening was hosted by Colony Fellow Lisa Howorth. Mac ’n’ Cheese expanded to Martha’s Vineyard for a July 25th event featuring James The first Mac ’n’ Cheese on Martha’s Vineyard took place in July. Lapine and Honor Moore at the home of Steve Judge and Jim Skelton. In September, writers Ryan Harty and Julie Orringer shared their work in New York at an event hosted by Brittain and Rina Stone. Betty and Russell Gaudreau welcomed a standing-room-only crowd to their Beacon Hill home for jazz composer and pianist Bert Seager and poet Sue Standing on October 12th. Keep your eye out for news on the 2012 season!
A series of free presentations offered by MacDowell Colony artists, MacDowell Downtown takes place the first Friday of the month from March to November at the Peterborough Historical Society. At July’s MacDowell Downtown, filmmaker Shelly Silver screened excerpts from her recent films, while in August, the film version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was screened in celebration of 2011 Edward MacDowell Medalist Edward Albee. In September, composer and keyboardist Missy Mazzoli (shown above in Sprague-Smith Studio) performed live music and shared video of her new opera and performances by her band, Victoire. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dr. Sheri Fink spoke at October’s MacDowell Downtown, engaging the audience in a dialogue on the ethical dilemmas involved in rationing healthcare.
MacDowell in the Schools To kick off the school year in September, filmmaker Denise Iris shared a series of one-minute films with students and teachers in the alternative education department at ConVal High School. She also discussed making short films with cell phone cameras and other affordable tools. In October, writer, composer, and performance artist Cynthia Hopkins (pictured right) shared work from her most recent project, which integrates film footage of the Arctic with live music for voice and accordion. In July, compo sers Angel Lam and Elizabeth Nonemaker shared their music with composition students from the Walden School in Dublin.
Mac ’n’ Cheese
7 The MacDowell Colony
Thanks to a last-dollar challenge issued by a national
Help Us Close the Campaign!
Left to right: Painter Carrie Moyer, composer Neil Rolnick, filmmaker Denise Iris, architects Julie Larsen and Roger Hubeli, interdisciplinary artist John Kelly, and playwright LaShea Delaney.
Mark Adamo, Composer New York, NY
John Haskell, Writer Brooklyn, NY
Maureen McLane, Writer New York, NY
Danny Rubin, Film/Video Artist Brookline, MA
Robert Akeret, Writer New York, NY
Henry Hehmsoth, Composer San Marcos, TX
Lansing McLoskey, Composer Miami, FL
Greta Schuler, Writer St. Louis, MO
Becca Albee, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY
Erin Hogan, Writer Chicago, IL
Cassandra Medley, Theatre New York, NY
Emma Schwarcz, Writer Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Darcy James Argue, Composer Brooklyn, NY
Feliz Molina, Writer Buffalo, NY
Jackie Sibblies Drury, Theatre Brooklyn, NY
Rod Moore, Writer Los Angeles, CA
Shelly Silver, Film/Video Artist New York, NY
Paul Moravec, Composer New York, NY
Edward Simon, Composer Orange City, FL
Michael Morse, Writer Brooklyn, NY
Mairead Small Staid, Writer Andover, MA
Carrie Moyer, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY
Gregory Spears, Composer Brooklyn, NY
Yolaine St. Fort, Writer Brooklyn, NY
Michael Ashkin, Visual Artist Ithaca, NY Eleanor Aversa, Composer Philadelphia, PA Rosecrans Baldwin, Writer Chapel Hill, NC Joshuah Bearman, Writer Los Angeles, CA Jesse Bercowetz, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY Mark Binelli, Writer New York, NY
Interdisciplinary Artist Brooklyn, NY
Roger Hubeli, Architect Champaign, IL Joyce Hwang, Architect Buffalo, NY Catherine Ingraham, Architect Brooklyn, NY Scott Ingram, Visual Artist Atlanta, GA Denise Iris, Film/Video Artist New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA
Laura Jacqmin, Theatre Chicago, IL
Joan Murray, Writer Old Chatham, NY
Kristin Jones, Visual Artist New York, NY
Alexandra Napier, Theatre Toronto, CANADA
Jessica Stern, Writer Cambridge, MA
Sarah Jones, Interdisciplinary Artist New York, NY
Elizabeth Nonemaker, Composer Los Angeles, CA
David Storey, Visual Artist New York, NY
Stephen Karam, Theatre New York, NY
Andrew Norman, Composer Brooklyn, NY
Elisabeth Subrin, Film/Video Artist Brooklyn, NY
Interdisciplinary Artist Fredericksburg, OH
Jaime Karnes, Writer New York, NY
D. Nurkse, Writer Brooklyn, NY
Manil Suri, Writer Silver Springs, MD
Wiley Cash, Writer Morgantown, WV
Darina Karpov, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY
Stephen O’Connor, Writer New York, NY
Rebecca Taichman, Theatre New York, NY
Michael Chabon, Writer Berkeley, CA
John Kelly, Interdisciplinary Artist New York, NY
Meghan O’Rourke, Writer Brooklyn, NY
Catherine Taylor, Writer Ithaca, NY
Andrea Clearfield, Composer Philadelphia, PA
Joy KMT, Writer Pittsburgh, PA
Eugene Ostashevsky, Writer Long Island City, NY
Jackie Thomas-Kennedy, Writer Needham, MA
Andrea Cohen, Writer Watertown, MA
Lynn Koble, Visual Artist New York, NY
Renie Oxley, Writer Los Angeles, CA
