The IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute and the IUPUI English Department present a discussion with James Still, IRT's Playwright-in-Residence, as part of the 2018 Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series. The Reiberg Series, founded in 1997 in honor of former IUPUI English Department chair Rufus Reiberg and his wife Louise, brings nationally and regionally acclaimed writers to the campus to present their work to students, faculty and the community.
Still invites guests to his discussion where he'll address topics that have had a tremendous impact on his writing career.
“I look forward to discussing my commitment to new play development, and also reading some of my own work—which will include a surprise or two for the audience,” said Still of his upcoming discussion at the Reiberg Reading Series.
The event, held on February 23 at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.
Dedication to community engagement and research has had a tremendous role throughout much of Still's career—particularly the “Indiana series,” a body of work and plays dedicated to telling the Hoosier narrative. His play Looking Over The President’s Shoulder, which comes to the IRT Upperstage from March 27-May 6, is inspired by the life of Indiana-native, Alonzo Fields. Still came to develop Field’s incredible story as a White House Butler to U.S. four Presidents--Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower--with the help and friendship of Mayland Fields, widow of Fields. Looking Over the President’s Shoulder premiered as a new play in 2001, has since been produced at theaters across the country and in 2018 will play for a third time at the IRT.
Much of Still’s work is dedicated to recording and archiving oral histories and his play, April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream chronicles one fictitious and Indy-based family’s experience on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Still’s research included dozens of first-hand accounts from the men and women who witnessed Robert Kennedy’s speech from the back of a pick-up truck near 16th and Broadway streets in downtown, Indianapolis. Those first-hand accounts inspired the writing of each character in April 4, 1968.
And it’s not just Still’s dedication to community and preserving Hoosier history that make him a treasure in Indianapolis and beyond—it’s also his desire to mentor the next generation of playwrights and storytellers, which he accomplishes through the support of John and Sarah Lechleiter.
"I try to mentor other artists as an honest response to their moment at hand. Sometimes that mentoring is informal, sometimes it is more intentional and sometimes it's more structured, like the monthly mentoring I'm doing this season with Indianapolis-based writers Iris Dauterman and Bennett Ayers. My style is about offering an empathetic perspective," said Still, adding that his aim as a mentor is to offer strategy and community for a writer who might feel alone or isolated.
The Lechleiter's, who recently named the James Still Playwright-in-Residence position in perpetuity, ensures that Still can continue to call Indianapolis his artistic home for many years to come.
IF YOU GO
James Still’s discussion will take place on Friday, February 23 from 7-8:30 p.m. in IUPUI's University Library, located at 755 W. Michigan St. Visitor parking is available in the North Street Garage, 819 W. North St. and the Vermont Street Garage, 1004 W. Vermont Street. For parking information, visit Parking Services.
PRICE: Free and open to the public | RSVP here.
ABOUT JAMES STILL
James Still is a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose plays have been produced throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, South African, China, and Japan. This year he is celebrating his 20th season as Playwright-in-Residence at Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT), where audiences have seen 15 of his plays on all three of its stages. His recent work includes a trilogy of linked-plays: The House that Jack Built (IRT), Appoggiatura (Denver Center Theatre), and Miranda (Illusion Theater, Minneapolis).
Other recent work includes April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream (IRT); two plays about the Lincolns, The Window Lincoln and The Heavens are Hung in Black (both premiering at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.); a play for one actor about culinary icon James Beard called I Love to Eat (Portland Center Stage); a play for 57 actors called A Long Bridge over Deep Waters (Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles); Looking Over the President's Shoulder about Indiana native Alonzo Fields (premiered at IRT, produced at theaters across the country); Amber Waves (The Kennedy Center and IRT); and And Then They Came for Me, which has been produced at theaters around the world.
Still's short play When Miss Lydia Hinkley Gives a Bird was a winner of Red Bull Theater's Short New Play Festival and performed at many festivals. His new plays include (A) New World and Black Beauty (Seattle Children's Theatre). James is an elected member of both the Nation Theatre Conference in New York and the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center. He received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award from the William Inge Festival and the Todd McNerney New Play Prize from Spoleto. He grew up in a tiny town in Kansas and is a longtime resident of Los Angeles.
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