Tony-award winning theater director Oskar Eustis discusses his film “Theater of War”

In partnership with New College, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, and The Gulf Coast Foundation, the Hermitage presents a screening of “The Theater of War,” a documentary about the making of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, as produced by NYC’s Public Theater in Central Park. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director for NYC’s Public Theater, will be at the screening to talk about the making of the play, and enter dialogue with the audience.

In partnership with New College, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, and The Gulf Coast Foundation, the Hermitage presents a screening of “The Theater of War,” a documentary about the making of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, as produced by NYC’s Public Theater in Central Park. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director for NYC’s Public Theater, will be at the screening to talk about the making of the play, and enter dialogue with the audience.

Event date: Sunday, March 27 at 1:00 pm

Price: FREE, but reservations are required. Seating is limited. Call the Asolo Theatre reservation line 941-351-9010 x 4710.

Location: The Sainer Pavilion at New College, 5313 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, Florida 34243

Romulus Linney – Losing One Of Our Own

Playwright Romulus Linney passed away yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

Romulus Linney listens to playwright Dennis Green read from his work in the Hermitage House

When playwright Tennessee Williams died at age 71 in 1983 reporter Mike Wallace delivered a most moving tribute to him in a radio eulogy. In this essay, Wallace described a writer (Williams) whose greatest gifts had long ago been exhausted but in spite of all that had happened to him, in spite of repeated public failure and public rejection, he described a writer who got up every morning, and wrote. Every morning. He was a writer’s writer. Writing wasn’t what Tennessee Williams did, it was who he was.

Playwright Romulus Linney died yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

In the spring of 1990, Romulus Linney gave me one of my seminal theatrical experiences – one of the three or four experiences in the theatre, which I will never forget. It was at the Humana Festival of New Plays, produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY. The play was simply named “2.” It was the story of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s number 2 man, and it was set during the Nuremburg Trials. Florida Studio Theater subsequently produced the play in 1997.

My experience seeing “2” was transformational – I had never seen a play affect an audience, and felt a play affect me in quite the same way. At the end of the play, the audience finds itself in a very different place, from the place it expected to be. The play transforms from an artifact of history – the tale of what happened to a certain (monstrous) person at a certain time in history, to a visceral connection between the audience and the monster we have seen on stage. And the connection is made in a stunning, theatrical moment at play’s end. Breathtaking. When I asked him about the play during his Hermitage residency, he gave the credit to his Louisville actor, William Duff-Griffin. He said something like “When you have someone like Bill Griffin in the role, you just get out of the way.”

Generosity of spirit was characteristic of this southern gentleman. He was a committed believer in artist communities, and a former board member of Yaddo, where he often went to write. “Artist communities, writer’s colonies, save lives,” he told more than one Sarasota County audience, “they saved mine.” At a low point in his young career, he went to Yaddo, an artist community in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he found the encouragement of fellow writers restored his confidence and resolve. It fed him what he needed to go on. So he did.

Romulus was an unpretentious man with unlimited intellectual gifts, and down-to-earth tastes. He loved diner food. While at the Hermitage, he was a regular at the Hungry Hound Café, a hole-in-the-wall hidden in a strip mall in Englewood, Fl. As far as I know, once he found it, he took every evening meal there. He took everyone else he could get to go with him, too. When he left the Hermitage for the last time, we gave him a Hungry Hound T-shirt.

The generosity, which defined Romulus at the Hermitage, was most evident with how he interacted with some of the younger artists who shared their time with him. Both composers and painters sat at his feet, anxiously seeking his opinion and advice, which he gave honestly but with care.

When asked about his creative process, we would say with the twinge of a southern lilt, “I tell my subconscious that I plan to be at my desk at 8am, and I invite it to meet me there.”

As his New York Times obituary observes, Romulus never achieved the household recognition of a Neil Simon or a David Mamet. His one Broadway play closed in five days. But he was universally admired by his peers for his craftsmanship, scholarship, and his prodigious ability to mine the deep humanity of his characters. He loved history and used it often to write about his time.

“When this is all over, my writing will add up to the sum total of me,” he said in an interview quoted in the Times. “The choices I make with my writing have a lot to do with myself as an unfolding personality, so that in the end your writing is really your destiny. It’s a question of finding that central thing that’s yours to say and yours alone.”

Like Tennessee Williams, writing wasn’t what he did, it was who he was. He was a talent of our time, and his loss is shared by us all.

The full New York Times obituary can be found at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/arts/16linney.html?ref=arts

Hermitage Artist Shows in New Jersey

We are proud that Hermitage Fellow Barbara Ellmann, an artist who worked at the Hermitage in Encaustics (pigment infused wax) has opened a show featuring work she completed during her Hermitage residency.

