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Southampton Writers Conference Offers Theatre and Film

SouthamptonWritersConfBuilding on the success of its offerings in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s literature, the Southampton Writers Conference—which author Tom Wolfe called “the best in the country”—is offering additional conferences and workshops in theatre and film this July for screenwriters, filmmakers, playwrights and directors.

Filmmakers will have the rare opportunity from July 6 to 24 to complete their own digital storytelling project under the guidance of Emmy and Director’s Guild Award-winning writer and producer Mitchell Kriegman, formerly of Wainscott Studios and creator of It’s a Big, Big World, among other shows.

Theatre world luminaries Joe Mantello (Wicked), Tina Landau (Superior Donuts), Austin Pendleton (Three Sisters), Tony Walton (Candida), Mark Wing-Davey (Mad Forest), and Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes) are the headliners for the first Theatre Directing Conference, from July 13 to 24, offering master classes and hands-on demonstrations of the kind of performance-shaping techniques that have put them at the top of their field. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to work on projects with members of Off-Broadway’s esteemed Ensemble Studio Theatre, the resident theatre company at the Writers Conference.

The Screenwriting Conference, now in its fourth year, invites screenwriters to work on scripts in all stages of development. This year’s faculty include Andrew Bienen, co-writer of Oscar winner Boys Don’t Cry; Christina Lazaridi, Oscar nominee, One Day Crossing; Frank Pugliese, Obie winner, Aven ‘U Boys; Brushfire Award winner Paula Brancato; Stephen Molton, screenwriter and author, Brothers in Arms, The Kennedys, the Castros and the Politics of Murder; and Oscar nominee Peter Riegert, By Courier.

Afternoons provide electives and evenings offer discussions with such writer/directors as Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt), Robert Benton (Bonnie and Clyde, Places in the Heart), Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) and Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy).

Once again, the evening of the Alan Pakula Prize will be devoted to a renowned director and screening of compelling representative clips.

The Playwriting Conference, now in its third year, will be offered in two sessions this summer, July 6 to 10 and July 13 to 24. Playwrights can work on bringing stories, characters and ideas on the page into vibrant life for the stage with Obie Award winner Adam Bock (A Small Fire), actress and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning playwright Leslie Ayvazian (Nine Armenians), Pulitzer Prize finalist and Drama Desk Award-winner Jon Robin Baitz (The Substance of Fire) and Tony Award nominee Emily Mann (Execution of Justice). Sharing her expertise on the craft of creating the Musical Book will be Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Marsha Norman (‘Night, Mother, The Secret Garden). Playwrights will also have the opportunity to work with the talented actors of Ensemble Studio Theatre.

The Children’s Literature Conference returns for a fourth summer, offering writers an opportunity to sharpen their storytelling skills for young audiences in workshops with the best writers in the field: Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King honoree, author and editor Andrea Davis Pinkney (Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down); National Book Award finalist and award-winning middle-grade author Tor Seidler (The Wainscott Weasel); National Book Award finalist and ALA Best Book of the Year Award-winning YA author Patricia McCormick (Purple Heart); #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot); and New York Times bestselling writer Chris Barton (Shark Vs. Train).

Novelists and short story writers will meet regularly to workshop their fiction with Meg Wolitzer (The Uncoupling), Frederic Tuten (Self Portraits: Fictions), Melissa Bank (mega-seller The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing).

Poets can opt for workshops with former Poet Laureate Billy Collins or National Book Award winner Mark Doty, or hone their skills in a Meter and Form workshop with MFA faculty member and Whiting Award-winning poet Julie Sheehan.

For creative nonfiction writers developing memoirs or crafting familiar essays, intimate, five-session workshops will be offered by three master writers: Roger Rosenblatt (author of the bestseller Making Toast), Matthew Klam (contributing writer, The New York Times Magazine), and David Rakoff (Half Empty; regular contributor to NPR’s “This American Life”).

Writing workshops for teens will be offered during the Writers Conference, from July 5 to 8 for creative writing and from July 11 to 15 for scriptwriting, under the auspices of Stony Brook Southampton’s Young American Writers Project (YAWP). Professional writers will be paired with high school students for the four- and five-day retreats, with both workshops culminating in final readings. Select pieces of student work may be eligible for publication in the YAWP E-zine (

Former television producer (AMC, Bravo) and Manhattan Track Faculty Coordinator Magdalene Brandeis will continue to create programming for the new YouTube channel launched last year. Bob’s Writing Shack features celebrated writers’ readings and popular author interviews as well as YAWP play readings.

In summer migration from classrooms on Park Avenue South, Manhattan Track students will once again be in attendance. The conference also offers sneak previews of Manhattan instructors for the fall semester Melissa Bank, Daniel Menaker and Dinitia Smith.

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