EVERYONE is cordially invited to Kean University’s International Conference on American Drama (October 29-30, 2010),
in partnership with Kean’s production of Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN,
directed by Bill Bowers, (October 15, 16, 20, 23, 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.; October 17, 30 and 31 at 2 p.m.)

Before the Friday, October 29 performance, scholars and directors of Our Town will discuss the play at 6:30 p.m.

"The conference will address a broad range of 20th century American plays, featuring the major scholars in the field, as well as contemporary playwrights," according to Jan Balakian, conference organizer and Professor of English at Kean. "Our Town is the perfect play for our community, because, as the Stage Manager in the play says, it attempts to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life."

The following featured speakers, funded by the NJ Council for the Humanities, are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:

  • Todd London (Artistic Director, New Dramatists)
  • Emily Mann (playwright and Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center)
  • Jill Dolan (Professor of English and Theater, Princeton University), who will interview Mann about her work
  • Christopher Bigsby (Professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia). (Click here to read his lecture.)

In addition, more than 50 leading national and international professors will speak and lead discussions on American drama, including

Louise Bernard, Curator of Prose and Drama, Collection of American Literature, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Brenda Murphy, Distinguished Professor of English, University of Connecticut

Jackson R. Bryer, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland

Tappan Wilder, Literary Executor of the papers of Thornton Wilder

Lincoln Konkle, Professor of English, The College of New Jersey/ Executive Director, The Thornton Wilder Society

Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Editor Best Plays and Director of Theatre Studies, Drama Department, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU

Cheryl Black, University of Missouri

Linda Ben-Zvi, TelAviv University

Sharon Friedman, NYU

Martha Carpentier, Seton Hall University

Marc Maufort, Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Barbara Ozieblo, University of Malaga, Spain

Gregory Mosher, Lincoln Center production of Our Town

Catherine Filloux, playwright

Tammy Ryan, playwright

Jeff Baron, playwright

Kean University students, Michele Alequin, Jennifer Pepe, and Robert Schroeder will present papers on August Wilson, Emily Mann, and Arthur Miller, alongside scholars.

"We are in difficult economic times, and so people understandably focus on their economic security, which dictates their course of study in college. In doing so, students can forget the importance of the arts and humanities. The conference will explore the ways that drama is essential to our humanity," says Balakian. "Accordingly, Todd London will present, 'What Can One Play Do;' Emily Mann and Jill Dolan will discuss the way that Mann’s plays engage with human rights; Chris Bigsby will address ‘What is Theater?’ The other lectures and discussions will explore the way American drama is integral to the study of the humanities: politics, history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, gender, race, class, literary studies, and performance studies. Studying a play means engaging with our whole society," says Balakian. "We are fortunate that the NJ Council for the Humanities has embraced our conference."

Students will receive Co-Curricular Credit for attending; High School teachers will receive professional development credit.

To purchase tickets to Our Town: Kean Stage Box Office at 908-737-SHOW. 

To Register for the Conference: http://www.kean.edu/~drama/registration.html  Special Student Discount: $10

Audiences are encouraged to read:

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Emily Mann's  Testimonies:  Four Plays


C.W.E. Bigsby and Brenda Murphy's books on American Drama

Visiting Mr. Green by Jeff Baron

The recently published Collected Plays of Susan Glaspell
—on sale in the bookstore with other books by our guest speakers.

This program was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Kean University, English Department, CAS 301, 1000 Morris Avenue, New Jersey 07083 :: 908-737-0370