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Contact: Tom McLaughlin

Kean to Host International Conference on American Drama

UNION, N.J. - Kean University will host an International Conference on American Drama, in partnership with a production of Our Town, directed by guest director, Bill Bowers, a Broadway actor well known for his outstanding achievements in physicalization and mime. The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, on the university’s main campus, located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, N.J. Both the conference and the play are open to the public.

“The conference will address a broad range of 20th century American plays, featuring major scholars and playwrights in the field,” according to Jan Balakian, professor of English at Kean who organized the conference. “Our Town is the perfect play for a community, because, as the stage manager in the play says, it attempts to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life. Everyone needs to be reminded about the poetic quality of our everyday lives.  In addition, Wilder innovated theatrical form by exploding time, making him a truly Modernist writer.”

Featured speakers will include: Todd London, artistic director, New Dramatists; Emily Mann, playwright and artistic director, The McCarter Theater; Jill Dolan, professor of English and Theater, Princeton University, who will interview Mann about her work; and Chris Bigsby, professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia; Distinguished Professor of English Brenda Murphy from The University of Connecticut; Louise Bernard, curator of the American Literature Collection at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library, will discuss methods of using archives in the 21st century. In addition, more than 50 professors, from around the world will lecture and lead discussions on American drama.

Performances of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town will be held on October 15, 16, 20, 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.; October 17 and 30 at 2 p.m.; and October 21 at 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., prior to the Friday, October 20th performance, scholars and directors of Our Town will discuss the play.

Our Town tickets are $10 for conference guests and Kean students; $12 for faculty, staff, seniors and alumni and $15 for the general public. To purchase tickets, please contact the Kean Stage Box Office at 908.737.SHOW.

Conference registration is $10 for Kean students; $25 for high school teachers; and $25 for the general public. For the complete program and to register, please visit the conference website at

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. While Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers, it is also a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduatedegrees and more than 45 options leading to a master’s degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.