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Stony Brook Southampton Summer Writing Conferences

Originally Posted: April 13, 2010

Now in its 35th year, the Southampton Writers Conference, sponsored by the Stony Brook Southampton MFA Program in Writing and Literature, runs from July 14 through July 25. (writelivelihood.wordpress.com)

Southampton - Following on the incredible success of last summer, the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference announced its keynote speaker for this summer, Lorrie Moore, whose most recent novel, "A Gate at the Stairs," was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner award. Moore's work, which includes the short story collection "Birds of America," is known for its poignancy and mordant wit. In addition, Elizabeth Strout, who won the Pulitzer Prize for "Olive Kittredge," and Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor) will be joining the summer faculty.

Now in its 35th year, the Southampton Writers Conference, sponsored by the Stony Brook Southampton MFA Program in Writing and Literature, runs from July 14 through July 25. This summer's distinguished faculty also features Roger Rosenblatt ("Making Toast"); Melissa Bank ("The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fish"), Peter Hedges (novelist - "The Heights;" director/screenwriter - "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"); poet Thomas Lux ("God Particles"); Kaylie Jones ("Lies My Mother Never Told Me"); and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

"We really seem to have crossed a threshold in terms of national prominence," Robert Reeves, director of the Stony Brook Southampton MFA Program in Writing and Literature, said. "We continue to enjoy the high regard of distinguished writers around the country, but even more important, of course, is that we continue to attract so many talented aspiring writers."

Session I also features the 10-day Southampton Playwriting Conference. MacArthur award-winning monologist Mike Daisey will lead a workshop on monologue and performance. His acclaimed monologues include the controversial "How Theater Failed America" and the six-hour epic "Great Men of Genius." Last summer, Daisey developed "The Last Cargo Cult" at the Conference, which garnered rave reviews in a subsequent run at the Public Theatre.

Also scheduled to teach at the Conference this year is Director/Playwright Emily Mann. Artistic Director of Princeton's McCarter Theatre, Mann returns to helm a workshop just prior to beginning rehearsals for the world premiere of Edward Albee's "Me, Myself and I," scheduled to open in the Fall at Playwrights Horizons. Mann's directing credits include Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Anna in the Tropics" with Jimmy Smits (also on Broadway). Her own plays include the multi-award-winning "Execution of Justice;" and "Still Life," winner of six Obie Awards.

Session II of A Writer's Summer 2010 (July 28 through August 1) offers a second Playwriting Conference, The Southampton Children's Literature Conference, and the Southampton Screenwriting Conference. Jules Feiffer, esteemed faculty member, artist, playwright and screenwriter, who adroitly combines all three disciplines in one Renaissance man, opens the remarkable series with a keynote address.

Workshop leaders for Session II's Southampton Playwriting Conference 2010 will feature Marsha Norman ("Wicked"), who won the Pulitzer Prize for "'Night Mother." Other leaders include playwright Annie Baker, whose "Circle, Mirror, Transformation" played to sold-out houses and rave reviews at New York's Playwrights Horizons, will lead a workshop entitled "Bad Language." Baker's plays include "Body Awareness" (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations), as well as playwright/actor Leslie Ayvazian ("Make Me"). Her play Nine Armenians premiered at the Manhattan Theatre Club and won the John Gassner Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New play, and the Kennedy Center's Roger L. Stevens Award. Ayvazian is currently playing a recurring role on FX's "Damages" with Glenn Close. The Playwriting Conferences are co-directed by Emma Walton Hamilton and Stephen Hamilton.

During both sessions of the Southampton Playwriting Conference, actors and directors from New York's esteemed Ensemble Studio Theatre will be in residence and will be doing readings of plays being workshopped. "We're looking forward to building on the strength of our extraordinary premiere season," says Hamilton.

The Southampton Children's Literature Conference provides a unique forum in which to study and discuss the craft of writing for children. Children's Writing Workshops will be led by authors and editors of the first rank. The distinguished faculty includes Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator Ed Young; award-winning middle-grade author Tor Seidler ("Wainscott Weasel");accomplished editor and novelist Cindy Kane; best-selling author/editor Emma Walton Hamilton (who is also director of the Children's Literature Conference); and award-winning YA author Margaret McMullan ("Sources of Light").

Among the guest presenters scheduled to appear this year are Arlene Alda and Lisa DeSimini, Jim and Kate McMullan, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Catherine Creedon, and Whiting Award-winning poet Julie Sheehan.

"Although only in its third year, the Southampton Children's Literature Conference is rapidly becoming one of the best places in the country to learn about writing for young people," says Walton Hamilton.

The third annual Screenwriting Conference returns with a roster of outstanding writers, actors and Hollywood industry insiders. This summer, director Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black") is slated to appear.

Screenwriting workshops will be taught by luminaries including Andrew Bienen, Screenwriter, "Boys Don't Cry" (How to Write Better Scenes); Paula Brancato, award-winning screenwriter (Breaking the Back of Your Story), Peter Reigert, writer and actor, "Local Hero" (Mastering Screenwriting); Stephen Molton, producer and author (Adapting Your Novel) and Frank Pugliese, Playwright and Screenwriter, "Avenu'U Boys," (Finding Your Story).

Annette Handley Chandler, Screenwriting Conference Director, says, "We attract a high caliber, dynamic student who is serious about mastering the art of the screenplay."

In addition to morning workshops, conferences feature a wide selection of lectures, panel discussions and special events. Space is limited and early enrollment is encouraged.

YAWP Summer Workshops pair professional writers with students, ages 13 through 17, for four-day retreats in creative writing during A Writer's Summer. YAWP Workshop dates are July 13 through July 16 for Creative Writing and July 27 through July 30 for Playwriting.

For more information go to www.stonybrook.edu, or call the MFA in Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton at 631-632-5007, or 631-632-5030.

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