Fact or Truth? History-Based Playwriting: A talk by Syracuse Stage Associate Artistic Director Kyle Bass – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fact or Truth? History-Based Playwriting: A talk by Syracuse Stage Associate Artistic Director Kyle Bass

Join HWS Theatre for a talk by playwright, screenwriter and dramaturg Kyle Bass on creating history-based theatre. 

HWS Theatre, in collaboration with the Summer Research Fellowship Program, will host a public lecture by Kyle Bass, playwright, Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage, and Assistant Professor of Theater at Colgate University. Bass’ talk, titled “Made Out of the Past: Slavery, Creative Imagination, and the Writing of Possessing Harriet” will be held Thursday, June 3 at 5:30 p.m. in Froelich Hall in the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts. The talk is free and open to the public.

Possessing Harriet had its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in 2018. Harriet Powell escaped enslavement in 1839 while at a hotel in Syracuse. As she made her way to eventual freedom in Canada, Powell stayed with a number of different families in Central New York, including at the home of abolitionist Gerrit Smith in Peterboro. Smith was the father of Elizabeth Smith Miller, famed Geneva, N.Y. suffrage leader and friend of William Smith, and uncle to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Bass’ play imagines a conversation between Powell and a young Elizabeth Cady. In his talk, Bass will discuss the process of researching and writing Possessing Harriet and the differences between “fact” and “truth” in history-based playwriting.

Throughout the summer of 2021, four HWS Theatre students, including Anthony Bray ’23, Samari Brown ’24, Sal Fabio ’22 and Christina Roc ’24, are working with Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program. In collaboration with the Geneva Historical Society, this project will continue the “From Beyond” performance series. Students will work alongside Woodworth to conduct archival research on un- and under-represented figures from Geneva’s history and adapt research findings to theatrical scripts, which will be performed as the Fall HWS Theatre production on Sept. 24 and 25.

Kyle Bass is the author of Possessing Harriet, commissioned by the Onondaga Historical Association, which received its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in 2018, was subsequently produced at Franklin Stage Company, and will be produced at the East Lynn Theater Company in 2022. His new plays are salt/city/blues, which will have its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in 2022, Citizen James, or The Young Man Without A Country, a one-man show on James Baldwin, commissioned by Syracuse Stage, which will stream in 2021, and the libretto for Here This Day, a new opera based on the life of American folk music legend Libba Cotten, commissioned by The Society for New Music. Bass is a prolific playwright, screenwriter, and dramaturg. He has taught in the Colgate Writers Conference, has been guest lecturer in playwriting at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, was faculty in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at Goddard College from 2006 to 2018, and from 2005 to 2018 he taught playwriting in Syracuse University’s Department of Drama and theatre courses in the Department of African American Studies. Bass is assistant professor in the Department of Theater at Colgate University where he previously served as the Burke Endowed Chair for Regional Studies and was the 2019/20 Susan P. Stroman Visiting Playwright at the University of Delaware. A two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship (for fiction in 1998, for playwriting in 2010), a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, and Pushcart Prize nominee, Bass holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from Goddard College, is associate artistic director at Syracuse Stage, and the recipient of the 2021 Impact Award as Artist as Manager presented by the Arts Administration Program at Le Moyne College. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Bass is represented by The Barbara Hogenson Agency.

Reservations are not required for this talk. For more information, contact Professor Chris Woodworth (cwoodworth@hws.edu).