Last week, by invitation, I was at the University of Virginia for two days to deliver the Keenan Lecture and work with the drama students. It was a terrific experience and I made a whole raft of new friends. And I had such a good time.
On Friday, I first met Rachel Zucker - who is a stage management senior and ended up stage managing our performance the next day. (She did a fantastic job.) She and Anne Donnelly, Adam J. Santalla, Kate Tooley and Gracie Terzian were kind enough to take me on a tour of the gorgeous UVA campus. I already knew that Thomas Jefferson designed the university, but I'd never seen it before and I was blown away by the sheer beauty of the place.
Claire McKercher, a senior acting major, and the other heads of student drama, had made all the arrangements and it went off like clock-work. Claire (and everyone) was a delight. I hope the audience enjoyed the lecture: I spoke about being a playwright and all the choices we need to make to be in the theatre as a profession. During the Q and A afterwards, I had the best set of questions I've ever heard. Really smart people down that-a-way.
Bob Chapel who heads the musical theatre program, and Doug Grissom who teaches playwriting were kind enough to take me to dinner afterwards. (Great restaurant - Orzo - Charlottesville seems to be filled with great places to eat.) Two hours of non-stop theatre talk. What could be better.
The next day, instead of doing a workshop or a master class in the traditional sense, we did a reading of a new play I just finished writing about 3 weeks ago: Tito's Revenge: Lend Me a Tenor, Part 2. We had two different casts, one for Act One, and another for Act Two, and the actors were amazing. Every single one was prepared, fun to work with and extremely talented. We had a great response from the audience. Then some of the cast kindly asked me to join them for drinks - and Anne presented me with a UVA Drama Department T-shirt! I love it and I was extremely touched and I'm going to wear it forever - if I don't frame it first.
Thanks to Gracie and Claire and Anne and Adam and Rachel and everybody for being so kind.
Emily Via, Mitch Voss, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian, Brad Fraizer, Adam Santalla, Amy Barrick
Mitch Voss, Anne Donnelly, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian
Emily Via, Mitch Voss, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian
Pictured top left: Ken, Rachel Zucker, Kate Tooley, Anne Donnelly, Adam Santalla
Photos by Andrew Noh