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Actor Bill Pullman to Be Keynote Speaker for Theater Festival

Bill Pullman

Film star, stage actor, director, producer, and teacher Bill Pullman will serve as the keynote presenter for the upcoming Region II Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Pullman’s address will be January 14, 2010, at 12:30 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium, IUP Performing Arts Center. The event is open and free to the community and festival registrants, but tickets are required, as space is limited.

Tickets will be available starting at 10:30 a.m. the day of the event in the Performing Arts Center lobby. Up to three hundred seats will be made available to the general public.

The festival, hosted by the Department of Theater and Dance, will be held January 12–16 and is expected to draw eight hundred to one thousand people.

The festival will bring students and educators from college and university theater programs representing eight mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. It honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.

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An IUP production, A Year with Frog and Toad, has been selected for inclusion in the festival. It is the seventh IUP production in eight years selected for the regional competition, which accepted only nine of about fifty productions entered for consideration. Region II includes more than eighty participating colleges and universities.

In addition to Pullman’s presentation, performances of five festival productions will be open to the community January 13–16 in Fisher Auditorium. A complete listing of these performances is available on the Lively Arts website.

Additional activities and events provided to the festival registrants include competitions and sessions in acting, directing, playwriting, research, and design. There will also be a variety of other productions, workshops, and social events.

Pullman made his movie debut in the Danny DeVito-Bette Midler comedy Ruthless People in 1986. He followed that with lead roles in Spaceballs, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Accidental Tourist, and While You Were Sleeping.

Born in Hornell, N.Y., on December 17, 1953, Pullman earned a B.A. in theater from the State University of New York at Oneonta. After attaining an M.F.A. degree in directing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Pullman joined a theater company and performed throughout South Dakota and Montana. He later took a job teaching drama at Montana State University, where he became chairman of the theater department.

Pullman then moved to New York City to further his stage career. He became active in regional theater and won acclaim for his work at such places as New York’s Lincoln Center and Washington, D.C.’s Folger Theatre.

In 1985, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue more theater work and, the following year, made his film debut. Following several other films, he was cast in 1992 in A League of Their Own, followed by Singles, Sleepless in Seattle, Casper, Lost Highway, and as the president in Independence Day. 

In addition to his work in front of the camera, Pullman began to work behind the scenes in 1995, when he founded his own production company, Big Town.

His television directing credits include the anthology series Night Visions and the TNT movie The Virginian, which won the Wrangler Award for Best Picture in 2000.

His theater acting work includes the Broadway world premiere of Edward Albee’s The Goat, a Drama Desk nomination, as well as productions of new plays by Beth Henley (with Holly Hunter) and Thomas Babe (with Tom Waits). He was also nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for his work in the Kennedy Center production of The Subject Was Roses. 

For more information about the Kennedy Center Festival public events and the listing of performances, call the Lively Arts at IUP at 724-357-2547, e-mail lively-arts@iup.edu, or visit the Lively Arts website.