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Playwright to give commencement address

By Staff | May 15, 2009

Richard Dresser

Playwright Richard Dresser, a perennial Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) favorite, will be this year’s speaker at Shepherd University’s 136th Commencement on Saturday, May 16.

Dresser also will be awarded an honorary doctorate.

Over the past 20 years, Dresser’s plays have been widely produced on and off Broadway and in the nation’s leading regional theaters, including Shepherd’s CATF.

He recently completed a trilogy of plays about happiness in America, with each play set in a different social class: “Augusta” (working class), “The Pursuit of Happiness” (middle class), and “A View of the Harbor” (upper class). All of these plays received critical early productions by CATF and are now being produced at other regional theaters and in Europe.

His 17 published plays include “Rounding Third,” which deals with competition in American society through the prism of Little League baseball.

After premiering at the Northlight Theater in Chicago, it ran off-Broadway and has since had more than 100 productions throughout the country.

“Below the Belt,” about three American men attempting to work together in a foreign land, started at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, ran off-Broadway at the John Houseman Theatre, appeared throughout the country, and was a long-running hit in Berlin, triggering many European productions. It was subsequently made into the film “Human Error” which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival.

A graduate of Brown University, Dresser later earned a master’s degree in communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he wrote his first play. He currently teaches television writing at Rutgers University, as well as leads writing workshops throughout the country.

Dresser is a member of the Writers Guild East Foundation and a former member of New Dramatists and the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.

Shepherd’s commencement ceremony begins at 1:50 p.m. in the Butcher Center, and admission is by ticket only.