Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Perfect Party: A Gala Evening Celebrating A.R. Gurney

by Wade Jennings, Development Intern

A.R. Gurney and Arthur Levitt began their friendship as classmates at Williams College in the early 1950s.  Although they took divergent career paths, both have played a significant role in the history of Westport Country Playhouse, roles which will be celebrated at our 2014 Gala.

The annual Playhouse Gala is a night of celebration of the artists and individuals whose work has impacted not only the Playhouse but the American theater at-large; our honorees have ranged from the beloved actress Phylicia Rashad in 2013, to John Kander, a celebrated composer. This year we are thrilled to announce “A Perfect Party: A Gala Evening Celebrating A.R. Gurney” on Monday, September 22, honoring one of the most important playwrights of the 20th century, A.R. “Pete” Gurney, and a devoted champion of the Playhouse, Trustee Arthur Levitt.

“Pete has enjoyed a long and successful career in the American Theater-- one that has brought decades of wit, laughter, tears, and insight to audiences across the country and around the world,” says Artistic Director Mark Lamos. “Westport Country Playhouse has been a particular and proud beneficiary of many of his plays and premieres, which have delighted our audience season after season. Though almost all of his work focuses on the world and the ways of New England WASPs, he illuminates universal human conditions with acute psychological insight.” A Buffalo native, Mr. Gurney spent 25 years of his life teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before turning to playwriting, saying that one day “the dam broke.” A wealth of critically acclaimed theatre came rushing into the world. Plays like The Perfect Party, The Cocktail Hour, Children, Love Letters, and The Dining Room have enjoyed a rich production history throughout the country and the world, and have earned Mr. Gurney much recognition, including a Drama Desk Award and several Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 2006 Mr. Gurney was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The cast of The Dining Room (2013). Photo by Carol Rosegg.

We will be presenting the 2014 Playhouse Leadership Award to Playhouse Trustee Arthur Levitt. A Westport resident, Mr. Levitt was appointed by President Clinton to serve as chairman of the SEC in 1993. Skillfully managing his post until 2001, he became the longest serving chairman in the history of the SEC. Mr. Levitt is currently the host of “A Closer Look with Arthur Levitt” on Bloomberg Radio, offering interviews with the brightest minds in business and politics. He also serves as an advisor to some of the world’s most important financial institutions. Since joining the Playhouse Board of Trustees in 2008, he has become a constant source of guidance and support, and we are honored to recognize his commitment to the Playhouse, the arts, and our community.

The Gala will be “A Perfect Party” filled with glamour, celebration, and fun; to be a part of the evening contact Elizabeth Marks Juviler at ejuviler@westportplayhouse.org or (203) 571-1293, or visit our gala page on the website.

Be a part of this perfect evening designed to celebrate the unique contributions of these two men who hailed from Williams College half a century ago.

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