We are proud that Hermitage Fellow Barbara Ellmann, an artist who worked this past year at the Hermitage has opened an exhibition featuring work she completed during her Hermitage residency. Entitled “WHAT I SAW: Paintings from the Hermitage, Gulf Coast, Florida” the show opened on November 12, and will continue to December 18th in the Tomasulo Gallery in the MacKay Library of the Cranford campus of Union County College, New Jersey.

Read all about the exhibition in New Jersey Today

Ringling Museum/Hermitage Partnership

The Hermitage is proud of a new partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. This extensive agreement will bring Hermitage artists to the grounds of the Museum as resident artists staying in the newly restored Ringling Cottage new the Ca d’ Zan mansion. The residency will be known as the Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce a partnership with The John and
Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which will establish a residency for a Hermitage Fellow
on the museum grounds. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is named to commemorate the Gulf Coast
Community Foundation’s financial support in the renovation of the Ringling Cottage
wherein the residency will be housed. As with all Hermitage Fellows, the artist or artists
will have up to six weeks time to work in this prestigious location. Also, as with all
Hermitage Fellows, the artist(s) will present two community “give-back” programs.
“When The Ringling Museum contacted us about this possibility, we were very
excited,” remarked Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Our campus on Manasota Key
has five buildings and about the same number of work spaces. This gives us the
opportunity to expand our live/work space without any capital investment. It also allows
us to accommodate another world-class artist who we will be able to share with the
community.”

Unlike the artists invited to the Manasota campus that may or may not be working
on a specific project, it is expected that the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation/Hermitage Residency at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will
be offered to artists working on projects that can benefit by living and working on the
Museum grounds. Those projects might be directly related to Ringling collections,
exhibitions, and programs, or there may be a tangential connection as to studies in
history, social sciences, architecture, etc. There are many reasons to be inspired by the
setting of The Ringling Museum campus.

“This is a remarkable situation between three organizations that collectively
understand the important contribution that art makes to our lives,” commented Dwight
Currie, Interim Deputy Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Programs for The
Ringling Museum. “While it is our mission to preserve and enhance an appreciation of
art, we are not often actively involved in its creation. The new partnership with the
Hermitage affords us that role. And it goes without saying how much we appreciate the
generous support of our donors and organizations like the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation who make it possible for us to provide our services to the community. The
Museum is proud to join these two outstanding organizations in creating this
opportunity.”

The first Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Resident will be the
writer Steve Kuusisto. Kuusisto is a past Hermitage Fellow. He is a writer who writes
about experiencing life as someone with a disability; he has been blind since birth.
During his residency from January 17 to February 27, 2011, he will be adding to his ongoing
research into the relationship between the circus and people with disabilities. As
part of the residency program, the public is invited to attend a presentation to be given by
Kuusisto on Saturday, February 19, 2011 in the Circus Museum.

“The museum and all of its resources are very unique assets which we can now
offer to our renowned group of artists,” Rodgers continued. “Our selection committee has
been charged with submitting names of artists who will benefit from this type of
experience, which will be quite different from being on the Manasota Key campus. We
are very excited to be adding this unique artistic experience to our program.”

Two Great New Board Members

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that Brad Goddard, Vice President, Relationship Manager of PNC Wealth Management and John Cranor, III (pictured left), present Chair of AFC Enterprises, have both joined its Board of Directors for a three-year term effective immediately.

Brad Goddard
Brad Goddard
The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that Brad Goddard, Vice President, Relationship Manager of PNC Wealth Management and John Cranor, III, present Chair of AFC Enterprises, have both joined its Board of Directors for a three-year term effective immediately.

“We welcome Brad and John to our board,” remarked Executive Director Bruce Rodgers. “Their perspective and expertise will be a great addition to our already dynamic group of trustees. I look forward to working with them both as the Hermitage continues to grow and gain recognition locally as well as regionally and nationally.”

Brad Goddard brings over 25 years of experience in corporate banking services, wealth creation and management of privately held businesses and entrepreneurs. He also has a strong background in not-for-profit board participation with organizations that include both human services and the arts.
John Cranor had an impressive career as CEO and President of a variety of businesses, including KFC Worldwide, Wilson Sporting Goods and two divisions of Pepsi Cola. In Sarasota, he was President and CEO of New College Foundation, Inc. for five years. He has also served many not-for-profit boards and community foundations.

“John Cranor and Brad Goddard are tremendous additions to our board,” said Board President Caroline Andrus. “Each brings broad experience, important skills, as well as a shared passion for The Hermitage mission.