SYMPOSIUMS AND READINGS WITH LEGENDARY ARTISTS
I had the opportunity and pleasure to ask important artists of the stage and screen, who also lived on the east end, to come to the college where I was an Artist-in-Residence for 15 years. There, we held symposiums for the campus about important topics. They were all very warm, giving, engaging and a lot of fun. We also held play readings with some of the artists, who's works were in progress, with discussions afterwards. I had been working at a group in NYC called the 42nd Street Workshop. It was a cooperative of NYC professional actors and writers who would pair up to explore new work. I had many of my plays rehearsed there and I'd produce them on Theater Row next door, and at the same time Murray Schisgal was having small productions going on at the Workshop. This was a world-famous playwright whose plays influenced my own inspiration to be a playwright when a freshman at Dowling years before. I met him, submitted a screen play (HOME) to Punch Productions which he ran (Dustin Hoffman's Film Company) and had the good pleasure of visiting Murray in his office - he was very helpful, and took an interest in a second screenplay I wrote - MEN AND THE SEA about the East End Baymen I was trying to get produced. HOME was a screenplay that rose to the top of the list of possible productions there and he called me in to discuss it.
Gary Kott who had an extensive Hollywood career and a home in Southampton, was the father of one of my students at Dowling. She was in my play Tomorrow that I directed - a one act - which he attended just after leaving Hollywood for good. We became great friends, and I performed a one man show (staged reading) at the Grove Street Theater in Greenwich Village he directed me in called HIM AND HIS LAST NIGHT OF SANITY. Joe Pintauro was a Sag Harbor Playwright I had the good fortune to be come friends with. A warm, kind and talented man I will never forget. He would send me his plays to read and give him my thoughts. Michael Edelson was a professor of Film at Stonybrook who I became good friends with in Sag Harbor. Ted Newman, Cliff Robertson and Bud Schulberg I think I just called and asked them if they’d like to participate and they all did – I had balls. Latyer, I lived next to Landford Wilson in Sag Harbor for 4 years, but never told him I was a writer – I always felt like opportunism detached us and everyone then becomes someone who can do something for you, or vice versa – and I liked these people because they were very cool people. But I supposed I should have asked him to come and speak.
A university or college is a perfect place for real artistic truth to be kept alive away from consumerism that twists it into a form that I find to be perverse. And what struck me the most was that although all of these legends did very commercial work, as well as artistically sound work, they engaged into intellectual discussions about that purity and altruistic notion we all grab onto when young – the idea that art casn change things – rather than just entertain the bored, lonely, and defensive.
The play reading series was great too – we had professional actors from the 42nd street workshop in NYC come out to do them – I was a member of this group as was Murray Schisgal, and I had many readings of my plays rehearsed there and then produced them on Theater Row next door.
I wanted to blend both the academic class experience, with real life artistic experiences. Many of my students helped on my professional productgions in NYC, had the opportunity to listen to these legends and masters, as well as work on student productions I directed.
Too bad that after 15 years of that, with great audience, and media response, the Adminsitrators of that college did not have the good sense to protect it – and allowed it to perish when they were fired by the board of directors for corruption. They were an ignorant group – at a beautiful campus with great opportunity – instead greed and arrogance ruined it. Dowling is now closed – but it had real life once. And these artists were part of that life – and I thank them for that.
It was a real honor to speak and work with these great artists.
Play Readings with: