Plenaries


Plenary Sessions, Saturday April 2

Representations of Eugene O’Neill:
Fiction, Autobiography, and Adaptation


A Round-Table Discussion with Tony Kushner
Sponsored by the Eugene O’Neill Society

The life and dramas of Eugene O’Neill have been thoroughly intertwined, creating a complex image of the playwright in the popular imagination. Panelists in this discussion will consider how this image has been created through intermingled and evolving portraits in letters, theatre reviews, biography, fiction, film, opera, and adaptions of O’Neill’s own plays. The session will conclude with 25 minutes of open discussion with the audience.

In Honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death

The Comparative Drama Conference Presents

Early Modern to
Postmodern Shakespeares:

Three Approaches to the Staging of Romeo and Juliet

Directors Matthew Davies (Mary Baldwin College), Baron Kelly (University of Louisville), and Doreen Bechtol (Mary Baldwin College) will demonstrate three different approaches to staging the meeting of Romeo and Juliet: Cue Scripts; Meisner/Laban; and Viewpoints.


Key Note Address



Each year at the CDC, a major scholar in drama and/or theatre addresses the conference on a topic of general interest. Each keynote speech is followed by discussion with the audience and a reception.

The Comparative Drama Conference welcomed Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist David Lindsay-Abaire as our Keynote Speaker in 2015. David's play Rabbit Hole received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and five Tony nominations. His most recent play Good People was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, The Horton Foote Prize, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony nominations. David also wrote the book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical, which was nominated for eight Tonys, four Oliviers, a Grammy, and earned David the Ed Kleban Award as America's most promising musical theatre lyricist. David's other plays include Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, Wonder of the World and A Devil Inside. In addition to his work in theatre, David's screen credits include his film adaptation of Rabbit Hole (starring Nicole Kidman - Oscar Nomination), Oz the Great and Powerful, Inkheart, Robots, and MGM's upcoming Poltergeist reboot.

View an excerpt of the 2015 Keynote Event with David Lindsay-Abaire below.




The Comparative Drama Conference welcomed award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang as our Keynote Speaker in 2014. Few writers have turned issues around ethnicity and identity into a widely acclaimed and award-winning career like David Henry Hwang. The Chinese American playwright, described by the New York Times as "a true original" and by TIME magazine as "the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller," is best known as the author of M. Butterfly, which won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award, and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Other plays from his 30 year career include Golden Child (Obie Award, three Tony nominations), Yellow Face (Obie Award, Pulitzer finalist), FOB (Obie Award), and Chinglish (Drama Desk Nomination, named Best New American Play by TIME magazine). Currently, Hwang is the Residency One Playwright at the Signature Theatre in New York City. His new play, Kung Fu, premiered in February 2014, and has been granted an extended run due to enthusiastic reviews.

View an excerpt of the 2014 Keynote Event with David Henry Hwang below.




The Comparative Drama Conference welcomed Edward Albee, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes and four Tony Awards, including a Tony for Lifetime Achievement, as our Keynote Speaker in 2013. Albee is an inspiring innovator and advocate of drama who has been hailed by The New Yorker as "America's greatest living playwright.” His challenging plays have radically influenced the contemporary stage. As Paula Vogel stated in her 2012 Keynote to the CDC, “Of course American Theatre is Albee.”


The 2012 Keynote Event was A Conversation with Paula Vogel, a Q & A session with award-winning playwright and educator Paula Vogel. In addition to the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive earned her second OBIE, the Lortel Prize, and the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and New York Drama Critics’ Awards for Best Play. A few of the internationally acclaimed playwright’s other well-known plays include The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Desdemona, and The Long Christmas Ride Home. As an educator, Vogel is renowned, with students who have won the Pulitzer, MacArthurs, and OBIEs.

View an excerpt of the 2012 Keynote Event with Paula Vogel below.

Past keynote speakers have included Marvin Carlson (“Speaking in Tongues: Multiple Languages on the Modern Stage”); Helene P. Foley (“Greek Tragedy for the New Millennium: A Case Study”); Biodun Jeyifo (“Drama and the Formation of Postcolonial Studies”); Stanley E. Gontarski (“Staging Beckett for a New Century”); Jorge Huerta (“Chicano Theatre in a Society in Crisis”); and Lizbeth Goodman (“Reframing the lens on stage and screen: Old and new approaches to mediated theatres, from Shakespeare on BBC2 to Performances in Second Life”).

Author Meets Critic

Each year one of the authors whose recent book is reviewed in Text & Presentation, The Comparative Drama Conference Series (the annual publication of the CDC), is selected to discuss his or her book with the T&P reviewer and one other commentator as well as with the audience. We have discussed books on tragedy and comedy, stage props, Roman comedy, performance studies, the plays of August Wilson, the musical Oklahoma! (with songs), and Irish theatre, among others.

Round Table

Each year the CDC hosts a roundtable discussion, comprising several panelists who address a topic of general interest to teachers and scholars of theatre and drama. The audience also participates in the discussion. (Sometimes another special event is substituted for the roundtable.)

In 2015, the CDC hosted Visions of Tragedy in American Theatre, organized by the Arthur Miller Society, a discussion among representatives from a consortium of American dramatist societies (Albee, Glaspell, Mamet, Miller, O'Neill, Wilder, Williams, and Wilson), designed to elucidate each American dramatist's vision of tragedy. In 2013, Christopher Innes and Brigitte Bogar presented Shaw's Pygmalion at 100 / Lerner & Lowe's My Fair Lady at 57 - Carving Identity in Words and Music, a roundtable discussion exploring how the ‘musicality’ of Shaw's dialogue – a reflection of his own love of music – blended with the music and lyrics Lerner and Lowe created. In 2012, our Theater Critics Roundtable Discussion explored the role of journalistic criticism within contemporary culture and included some of the most respected newspaper theater critics of our time: Nelson Pressley (Washington Post), Wendy Rosenfield (Philadelphia Inquirer), and J. (Judy) Wynn Rousuck (former longtime critic at The Baltimore Sun, now Baltimore’s NPR affiliate, WYPR). Topics in the last several years have included The Future of Dramatic Literature in the Academy and Thirty Years of Crimes of the Heart: A Conversation with Beth Henley.