2002 Yaddo Summer BenefitSaratoga Springs, NY (May 20, 2002) — Award-winning stage and screen actress Kathleen Chalfant will bring to life the extraordinary Katherine Anne Porter in a theatrical program at this year's Yaddo Summer Benefit, to be held 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27, in the Music Room of the Yaddo Mansion in Saratoga Springs.
Ms. Chalfant, under the direction of David Esbjornson, will perform a portion of a new one-woman play, "Passenger on the Ship of Fools," that was written by Yaddo writer Laura Furman and Lynn C. Miller. "Passenger on the Ship of Fools" follows Ms. Porter, considered one of this country's most brilliant writers, as she works to finish her novel Ship of Fools, the book she had been promising the public and her publishers for 25 years. Everything is at stake: She's 71 years old, she's broke, and her reputation may rest on this book. Although she could not have predicted it, the novel - partially written at Yaddo during extended visits at the artists' community in the 1940s and 1950s - eventually became a bestseller and a popular movie, making her world famous.
Ms. Porter - who once declared, "My life has been incredible, I don't believe a word of it!" - was a prolific letter writer throughout her life, and frequently wrote about the important role Yaddo had in nurturing her career. In fact, she enjoyed upstate New York so much that she bought and lived for a time in a house, South Hill, in Ballston Spa outside Saratoga Springs.
"Something was added to me at Yaddo. I feel as if there were great reserves of strength for me to draw upon that I know were not there when I first came to Yaddo," she wrote after one of her Yaddo visits.
Currently directing the Broadway production of Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning new play, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Mr. Esbjornson recently completed a seven-year tenure as artistic director at New York's Classic Stage Company with a production of Neal Bell's Therese Raquin, which earned him an Obie Award for Outstanding Direction.
Ms. Furman has published five books of fiction, including the recent Drinking with the Cook, and a memoir, Ordinary Paradise. She is Series Editor of the O'Henry Prize Stories. She is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Furman has been a guest artist at Yaddo several times, most recently last summer, and is a Member of The Corporation of Yaddo.
Ms. Miller has adapted the work of many modern and contemporary writers, including Richard Howard, Alice Adams, and Barbara Pym, for stage performances. Six of her plays have been produced on stages across the United States, and she currently tours with performance pieces she created based on the work of Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton. Her novel, The Fool's Journey, is forthcoming this fall. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin.
Tickets for the 2002 Yaddo Summer Benefit are $125 for Patrons and $175 for Special Patrons. For additional information, please contact Lynn Farenell, 518.584.0746 or lfarenell at our domain (please correct email address).