Kyle Bass is the Next Speaker in the Mudd Center’s CareLab Event Series The playwright will host a screening of his play “Citizen James” and a playwriting workshop Feb. 14-15.
Washington and Lee University welcomes playwright Colgate University professor Kyle Bass to campus as the 2022-2023 Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment recipient. Bass will deliver a talk as part of the Mudd Center for Ethics’ series on “Beneficence: Practicing and Ethics of Care” with an interactive CareLab event on Feb. 14, as well as host a playwriting workshop on Feb. 15.
The CareLab event will feature a screening of Bass’s play “Citizen James” followed by his talk on Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater. The event is open to the public and presented in partnership with the W&L Department of Theater, Dance, and Film Studies and the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.
“Citizen James” is a one-person show about James Baldwin and his prophetic voice during the Civil Rights era and beyond. The play was commissioned by Syracuse Stage and streamed in 2021 and toured in 2022. In the play, Bass explores the ethos of care across lines of division and caring for people “we disagree with or have been harmed by.” His talk, “Conflict & Care: A Dramaturgy of Harm and Hope,” will build upon the play’s message and highlight how we care for institutions by telling honest histories and stories about them.
“James Baldwin cared deeply about the effects of hate upon the hater. His critical beneficence, his care for his white oppressor, who he was so deeply critical of, is at the center of his humanity, understanding, and insight, and his demand and hope for a more caring American society for us all,” said Bass. “In my dramatic writing concerned with racial histories and historical figures, it is through a dramaturgy of ‘conflict and care’ that I hope to arrive at the profound truths and possibilities of the human heart.”
Bass will also host a playwriting workshop on Feb. 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Johnson Theatre at the Lenfest Center. During the workshop, he will lead students through several playwriting exercises.
“In much of my playwriting, I’ve taken local historical persons and events and have braided fact with dramatic fiction, attempting to arrive at deep truths that resonate with contemporary audiences,” said Bass.
The workshop is an excellent opportunity for students to learn the craft from an accomplished playwright; Bass is a three-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize. After five seasons as the associate artistic director at Syracuse Stage, Bass was recently announced as the theater’s first-ever resident playwright.
Bass is an assistant professor of theater at Colgate University, where he previously served as the Burke Endowed Chair for regional studies. Prior to Colgate, Bass was on the faculty for the MFA program in creative writing at Goddard College and taught playwriting at Syracuse University and Hobart & William Smith Colleges. He earned his bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing from the State University of New York at Fredonia and an MFA in playwriting from Goddard College.
In addition to “Citizen James,” Bass is the author of the play “Possessing Harriet,” commissioned by the Onondaga Historical Association, “salt/city/blues,” the libretto for “Libba Cotton: Here This Day” commissioned by The Society for New Music, and “Tender Rain,” which will premiere during Syracuse Stage’s 2022-2023 season.
The Mudd Center’s CareLab events are designed to personalize our exploration of beneficence. If we aspire to practice an ethics of care, how can we learn to manifest this value in our thoughts and actions?
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Mudd Center’s webpage.