The Emerson community is invited to a conversation with this year’s Waldman Chair, prolific and award-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on Wednesday, April 3, at 5:00 PM.
The Waldman Chair in Theater Arts, in the Department of Performing Arts, was established in 2007 and is funded by Honey Waldman ’46 and her sister, Gladys Waldman Brownstein, in honor of their parents, Harry Waldman and Dora Winiker. It is overseen by ArtsEmerson.
Last year’s Chair was Maurice Hines, renowned director and choreographer.
The chair is filled annually by “a distinguished and broadly recognized figure in theater arts.” Past chairs include actors, directors, and composers such as Adam Guettel, Marian Seldes, and F. Murray Abraham.
From 2:00-3:30 PM on April 3, Parks will conduct a “Watch Me Work” session in the Randall Lobby in the Paramount Center. This will be a performance piece and meditation on the artistic process, and an actual work session. The audience is welcome to observe, and/or work on something of their own. A question-and-answer session with Parks will be held toward the end of the event.
Parks was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave” in 2002. She is particularly well known for being the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog, a Broadway hit. Other plays include In the Blood, Venus, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. She has also written several screenplays and novels, and her project 365 Plays/365 Days was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide in 2007, making it one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history.
Parks is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award, and has been awarded grants from numerous organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. She currently serves as the Master Writer Chair at the Public Theatre in New York City.
Honey Waldman majored in English at Emerson, with a minor in speech and drama. She appeared in a number of student theatrical productions and was active in the Hillel organization. After graduation, she performed on stage and in films. In 1958, Waldman personally oversaw the renovation of the former Broadway Theater in Nyack, New York, and renamed it the Tappan Zee Playhouse. She guided its critically acclaimed creative efforts, and for more than a decade, the playhouse was well known as a summer stock theater. It established a national reputation for professional productions and all-star casts that included performers such as Jack Benny, Helen Hayes, and Liza Minnelli.