April 23, 2006 11:23 PM   Subscribe

The Last Frontier Theatre Conference, run by Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, Alaska became, despite its remote location, one of the most important playwriting events in the world, in large part because of the perennial presence of Edward Albee. The conference attracted hundreds of playwrights and such luminaries as Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, A.R. Gurney, Robert Anderson, and Horton Foote, as well as actors including Paula Prentiss, Eva Marie Saint, Jean Stapleton, Chris Noth, and Laura Linney, all participating for no pay. But when conference co-founder JoAnn McDowell resigned from the college, although she claimed it was for personal family issues, many wondered if there was a different story behind it - because when she left, Edward Albee vowed he would never participate in Valdez again (pdf), as did several other playwrights including John Guare and Romulus Linney. But now McDowell has taken a job at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, and she and Albee are starting the Great Plains Theatre Conference, which looks likely to become the Next Big Thing and could lure in such prominent theater folk as Terrence McNally, Arthur Kopit, actress Patricia Neal, and Metafilter’s own Astro Zombie.
posted by kyrademon (11 comments total)
For the record, I really enjoyed learning about all this. Thank you.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:10 AM on April 24, 2006

From Alaska to Nebraska. Huh. Was their criterion for the move perhaps rhyme? Where else were they gonna go?
posted by cgc373 at 3:45 AM on April 24, 2006

Great post! I love hearing about gossip and rumors in highbrow culture.
posted by painquale at 4:05 AM on April 24, 2006

I was an Omaha playwright before Omaha playwrights were cool.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:47 AM on April 24, 2006

sure is a lot of drama in the theatre world.
posted by stbalbach at 8:08 AM on April 24, 2006

Good post. Though is Patricia Neal still alive?
posted by tkchrist at 10:47 AM on April 24, 2006

As far as I know. She appeared on TV in 2005, according to IMBD.
posted by kyrademon at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2006

I heard it was going to be her zombie.

God, why did they even invite me to this thing? I'm just going to make a fool out of myself.

Still, I'm excited to meet Patricia Neal's zombie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2006

Is this the right place to complain about how Eric Overmyer is a genius playwright, but as script editor on Law & Order he's made all the dialogue slightly quirky, in a hard to pin down but extremely irritating way?


Then I'll just say I'd go to see Mac Wellman alone.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:23 AM on April 24, 2006

Yes. Yes it is. I don't know why, but it is.

Overmyer's one of my all-time faves, but somehow I can't see "In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe"-style dialogue playing well on Law & Order. Are they talking about Korean neon koans on the show now?
posted by kyrademon at 11:47 AM on April 24, 2006

It's more subtle: the tone of Law and Order dialogue used to be sort of faux-gritty, now it's faux-gritty + slightly whimsical, in a way that was instantly explained for me when I saw Overmyer's name in the credits. Gotta be a good gig, though it's a little depressing: I felt the same way when I heard Len Jenkin (I think) was making most of his living as a hollywood script doctor.

(Why yes, I've been completely out of the theater loop since about 1997. That obvious?)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:06 PM on April 24, 2006

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