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Oberlin Celebrates Life and Work of Obie Award-Winning Writer Romulus Linney '53

October 7, 2013

Communications Staff

Romulus Linney is “an American theater all by himself” wrote director Jon Jory when Linney’s volume, Seventeen Short Plays, was published.

Oberlin College, Linney’s alma mater, will host a series of events, Drama in Every Human Life: The Art of Romulus Linney ’53, during the weekend of October 10-13, 2013, in celebration of the prolific author’s life and work. Linney wrote three novels, four opera librettos, 20 short stories, and 85 plays during his lifetime.

All of the events are open to the public, including a symposium featuring Linney's daughter, the actress Laura Linney, who will take part via Skype; actress Kathleen Chalfant; director John Dillon; and playwright Leslie Maslow ’90. The weekend also features a world premiere staged reading of one Linney’s last, as yet unproduced plays, The Flower Hunter.

“… Mr. Linney may be our bravest living playwright,” Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times in 1996, “running from rural dramas about hillbilly homicides to lush meditations on Lord Byron’s ghost and Frederick the Great.” When he died in 2011 at the age of 80, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in honor of his contributions to the American theater.

Schedule of Events

Library and Archives Exhibit September 30-October 28 • Main Library, first floor • View Library Hours

My Ghosts, My Own: Five Short Plays by Romulus Linney ’53 Thursday-Saturday, October 10-12 • Little Theater • 8 p.m. Tickets: $3 in advance at Oberlin’s Central Ticket Service; $5 at the door.

Romulus Linney and the Well of Ideas A lecture by Leslie Maslow ’90, who studied playwrighting with Romulus Linney. Friday, October 11 • 3 p.m. • Mudd 050 • Free and open to the public

The Surprise Social Entrepreneur A lecture by Laura Callanan, Romulus Linney’s widow, about James Houghton, who formed the Signature Theatre Company after being inspired by the works of Romulus Linney. Friday, October 11 • 4:30 p.m. • Bibbins 223 • Free and open to the public

An Actor’s Approach to the Plays of Romulus Linney A master class by accomplished actress Kathleen Chalfant. Saturday, October 12 • 10:30 a.m. • Hall Auditorium • Free and open to the public

Romulus Linney’s Legacy: A Symposium Panelists: Linney's daughter, the actress Laura Linney, who will take part via Skype; actress Kathleen Chalfant; director John Dillon; and playwright Leslie Maslow ’90. Moderated by Professor Roger Copeland. Saturday, October 12 • 3 p.m. • West Lecture Hall • Free and open to the public

World Premiere Staged Reading: The Flower Hunter An unproduced play Romulus Linney wrote before his death in 2011. Directed by John Dillon. Sunday, October 13 • 2 p.m. • Hall Auditorium • Free and open to the public

Participant Biographies

Laura Callanan

Laura Callanan, the widow of Romulus Linney, is an independent consultant, author, and teacher in the field of social innovation. She is currently Scholar in Residence at UC-Berkeley/Haas School of Business, a Visiting Fellow at New York University/Wagner School of Public Service, and a Senior Fellow with The Foundation Center. She is currently completing research on Social Sector Leaders Who Scale What Works and What Artists Can Teach Social Entrepreneurs.

Kathleen Chalfant

Kathleen Chalfant is one of America's most versatile and accomplished actors. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the original Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and she originated the leading role of Vivian Bearing in the New York premiere of Margaret Edson’s celebrated play Wit. Chalfant’s many films include The Laramie Project; Kinsey, with Laura Linney and Liam Neeson, and Junior, with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has also appeared on many television series including House of Cards, Rescue Me, and The Guardian. She appeared regularly on Law and Order and its numerous spinoffs.

John Dillon

John Dillon is one of this country's most respected theater directors. He has staged productions in more than two dozen of the nation's leading regional theaters, including Arena Stage in D.C., Chicago's Goodman Theatre, New Haven's Long Wharf, Seattle's ACT Theatre, the Berkeley Rep, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He was artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre from 1976 to 1993. Dillion had an especially close relationship with Romulus Linney. He wrote the forward to one of Linney’s best known play collections, Seventeen Short Plays, and he staged the world premieres of several works by Mr. Linney.

Laura Linney

Laura Linney, daughter of Romulus Linney, is one of America’s most beloved stage, film, and television actresses. She has starred in many major films including The Truman Show, Mystic River, and Kinsey. Linney has been nominated for three Academy Awards and has been honored with two Golden Globe Awards and four Emmys, most recently for her performance in the television drama The Big C. Her latest film, The Fifth Estate will be released later this month. She is also an accomplished stage actress, having appeared on Broadway in productions of Six Degrees of Separation, Hedda Gabler, The Crucible, and Time Stands Still.

Leslie Maslow

Leslie Maslow, who graduated from Oberlin in 1990 with a major in creative writing, is a playwright and novelist who has been awarded fellowships to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program and Vermont Studio Center. She was deeply influenced by the playwriting classes she took with Romulus Linney at both Columbia and the New School. Utilizing her notes from those courses—as well as the transcripts of interviews with Linney and talks he delivered at the Sewanne Writer's Conference—she will discuss his distinctive ideas about what it means to be a writer of fiction.


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