Arts and Politics
An evening with Jane Alexander and Ed Sherin
Click here to watch Jane Alexander and Ed Sherin on BUniverse.
Award-winning actress Jane Alexander and director Ed Sherin discusstheir marriage, their careers, and the state of contemporary Americantheater in an intimate evening hosted by the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.The talk, moderated by theater critic Robert Brustein, marks the debutof a joint exhibition of the couple’s recently acquired papers at thecenter, as well as the celebration of the late Howard Gotlieb’sbirthday. (Gotlieb [Hon.’88], the center’s founder, died in 2005.)
Alexanderspeaks about the often-fractured dialogue between politics and thearts, drawing on her experience as former chairman of the National Endowment for the Artsunder President Bill Clinton. Sherin laments the lack of governmentsupport for theater initiatives, calling the United States a “strongdisappointment” in comparison to Europe. They discuss the evolution ofregional and national theater over the years, citing the positivegrowth of small theaters but noting that funding for major productionshas decreased.
Both speakers, who now work predominantly intelevision, recall their days on the stage, where they oftencollaborated on award-winning Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Inperhaps their most memorable play, The Great White Hope,Alexander and Sherin experienced firsthand the explosiveness of raceissues during the civil rights era. When her character, a black man’slover, killed herself, Alexander recalls, “the white audience wassympathetic, and the black audience cheered.”
October 24, 2007, 5:30 p.m.
About the Speakers:
Jane Alexander,a Boston native, is a renowned actress and former chairperson of theNational Endowment for the Arts (NEA). A Broadway staple, she firstimpressed audiences in The Great White Hope (1969), whichearned her a Tony Award. She has won two Emmy Awards and is a four-timeAcademy Award nominee. She is the author of Command Performance: An Actress in the Theatre of Politics (2000),an account of the opposition she faced from the Republican-led Congressin funding controversial projects at the NEA. Alexander most recentlystarred in the film Feast of Love and the HBO drama Tell Me You Love Me.
Ed Sherinis an award-winning director and producer in theater, film, andtelevision. He began his career as an actor in the Phoenix TheaterCompany and the New York Shakespeare Festival. In the 1960s, he begandirecting for the Arena Stage. There he first performed The Great White Hope,for which he later won a Drama Desk Award, a Drama Critics Award, andan Outer Circle Award. Since the 1980s, Sherin has worked intelevision, including a stint as a producer and director of the EmmyAward–winning drama series Law & Order.
Robert Brusteinis the founding director of the Yale Repertory and American RepertoryTheatres and a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame. In his 50 years ofinvolvement in American theater, he has supervised more than 200productions, written 13 books on theater and society, and won numerousnational and local awards. He has served as dean of the Yale School ofDrama, a professor of English at Harvard University, and adistinguished scholar at Suffolk University. Brustein has been thedrama critic at the New Republic since 1959. His papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.+ Comments