Friday, March 27, 2009

Steven Bach (1940-2009)

We note with sadness the passing of film scholar Steven Bach who was a guest of the Writers Institute twice in the last two years.

Bach was both a leading film industry insider and film historian. As head of production for United Artists, he was centrally involved in the making of “Raging Bull,” “Apocalypse Now,” Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” and dozens of other films. He was the author of four “New York Times” Notable Books, including “Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl” (2007), “Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart” (2001), “Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend” (1992), and “Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists” (1985). The “Los Angeles Times Book Review” called “Leni,” “Brilliant. … A compulsively readable and scrupulously crafted work . …” Writing in the “New Yorker,” Judith Thurman said, “First-rate . . . [a] richly fleshed-out portraiture and social history.”Steven Bach taught Literature and Film at both Columbia University in New York and Bennington College in Vermont.

See our blog entry on Steven Bach's April 2007 visit and a video excerpt from his visit in October 2008 and also his visit of April 2007.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Irish Writers from the Video Archive

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we offer you some video clips of Irish writers who have graced our stages, including John Montague talking of his friendship with Samuel Beckett, Kate McCafferty about her right to speak for others who are forgotten, recent New York gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt (pictured right) singing "Cockles and Mussels," and Frank McCourt about envying the ducks.

Other writers include Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle, Peter Sheridan, Paul Muldoon, Fintan O'Toole, Eamon Grennan, Colum McCann, Colm Toibin, Frank Delaney, Daniel Cassidy, Paul Durcan, and Oscar Wilde's only grandchild, Merlin Holland.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Horton Foote: A Remembrance

We are saddened by the passing of Horton Foote, whose uniquely American voice defined a lyricism in drama that is irreplaceable.

We remember the quiet, gentle power of his persona. During his visit to the Writers Institute in 2006 we presented a reading of his one act play, "Blind Date." We were so anxious to please a writer we admired that our initial rehearsal was clumsy and he soothed us in a calm, melodious voice, reminding us to relax and trust the material. Horton was all about trust. He trusted his roots, his muse, and all the lives around him that he transformed into stories that embraced the complete range of human value on the canvas of small- town American life. He asked the timeless philosophical questions: How do people carry on? Why are they so keen to survive? Why doesn’t life break the human spirit? What’s the difference between those who survive and those who don’t? His art was a quest to explore those questions and celebrate how we suffer catastrophic change and soldier on. His writing allowed us to observe our struggle at a distance, to appreciate it, laugh at it, and weep over it. We miss his voice especially as we attempt to cope with his absence.

It is rare for someone in the world of theatre and at his level of success to be universally acknowledged for personal grace, compassion, sincerity and generosity towards his fellow artists. He has never lost touch with his own apprenticeship and unfailingly showed his genuine interest in and support for those attempting to follow in his impossibly large footsteps. It was, quite simply, a privilege to be in his presence.

- Langdon Brown, Writers Institute Fellow and Director of Authors Theatre

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