Hollywood Actors Bruce Vilanch and Stephen Tobolowsky, with Chapman Theatre Student Morgan Lauff, Bring to Life the Works of Allan Gurganus (“Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”)

Mary Platt
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Chapman University

ORANGE, Calif. – The popular WordTheatre: Giving Voice to Great Writing® series returns to Chapman University this fall, with the first performance scheduled on Monday, September 22 at 7 p.m. in the beautiful Fish Interfaith Center.   The featured author will be bestselling novelist Allan Gurganus (“Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”), who will be in attendance, participate in a Q&A and will sign books following the event.  The performance is free and open to the public.

The featured actors reading Gurganus’ short stories are Bruce Vilanch (six-time Emmy winner, “Hollywood Squares” regular and head writer for the Oscars telecast) and Stephen Tobolowsky (“Groundhog Day,” “Californication” and the first release from Chapman University’s professional film company, Chapman Filmed Entertainment, “The Barber”).   Chapman senior theatre BFA candidate Morgan Lauff ’15 will join the cast to read one story.

WordTheatre® brings well-known authors’ stories to life by having their works performed by professional Hollywood actors from television and the motion picture industry.  The free series will once again be curated and directed by Cedering Fox, nationally recognized voiceover artist, known as the “voice of the Oscars.”

Chapman’s WordTheatre®, presented by the Department of English, including renowned novelist and short-story writer Richard Bausch, was a great success during its Chapman debut last fall.  Packed audiences, including Chapman ​faculty and students​ and the greater Orange County community, were stunned by the performances. “WordTheatre is a passionate, compelling and always enlightening interpretation of contemporary fiction by some of today’s finest actors,” says Bausch.  “The series is also performed in Los Angeles, New York City and London, so Chapman audiences receive a literary/theatrical treat on the very highest level. We’re delighted to bring these popular and engaging events back to Chapman for a second season.”

Cedering Fox selects the stories, casts esteemed film and television actors and directs the performances.  Each event features one Chapman theatre student joining the cast of professional actors.  Ms. Fox is careful to find the perfect voice for each story performed. Actor/author pairings last fall at Chapman included Lesley Nichol (“Mrs. Patmore” on “Downton Abbey”) and “Longmire’s” Cassidy Freeman reading works by Jill McCorkle; “24’s” Xander Berkeley and “Twilight’s” Sarah Clarke performing works by David Means; and Danielle Panabaker (“Friday the 13th,” “Unnecessary Roughness”) and Robert Wisdom (“Nashville,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) performing short stories by Percival Everett and Danzy Senna.  The cast of actors for this season’s WordTheatre will be revealed shortly.

Allan Gurganus is best known for his  novel “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,” which won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and spent eight months on the New York Times bestseller list. The CBS adaptation of the work, starring Donald Sutherland and Diane Lane, won four Emmy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actress Emmy for Cicely Tyson as the freed slave Castalia. Gurganus’s  other works include his two novels “White People” (Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Pen-Faulkner Finalist) and “Plays Well With Others,” as well as two collections of novellas. Gurganus was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and is the recipient of an Ingram Merill Award.

Check for cast updates at WordTheatre.com; all casting is subject to change.


“Allan Gurganus writes without a safety net; no precautions are taken against pathos, bathos, authorial indignity. Gurganus locates the dangerous glamour in ordinariness. He can do anything he likes as a writer.” –Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“I consider Allan Gurganus the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation.” – John Cheever

ABOUT WordTheatre   wordtheatre.com
WordTheatre®: Giving Voice to Great Writing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on a mission to open up new ways of thinking about words, stories, and people through powerful and entertaining performances that bring contemporary literature to life.  The organization also creates original themed events to benefit fellow educational and charitable organizations. Full season information is available at WordTheatre.com.

ABOUT Chapman University    www.chapman.edu
Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University provides a uniquely personalized and interdisciplinary educational experience to highly qualified students. Our programs encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration, and focus on developing global citizen-leaders who are distinctively prepared to improve their community and their world. Visit us at www.chapman.edu.

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