UK Happenings

UK Playwright's Chellgren Lecture to Focus on 'Lost Cause' Myth

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2017) Chellgren Endowed Professor Herman Daniel Farrell III, an associate professor in the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance, will present a lecture as part of the Chellgren Seminar Series. The talk, “Dramatic Storytelling and the ‘Lost Cause’ Myth,” will begin 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Woodward Hall in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. A reception will immediately follow this lecture.

Fictional narratives, presented on stage, in films and on television, have played a key role in the ongoing debate about slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and its aftermath. From “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to “The Clansman” to “Birth of a Nation” to “Gone With the Wind” to “Roots” to “12 Years a Slave” — plays, films and TV shows, and their writers, have created, crafted, demythologized and debunked the “lost cause” myth over the past century and a half.

This lecture will briefly introduce students to the contemporary scholarship in history, theatre and films studies that have been unpacking the historical and fictional “lost cause” narratives and counter-narratives for the past several decades. And hopefully, it will encourage and inspire a deeper and more critical examination of the genesis and perpetuation of long-held racial/cultural beliefs.

Herman Daniel Farrell III was co-writer of the award-winning and critically acclaimed HBO film “Boycott” about Martin Luther King Jr., for which he was nominated for a Humanitas Prize. His play productions include: “civilian,” 2011 New York International Fringe Festival; “Rome,” 2004 New York International Fringe Festival; “Portrait of a President,” 2002 New York International Fringe Festival (Excellence in Playwriting Award); “Solo Goya,” Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab at HERE (NY 1998); “Bedfellows,” The Flea Theater (NY 1997) and The Echo Theater Company (LA 1996) (Drama-Logue Award and Critic’s Choice).

Farrell’s plays have been developed in workshops and readings at Manhattan Theater Club, Crossroads Theater Company, Primary Stages, The Working Theater, New Dramatists and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference. His work has been recognized and honored by several national arts institutions: New Dramatists (member playwright 1995-2002, Joe Calloway Award); National Endowment for the Arts grants (“To Mandela” at The Working Theater, 1998; and “There” at Primary Stages, 1996); MacDowell Colony Fellowship, 1996; 1994, 1995 and 1999 National Playwrights Conference (“Bedfellows,” Brodkin Scholarship Award; “There,” first Eric Kocher Playwriting Award; and “Memorial Day”).

At UK, Farrell teaches playwriting, theatre history and seminars on playwrights (Eugene O'Neill, August Wilson, Contemporary Women Playwrights), as well as his course Staging History that examines historical dramas and involves the devising of a documentary drama over the course of one semester. Farrell's play “civilian,” a documentary drama derived from work in the class and based on oral history transcripts of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who studied at UK, premiered in 2011 at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Farrell, who holds a bachelor’s degree in drama from Vassar College, a juris doctor from New York University School of Law, and an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University, more recently completed, “Cousins Table,” a family drama; “universitas,” a behind-the-scenes look into university politics, “Ringolevio,” a screenplay about nonviolence; “General George Washington,” a trilogy of plays on the life of Washington during the American Revolution; and a short commissioned work for the American Slavery Project called “Assento,” part of the Writing Collaborative of “Unheard Voices,” a theatrical response to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan. Excerpts from "Assento" received a staged reading in May 2012 at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Cultural Center in New York City. He served as the Kentucky Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild of America from 2011-2014 and is a member of the Eugene O'Neill Society.

The purpose of the Chellgren Seminar Series is to contribute to the intellectual aspects of the undergraduate experience by inviting eminent scholars to deliver brief, provocative presentations on issues that expand our thinking and imagination. The Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence is part of the Division of Student and Academic Life at UK.

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