Oscar-winner to visit theater students
Kathryn Marshall | Sunday, January 26, 2014
Award-winning actress Dianne Wiest, who appeared in such movies as “Edward Scissorhands” and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” will host “An Evening with Dianne Wiest,” at 7:30 p.m. tonight in O’Laughlin Auditorium.
The Margaret M. Hill Visiting Guest Artist program made the visit possible through an endowment made by a College alumnus who is now a New York theatre producer, associate professor of theater Katie Sullivan said.
“This [endowment] is a great way to give something really tremendous to our students,” Sullivan said. “To have such a program … that in four years our students will have met with, worked with, shown their work to, had lunch with these amazing artists … to have this opportunity is almost unheard of.”
Wiest has won two Oscars and two Emmys among otherhonors and is known for her 10-year career with popular series “Law & Order” as District Attorney Nora Lewin. She also appeared in multiple theater productions and over 54 films, including “Footloose” and five Woody Allen films such as “Hannah and Her Sisters.”
“The amount of plays she’s done and the amount of movies she’s done can be split up amongst several different lifetimes,” junior Maria Welser said. “And I think the best thing ever about it is even if you don’t know her, she’s worked with some of the biggest names in theater and in movies and television.”
Wiest will partake in a three-hour class with College theater students, Sullivan said. During the class, 13 students will present six short scenes they have prepared.
“[Wiest] is really dedicated and interested in doing the very best job of coaching and guiding she can,” Sullivan said, “Usually we don’t have as many as 13 performers. She was very interested in being as inclusive as possible.”
Sullivan said an hour-long private lunch will follow the class. With no faculty present at the meal, 19 theater students will have the chance to ask questions and converse with the actress.
Sophomore Katie Corbett said the time at lunch will allow her and fellow students to peek into Wiest’s world.
“I think it’s such a rare opportunity for us to have someone who’s so acclaimed from the industry,” Corbett said. “She will be able to give advice to any Saint Mary’s woman … it’ll be an incredible opportunity.”
Sullivan said she plans to ask Wiest a series of questions regarding her childhood and career, allowing Wiest to share personal anecdotes and stories with the audience, she said.
“We’ve all been a fan of a movie or a person, and the idea of getting to hear them really talk about the experience that meant so much to us is really cool,” Sullivan said.
Following the presentation there will be a question and answer session with the audience, she said.
“I think there will be fans from various walks of life, not just theater trained people but movie goers, TV watchers, people who think ‘Wow, I have the chance to hear somebody speak as her real self when I’ve been watching her for years,’” Sullivan said.
Corbett said Wiest’s strength and independence embodies what Saint Mary’s is all about by. She said she seesWiest’s story as motivation for other women to craft an enriching career no matter where they come from.
“A lot of times when we’re hosting a woman, we’re saying to our students ‘This is possible. Dream big,’” Sullivan said. “It’s not just about showing off or saying ‘help me, help me,’ it’s really about saying ‘My gosh we have this opportunity to pick someone’s brain, who has been where you are, young and full of desire’, and learn from her. It’s a great learning experience.”
Tickets are free to students, faculty, and staff from Saint Mary’s College, University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College. Admission is $10 for general public and $5 for senior citizens. Tickets are available at the Moreau Box Office, by calling (574)-284-4626, and online at www.moreaucenter.com.