Millee Tibbs, Visual Artist Providence, RI
Lydia Conklin, Writer Madison, WI
Ginger Krebs, Interdisciplinary Artist Chicago, IL
Shin Yu Pai, Writer Conway, AR
Diane Torr, Interdisciplinary Artist Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM
Patty Crane, Writer Dalton, MA
Jonathan Lackman, Writer Hatfield, MA
Laurie Parker, Film/Video Artist Arcata, CA
Abigail Ulman, Writer San Francisco, CA
Nathan Currier, Composer Greenwood, VA
Angel Lam, Composer New York, NY
Cecily Parks, Writer Cambridge, MA
Barry Underwood, Visual Artist Cleveland Heights, OH
Meghan Daum, Writer Los Angeles, CA
Lindsey Landfried, Visual Artist Greenville, PA
Janet Peery, Writer Norfolk, VA
Kimetha Vanderveen, Visual Artist San Francisco, CA
LaShea Delaney, Theatre Brooklyn, NY
Julie Larsen, Architect Champaign, IL
Jayne Anne Phillips, Writer Jamaica Plain, MA
Paula Vogel, Theatre Cranston, RI
Stephen Dunn, Writer Frostburg, MD
Young Jean Lee, Theatre Brooklyn, NY
Andreia Pinto-Correia, Composer Quincy, MA
Ayelet Waldman, Writer Berkeley, CA
Eric Lehman, Writer New York, NY
Liss Platt, Film/Video Artist Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA
Josh Weil, Writer Leverett, MA
Jennifer Leung, Architect Brooklyn, NY
Robert Plowman, Theatre Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Dan Welcher, Composer Bastrop, TX
James Linville, Film/Video Artist London, UNITED KINGDOM
Rachel Perry Welty,
Tannaz Farsi, Visual Artist Eugene, OR
Hanna Pylvainen, Writer West Bloomfield, MI
Bridget Lowe, Writer St. Louis, MO
Marcella Faustini, Visual Artist San Francisco, CA
Kirstin Quade, Writer Tuscon, AZ
Jamie Quatro, Writer Lookout Mountain, GA
Kate Blakinger, Writer Philadelphia, PA Christie Blizard, Visual Artist Lubbock, TX Maria Borja, Writer Oslo, NORWAY Andrew Braddock,
Melissa Febos, Writer Clinton, NY Amy Feldman, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY Glen Gold, Writer San Francisco, CA
Interdisciplinary Artist Brooklyn, NY
Kara Manning, Theatre New York, NY Ben Marcus, Writer New York, NY Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich,
John Gonzalez, Visual Artist Boston, MA
Missy Mazzoli, Composer Brooklyn, NY
New York, NY
Judith McBrien, Architect Wilmette, IL
Interdisciplinary Artist Andrew Greer, Writer San Francisco, CA Bruce Guernsey, Writer Charleston, IL
The MacDowell Colony is located at 100 High Street Peterborough, NH 03458 Telephone: 603-924-3886 Fax: 603-924-9142 Administrative office: 163 East 81st Street New York, NY 10028
Telephone: 212-535-9690 Fax: 212-737-3803 Web site: www.macdowellcolony.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamaica Plain, MA
Ian McDonald, Theatre Buxton, ME
Lawrence Raab, Writer Williamstown, MA Julia Reckless, Writer South Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM Spencer Reece, Writer Madrid, SPAIN Margaret Reges, Writer Oakland, CA Nancy Reisman, Writer Nashville, TN Chris Rogerson, Composer Amherst, NY Neil Rolnick, Composer New York, NY
The MacDowell Colony awards Fellowships to artists of exceptional talent, providing time, space, and an inspiring environment in which to do creative work. The Colony was founded in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian Nevins MacDowell, his wife. Fellows receive room, board, and exclusive use of a studio. The sole criterion for acceptance is talent, as determined by a panel representing the discipline of the applicant. The MacDowell Colony was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1997 for “nurturing and inspiring many of this century’s finest artists.” Applications are available on our Web site at www.macdowellcolony.org. Chairman: Michael Chabon President: Susan Davenport Austin Executive Director: Cheryl A. Young Resident Director: David Macy
On the cover…
The MacDowell Colony
From May through October of 2011, The MacDowell Colony welcomed a total of 141 artists from 23 states and six countries. This group included 61 writers, 21 composers, 19 visual artists, 14 theatre artists, 11 interdisciplinary artists, 9 film/video artists, and 6 architects.
A lunch basket awaits on the porch of Schelling Studio in late fall.
New York, NY
Interdisciplinary Artist Gloucester, MA
Susan Wicks, Writer Kent, UNITED KINGDOM
MacDowell is published twice a year, in June and December. Past Fellows may send newsworthy activities to the editor in Peterborough. Deadlines for inclusion are April 1st and October 1st. Editor: Karen Sampson Design and Production: John Hall Design Group, Beverly, MA All photographs not otherwise credited: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey
Robin Williams, Visual Artist Brooklyn, NY
Printer: Deschamps Printing, Salem, MA
Mailing House: Sterling Business Print & Mail, Peterborough, NH
Gary Winter, Theatre Brooklyn, NY
No part of MacDowell may be reused in any way without written permission.
Eric Wubbels, Composer New York, NY Pete Wyer, Composer London, UNITED KINGDOM Wang Xi, Composer Dallas, TX
© 2011, The MacDowell Colony The names of MacDowell Fellows are noted in bold throughout this newsletter.
Monica Youn, Writer New York, NY
The Colony is grateful for the generous support of the following organizations: