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Richard Dresser Presents Kershaw Lecture at Mount Union College

November 16, 2006

Richard Dresser, New York-based playwright, screenwriter, television producer and author is inspired by the escalating pressure in our culture. Dresser presented this year's Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lectureship in the College's Presser Recital Hall on Thursday, November 16.

'I knew I wanted to write, I just didn't know what,' said Dresser. He ended up in Western Massachusetts working in the radio business being an investigative journalist. He was forced to choose between either an advertising or a theatre course while obtaining his masters from Chapel Hill, N.C. He decided to take a playwriting course that was taught by Tom Patterson, a soon to be retired professor who told Dresser "I can't tell you anything about writing plays, I can only wave my hands in the air when you get too far from shore."

After writing his first play he left the world of broadcast journalism behind.

Dresser talked about surviving as a playwright, and his inspirations for his plays. He said that, 'Every person in New York has one thing on their mind, how do you make a living?' He had a long list of dead end jobs ranging from working in factories to being a security guard.

'I realized that all those jobs I thought were a dead end, were simply wonderful,' said Dresser. He writes about how human beings should behave in certain situations and feels that since he held so many jobs he has a greater perspective on a wider range of circumstances. 'There is such an escalating pressure in our culture towards kids, because everything is about tests and achievements. I write about things that disturb me.' He tries to confront these ideas and situations in his plays.

In addition to talking about how he became a playwright along with his many other professions in the arts and theatre, he talked about numerous plays that he has written and their specific inspiration behind it. He gave advice to the audience about surviving in a profession that you care deeply about.

'The only thing I can tell you is, stick with it everyday,' said Dresser. 'I tried to take shortcuts, and they didn't get me anywhere. By doing something on a regular basis you form a strict discipline.'
Following the Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lecture the Mount Union Department of Theatre performed Dresser's own, Wonderful World.

'I'm very excited that they chose this play. I haven't seen it be performed in several years. 'I've had the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Douglas Hendel, director of the play and I think he has a very good take on it,' he added.

The Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lectureship on Poetry and the Fine Arts was established in 1960 by a bequest from Myrtie Allen Kershaw of Kent, Ohio, who indicated in her will that such a fund should go to a college chosen by her friend and executrix of her estate, Elizabeth Clark Bell. Because of Mrs. Bell's personal interest in Mount Union College, where she was a student in 1932-33 and where her uncle, Robert E. Stauffer, was a teacher and librarian for many years, she designated Mount Union to receive the fund. The income is used to bring periodically to the College a person of distinction, for one or more lectures on ancient or modern poetry, the fine arts, music or for an original performance in one of these fields.

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