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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

Poems written at the Hermitage will be read at Bookstore 1

Hermitage Fellow Robert Cording will read poems written at, and some inspired by the Hermitage Artist Retreat along with poems from his new book “Walking with Ruskin” at Bookstore 1 on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00pm. (1359 Main Street, Sarasota)

Robert CordingHermitage Fellow Robert Cording will read poems written at, and some inspired by the Hermitage Artist Retreat along with poems from his new book “Walking with Ruskin” at Bookstore 1 on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00pm. (1359 Main Street, Sarasota)

A Poem from Robert Cording

Poet Robert Cording reads his poem 1964 at the Historic Asolo Theatre in Sarasota – January 6, 2011

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Poet Robert Cording reads from his work on the stage of the Historic Asolo at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. He shared the stage the evening of January 6, 2011 with writer and pianist Lisa Weiss and composer Laura Kaminsky. It was a magical evening and Bob’s poem, 1964 gives you a good idea why.

An Afternoon With Arthur Kopit

Playwright Arthur Kopit will be reading from his latest work and answering questions on Monday, February 7 at 2pm in a free program at New College’s Sainer Pavillion in the New College Campus.

Don’t miss the chance to spend an hour with celebrated American playwright Arthur Kopit. On Monday, February 7, 2011 the Hermitage Artsit Retreat , New College of Florida, and the Asolo Repertory Theater will sponsor a free program featuring the author of Chamber Music, Wings, Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in th Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad, and the book to the musical, Nine. Kopit is a 3-time Tony Award nominee for Indians, Wings, and the book to the musical, Nine. Mr. Kopit will read from his latest work, and Asolo Rep producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards will moderate questions and answers following the reading.

The program will take place at 2pm at the Sainer Pavillion on the New College campus. Admission is FREE.

And the Winner is: Playwright John Guare

Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 Greenfield Prize has been awarded this year in Drama to Playwright John Guare. The award will be presented at a Celebration dinner on Sunday, March 27th at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director of New York’s Public Theatre, will be the keynote speaker.

John Guare
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik
Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 Greenfield Prize has been awarded this year in Drama to Playwright John Guare. The award will be presented at a Celebration dinner on Sunday, March 27th at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director of New York’s Public Theatre, will be the keynote speaker.

“Our prestigious jury has done it again,” remarked , executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “John Guare is one of America’s great playwrights. We are thrilled that over the next two years, he will be working on a new play for American theaters that will be created at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and have its first public introduction in Sarasota in 2013.”

John Guare is an award-winning playwright well known to many regular theater-goers. Among his most recognized plays are Lydie Breeze; A Free Man of Color; Bosoms and Neglect; and The House of Blue Leaves, which won an Obie and NY Drama Critics Circle Award for the Best American Play of 1970-71 and four Tonys in its 1986 Lincoln Center revival. Six Degrees of Separation received the NY Drama Critics Circle Award in 1991 for its LCT production and the Olivier Best Play Award in 1993. Additionally, Guare wrote the lyrics and co-authored the book for the 1972 Tony-winning Best Musical, Two Gentlemen of Verona. His screenplay for Louis Malle’s Atlantic City earned him an Oscar nomination. In 2003 he won the PEN/Laura Pels Master Dramatist Award; in 2004, the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2005 the Obie for sustained excellence. He is a council member of the Dramatists Guild and co-editor of The Lincoln Center Theater Review.

The Greenfield Prize winner is selected each year by a panel of experts in the arts discipline for that year’s award, which rotates annually through three arts areas, drama, music, and an open “wild card” year. This year’s category was drama, making John Guare the second playwright to receive the Greenfield Prize. Guare was selected from a pool of over 30 playwrights, nominated by a prestigious jury, three voting and three non-voting. Voting jurors were Michael Bigelow Dixon, chair and current assistant professor of theater at Goucher College, former literary manager at the Guthrie Theatre and Actors Theatre of Louisville; Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco; and Eduardo Machado, playwright currently writing for HBO television, and past artistic director of INTAR in New York City. Non-voting members included Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Joni Greenfield, representing the Greenfield Foundation and Michael D. Edwards, producing artistic director of Asolo Rep.

“We are grateful to the Greenfield Foundation for making it possible to inspire new works of art from America’s most important artists,” Rodgers continued. “The Greenfield Prize is contributing to the artistic legacy of America at this time and will continue to contribute into the future. The Hermitage Artist Retreat is proud to play a central role in this process.”

The Greenfield Prize was established in 2009 by longtime Sarasota residents Bob and Louise Greenfield through the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation. The prize is a means by which a groundbreaking, enduring work of art will be created each year at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. The Prize consists of a $30,000 commission of an original work of art, a residency at the Hermitage, and a partnership with a professional arts organization to develop the work, and assistance in moving the work forward into the American arts world. A distinguished six-person panel consisting of some of the most highly respected authorities in American art select each Greenfield Prize recipient. Three voting members on each jury are joined by representatives of the producing partner, the Greenfield Foundation and the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Since its inception, past prize winners include playwright Craig Lucus, composer Eve Beglarian and visual artist Sanford Biggers.

