AMERICA'S GREATEST living playwright is coming to Savannah.
Edward Albee will make a rare appearance on Tuesday, Jan. 29 as part of the Creative Minds Lecture Series. The series is sponsored by Savannah Country Day School, which has hit a home run when it comes to landing acclaimed speakers.
Albee is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such important works as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Three Tall Women and A Delicate Balance. With Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, he is considered one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century.
“We have a wonderful committee of parents and faculty and they determine different topics the public is interested in,” says Kelly Carr, director of public relations and marketing at Savannah Country Day. “Edward Albee is someone whose name came up on the list. We’re thrilled to have him.”
The lecture series provides the school with a way to give back to the community, Carr says. “It has grown and there has been a lot of community interest,” she says.
“We have parents who have helped make this happen,” Carr says. “We’re working on next year’s lineup now. The speakers will be of the same caliber as this year’s and there will be a great deal of diversity. This is something we’re trying to grow a little bit every year.”
The lecture series was started by Headmaster Tom Bonnell. “It was something I wanted to do when I first moved here,” he says.
“My wife and I had spent six years in New York City. Schools there have the opportunity to bring in cutting-edge speakers. We decided it was something we wanted to do in Savannah for the intellectual lives of our students and also for the general public.”
The series has proven so popular that most of the lectures are sold out in advance. “While we always have a good number from the Country Day community, we’re seeing people come out that we’ve never seen before,” Bonnell says. “We’re drawing from a cross section of Savannah.”
Bonnell didn’t know that the lecture series would become such a successful event, but he hoped it would. “It has certainly surpassed all our expectations, with the quality of speakers and the support we’ve received from the community,” he says.
The first lecture of the season was held Oct. 1 and featured New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins. Other speakers scheduled for this season are Reza Aslan, writer and scholar of world religions, on March 12; Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek on April 7; and author E.L. Doctorow on April 28.
Bonnell credits the Creative Minds committee for landing such impressive speakers. He is particularly grateful to parents Robin Gold, who chairs the committee, and Rob Gibson, who is the executive and artistic director of the Savannah Music Festival.
“How do you go about getting in touch with someone like Edward Albee?” Bonnell says. “Usually it’s through agents or publishers. Sometimes it’s through a personal connection. EL Doctorow, our final speaker this year, was through a personal connection. “
Putting together such a successful series takes lots of planning. “We’ve virtually done the schedule for next year and are starting the schedule for 2009,” Bonnell says. “You have to be thinking several years in advance.”
Bonnell isn’t dropping any hints for next season’s schedule. “It will be coming out before too long,” he says.
In the meantime, we can look forward to hearing Albee, who recently was awarded a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. His plays have literally changed the landscape of American drama.
“People sometimes ask, ‘Is there a theme?’ Part of the idea of a school should be that it is an intellectual community where we bring in different opportunities for the students,” Bonnell says.
“The speakers come in during the day and speak to classes or to a group of students,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for students to get to speak with someone of this stature. Hopefully it will inspire someone to become the next Edward Albee or E.L. Doctorow.
Savannah Country Day School presents Edward Albee for the Creative Minds Lecture Series on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at 824 Stillwood Dr. in Jelks Auditorium. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door, and $5 for students, seniors and military. Call 961-8828 or visit www.savcds.org.