Actress Jane Alexander and Playwright Tina Howe, friends and colleagues since they were housemates at Sarah Lawrence decades ago, return to the College on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. to talk about how they have come ‘full circle’ since Howe's first play, in which Alexander performed when they were students, to the current Off-Broadway production of Howe's latest play, Chasing Manet, in which Alexander stars. The informal discussion, moderated by Theatre faculty member Ed Sherin in the Heimbold Visual Arts Center, is free and open to the public. Reservations are required. Please call (914) 395 2412 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The earliest collaboration for the two alumnae began when Alexander, who acted in summer stock and productions at the College, read Howe’s first attempt at writing plays and told her she wanted to direct it. “Jane was game for anything,” says Howe. “And the play turned out to be a triumph. When it was over, I realized I wanted to do this for ever and ever.”
For Chasing Manet, running through May 2 at Primary Stages, Howe turned to Alexander as she worked on the piece, trying to find the right balance of comedic and tragic elements. Set in a nursing home, Alexander plays an aging, rebellious painter from a distinguished Boston family who shares a room with an ebullient Jewish woman, played by Lynne Cohen. Together they plot to escape and head to Paris aboard the QE2. “I knew the tone was eluding me, and then I thought of Jane,” says Howe. “I knew Jane could nail it.”
Tina Howe’s plays include The Nest, Birth and After Birth, Museum, The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, Approaching Zanzibar, One Shoe Off, Pride's Crossing, Such Small Hands, Rembrandt's Gift, and new translations of Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson, as well as a host of shorter plays. These works premiered at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center, Second Stage, The Old Globe Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, The Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Atlantic Theater Company.
Among her many awards are an Obie for Distinguished playwriting, a Tony nomination for best Play, an Outer Circle Critics Award, a Rockefeller Grant, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the Sidney Kingsley Award, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, two honorary degrees and the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre. A two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Howe has been a visiting professor at Hunter College since 1990 and has also taught master classes at NYU, UCLA, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. Howe has also served on the council of the Dramatists Guild since 1990.
Jane Alexander is an award-winning actress, author and former director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Although perhaps best known for playing the female lead in The Great White Hope on both stage and screen, Alexander has played a wide array of roles in both theater and film. Her additional screen credits include All the President's Men, Kramer vs. Kramer and Testament, all of which earned her Oscar nominations. She serves on various boards, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Project Greenhope, the National Stroke Association, and Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament. She has received the Israel Cultural Award and the Helen Caldicott Leadership Award. Alexander is also a fellow of the International Leadership Forum. Her recent film credits include three in 2009: a thriller, The Unborn, released in January, as well as Gigantic, a romantic comedy starring Ed Asner and John Goodman, and the mega-production, Terminator Salvation, the $200-million blockbuster, both to be released this spring.