Hermitage Fellow, composer Lera Auerbach comes up for air

The last time Hermitage fellow Lera Auerbach was in her North Port residence, she hardly came up for air, she was so busy working on the score for her new string sextet “Seraphim Canticles .
Today she sent it into the world – to the publisher (Sikorski Musikverlag), to the commissioner (Music Accord) and to the performers (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center). The World Premiere will be in April in Lincoln Center, New York.

The last time Hermitage fellow Lera Auerbach was in her North Port residence, she hardly came up for air, she was so busy working on the score for her new string sextet “Seraphim Canticles .

Today she sent it into the world – to the publisher (Sikorski Musikverlag), to the commissioner (Music Accord) and to the performers (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center). The World Premiere will be in April in Lincoln Center, New York.

Remembering Romulus

Young artists literally sat at his feet here at the Hermitage.

While at the Hermitage, Romulus wrote about another Hermitage Fellow, writer and scientist, Meg Lowman in his play, The Flower Gatherer.
We shouldn’t have favorites, but here at the Hermitage, we can’t help ourselves. Sadly, one of our favorite artists died yesterday. Romulus Linney, a father of American playwriting, spent a month with us two years ago. Over a hundred people lined the beach, entranced and delighted as Romulus read one of his Appalachian plays. But when the crowd was gone, Romulus was at his best. Young artists, composers and writers literally sat at his feet here at the Hermitage. He shared a lifetime of wisdom filtered through his brilliant mind. How lucky we were to be in his presence.

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

Theater Icon Oskar Eustis to Speak at Greenfield Prize Celebration 2011

Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC.



Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC. This year’s presentation of the $30,000 Greenfield Prize will be in drama and be awarded to an American playwright on Sunday, March 27, at 6:00 pm at Michael’s on East, Sarasota, FL. It has become the tradition of the Greenfield Prize Celebration that a major national arts figure give the keynote address at the event. Past speakers have been Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang and renowned American painter James Rosenquist.

“I can’t think of a better person to represent the field of drama than Oskar Eustis,” commented Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of Hermitage Artist Retreat, which administers the prize. “Throughout his impressive career, Oskar has worked at some of the most respected regional theaters with some of the best playwrights and actors in the business. He has also been dedicated to the development of new plays as both a director and a producer. He was on our inaugural jury for the first Greenfield Prize in drama, given to Craig Lucas. The work premiered in 2010 at the Asolo Rep. Having accomplished artists such as Oskar Eustis involved with the Greenfield Prize and the Hermitage Artist Retreat is what helps us gain national respect and recognition for what we do. We couldn’t be more pleased to have Oskar back with us when we present the second Greenfield Prize in drama.”

Oskar Eustis has worked as a director, dramaturg, and artistic director for theaters around the country. From 1981 through 1986 he was resident director and dramaturg at the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco, and Artistic Director until 1989, when he moved to the L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum as Associate Artistic Director until 1994. Mr. Eustis then served as Artistic Director at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, for 11 years. In 2005 he took the helm at New York’s Public Theater. Among the most famous of his produced works was the commission and world premieres of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director) and Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika. In 2009, Oskar Eustis was the lead producer on the Tony award-winning revival of Hair on Broadway.

According to Eustis, “The Greenfield Prize has, in a very short time, established itself as an important badge of excellence in the American arts. I am honored to speak at the 2011 award celebration, and delighted to participate in supporting the vision and courage of American artists.”

For more information on the Greenfield Prize or to place your reservation for the March 27th event, visit the website at www.greenfieldprize.org.

Thank You from a Grateful Artful Lobster

While we’re not through balancing the books on the Artful Lobster, it’s clear that many thousands of dollars were raised that will allow us to continue supporting world-class, mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, and other primary creators.

Mother Nature set the quality standard; the temperate Gulf breezes, the azure water, miles of pristine beach, and wheeling gulls and osprey fishing for their meal. Michael’s on East stepped up with mounds of delicious lobster, ribs, chicken, chowder, corn and all the trimmings. Hermitage artists Christopher Still, Andrew McKenna Lee, Robert Blake and Fellows Sabrina Small and Meg Pierce shared their work and made it clear why they were Hermitage artists. Scott Blum and Los Rumberos provided just the right music, MC and auctioneer Cliff Roless kept the program rolling, and event chair Debbi Benedict and her committee had it all well organized. None of these events happen without a team of volunteers and our Friends of the Hermitage led by Connie Ellis are the very best. The Lemon Bay Garden Club came out before the event to help us spruce up out campus. And our media sponsors, Sarasota Magazine and Scene Magazine helped make sure that everyone knew about it in the first place. We thank them as well.

In the end, the event was a great success. While we’re not through balancing the books on the Artful Lobster, it’s clear that many thousands of dollars were raised that will allow us to continue supporting world-class, mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, and other primary creators, and then sharing them with our Gulf Coast communities in free programs for children, adults, and seniors. These funds will also help us preserve these magnificent historic buildings and protect the native ecology that we all love and enjoy so much.

The support we enjoy for our work is humbling, and it inspires us to make certain the investment in the Hermitage Artist Retreat made by individuals, foundations, corporations, and County and national government is leveraged and returned to the community in the unique benefits only we can provide.

Thank you.

Honoree Lesley Edwards and her mother, Annette Dignam Photo by Cliff Roles, courtesy of Scene Magazine


Event Chair Debbi Benedict with Hermitage President Caroline Andrus
Photo by Cliff Roles, courtesy of Scene Magazine