Film Star Bill Pullman to Keynote Theater Festival at IUP

Posted on 12/16/2009 10:07:53 AM

PullmanFilm star, stage actor, director, producer, and teacher Bill Pullman will keynote the upcoming Region 2 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival hosted by the IUP Department of Theater and Dance. Pullman’s address will be presented on Thursday, January 14, 2010, at 12:30 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium, IUP Performing Arts Center. The event is free and open to the general public and festival registrants.

Bill Pullman made his silver screen 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, and The Accidental Tourist. With his All-American nice guy looks, Pullman was, for many years, cast as a decent but ineffectual man who almost inevitably got dumped on by his significant other. This trend lasted until 1995 when Pullman starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the crowd-pleasing While You Were Sleeping.

Pullman and KidmanBorn in rural Hornell, N.Y., on December 17, 1953, Pullman was the sixth of seven children. He grew up with an interest in construction work, and, after graduating from high school, he enrolled in a technical college to pursue this interest. A random visit to a local drama club and subsequent meeting with a drama teacher convinced Pullman that he wanted to perform on the stage rather than build it. He went on to earn 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 in SpaceballsPullman then moved to New York to further his stage career. He became very 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 in Ruthless People. 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.

Pullman in Bottle ShockHis television directing credits include the anthology series, Night Visions, and the TNT movie, The Virginian (Wrangler Award/Best Picture, 2000). His theater acting work includes the Broadway world premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat (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.

Tickets, which are free, for this event will be available starting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 14, in the Performing Arts Center lobby. In addition to seating for an estimated 1,000 festival participants, up to 300 seats will be made available to the general public.

The festival will bring students and educators from college and university theater programs representing eight mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. In addition to the keynote address, five productions performed over four days in Fisher Auditorium will be open to the general public.

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 provided for the participants.

For more information about the public events, call The Lively Arts at IUP at 724-357-2547 or e-mail The Lively Arts office will be closed December 22 through January 3.