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.
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