Playwright Terrence McNally to be in residence

TerrenceMcNally-B W PhotoBy Kendra Beattie
College of Fine Arts and Communication Media Office

 CONWAY — The University of Central Arkansas will round out its artist-in-residence program this semester with critically acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally, who will be on campus Dec. 2–4.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of McNally’s first Broadway play, “And Things That Go Bump in the Night”. UCA’s is the only campus he will visit fresh upon the release of his “Selected Works” (Grove Press), for which UCA professor Dr. Raymond Frontain received a $24,000 grant to edit.

McNally’s residency is highly anticipated among students and faculty alike, especially in the writing and theatre programs, but it brings a particularly unique opportunity to theatre students.

At 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the Bridges/Larson Theatre in the Snow Fine Arts Center — during the playwright’s first campus event — McNally will attend a series of his own one-act plays directed and performed by UCA students. Following the performances, McNally will participate in a discussion session with the students to conclude “A Night with Playwright Terrence McNally”. Those events are free and open to the public.

“Directing a one-act is challenging and yet deeply fulfilling,” said Jordyn Daniels, a senior theatre major and one-act play director. “We all have been working very hard on our projects, and [everyone is] very excited to be welcoming Terrence McNally into this process.

“This is a great opportunity and we all are eager to learn and grow as artists.”

McNally’s resume’ is decorated with Tony Awards, Emmy Awards and many off-Broadway and Broadway successes throughout his career. In the 1960s and 1970s, he lent himself to the burgeoning counterculture movement with a theatrical, creative flair that his website biography describes as a wonderful addition of “laser-sharp wit and insight” to the theatre world.

Some of his most recognizable Tony Award-winning works are “Master Class”, “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and musical books “Ragtime” and “The Kiss of the Spider Woman”. His recent works include “Unusual Acts of Devotion” at Philadelphia Theatre Company as well as his Broadway appearances with the drama “Mothers and Sons”, the musicals “Catch Me if You Can” and “The Visit” and highly successful revivals of “Master Class” and “It’s Only a Play”. “Master Class” is being made into a film starring Meryl Streep.

“If you’re into the theater, or really even writing, it doesn’t get any better than this. [McNally] is a living legend,” said Dr. Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

In addition to attending the student-produced versions of his one-act plays, McNally will also conduct a craft talk and student question-and-answer session at 3 p.m. on Dec. 3 in the Studio Theatre in the Snow Fine Arts Center.

At 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, McNally will headline an intimate cocktail party fundraiser for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre at the UCA President’s Home. Tickets are $100 each and are available at the AST web site,

Following the fundraiser, McNally will give a lecture, “A Writer’s Life in Theatre”, at 7:30 p.m. in the College of Business Auditorium. The lecture will be “inspiring for both writers and actors,” Seymour said, and is free and open to the public.

McNally’s residency will conclude with the interview-style presentation “Contemporary Opera and Social Justice: An Interview with Terrence McNally,” at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and Visitor Center. The interview is free and open to the public.

“His first love before any of his other [playwriting] is opera,” Seymour said. “Anybody who’s interested in opera, civil rights or writing about these [social injustice issues] should come meet McNally.”

Seymour encourages students and the public to take the opportunity to enjoy McNally’s residency events on campus as UCA is “very lucky to get him here.” Although final projects are due and final exams are closing in, students should “hang in there” and take the chance to listen to, meet and appreciate this great American playwright.

The Artist in Residence program is funded by UCA’s arts fee and is administered by the College of Fine Arts and Communication. For more information about the program, call the Office of the Dean, College of Fine Arts and Communication, at (501) 450-3293 or e-mail

The UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication includes the Departments of Art, Communication, Mass Communication and Theatre, Music and Writing. The college’s primary mission is the preparation of the next generation of artists, educators and communicators. For more information about CFAC, visit or call (501) 450-3293.