Film and theatre director Mike Nichols, who directed the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and novelist Michael Chabon (chair of the colony’s board of directors) presented the medal at the ceremony, which drew about 1,500 attendees to the colony’s idyllic grounds in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
According to the press release, the MacDowell Medal is “given to an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his/her field.” Albee is the third playwright who has received the medal. Thornton Wilder (Our Town) received it in 1960, and Lillian Hellman (Little Foxes) in 1976.
Previous medalists in other fields include visual artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), composer Leonard Bernstein (1987), architect I.M. Pei (1998), filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1989), interdisciplinary artist Merce Cunningham (2003), and writer Alice Munro (2006).
The ceremony was followed by “Make a Scene,” a performance of 10-minute plays resulting from this year’s Make Art collaboration with Andy’s Summer Playhouse in nearby Wilton. During the month of July, current MacDowell Fellows Stephen Karam and Alexandra Napier worked with Jennifer Emerson Foreman, Andy’s lab director, to lead workshops for young playwrights enrolled in the John C. Russell Playwriting Lab.
Karam is currently rewriting his play Sons of the Prophet for a premiere this fall at Roundabout. Other current artists-in-residence are the Tony- and Obie Award-winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel), who is working on a commission for Lincoln Center Theater; and the beloved New York artist John Kelly, who is re-conceiving his work Find My Way Homefor performances at New York Live Arts this October. Between November 2010 and April 2011, the colony also hosted 23 artists working in theatre, including David Adjmi and Young Jean Lee, whose MacDowell-developed works will make New York premieres in the 2011-12 season. — RG