Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Top Local Actor Honored as Lunt-Fontanne Fellow at Alliance Theatre

The Alliance Theatre is pleased to announce that local actor Donald Griffin has been selected as an inaugural Lunt Fontanne Fellow by Ten Chimneys Foundation, the National Historic Landmark estate of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The fellowship is a groundbreaking national program created to serve regional theatre actors and enhance the future of American theatre. Griffin will receive a cash fellowship and will participate in an intensive week-long master class and retreat at Ten Chimneys with world-renowned and acclaimed actress Lynn Redgrave as the first master teacher in the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program.

The Alliance Theatre was invited by Ten Chimneys to nominate multiple actors in Atlanta for consideration to be chosen as a Fellow. Selection criteria for the program include having 20-plus years of experience as a professional actor; being widely considered among the top actors in their community; and being widely respected by audiences, directors and fellow actors for their talent, dedication to craft, attention to detail and passionate pursuit of excellence.

Regarding the nomination and selection of Griffin, Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth said, “A versatile actor, storyteller and beacon of Atlanta’s theatrical community, Don Griffin is simply a treasure. He is an engaging actor with an ever-increasing ability to create contradictory, nuanced and deeply felt characters. What’s more, Griffin possesses an exceptional quality, the common touch. Don Griffin is a natural, poetic and consummate actor at the apex of his craft, a historian of Atlanta theatre, and a precious gem of this community.”

In addition to the Alliance, ten other prestigious regional theatres in the country were invited to nominate multiple actors for consideration to be named Lunt-Fontanne Fellows. With the guidance of a National Advisory Council, Ten Chimneys Foundation selected the “best of the best” from these nominees to be the inaugural Lunt-Fontanne Fellows. Other actors selected include: Suzanne Bouchard, Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle); Dan Donohue, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland); Lee Ernst, Milwaukee Repertory Theater (Milwaukee); Mary Beth Fisher, Goodman Theatre (Chicago); Jon Gentry, Arizona Theatre Company (Phoenix and Tucson); Francis Guinan, Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago); Naomi Jacobson, Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.); Kim Staunton, Denver Center Theatre Company (Denver); Todd Waite, Alley Theatre (Houston); and Jack Willis, American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco).

Ten Chimneys is the home and retreat of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, widely considered the greatest acting couple in American theatre history. (The estate is fully restored to its original glory. With all of its contents and personal mementos in place, it looks just as it did in the 1930s and 40s, when friends like Helen Hayes, Noël Coward, Katherine Hepburn and countless others visited the Lunts summer after summer.) For much of the 20th century, Ten Chimneys was the center of the theatrical universe – an important place for the luckiest of artists to retreat, rejuvenate and collaborate. The Lunts were known for their dedication to the next generation of actors. They reveled in mentoring young actors. Legends such as Laurence Olivier, Uta Hagen, Montgomery Clift and Julie Harris proudly considered themselves protégés of the Lunts. The Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program continues that tradition of mentorship as Ten Chimneys reassumes its historic role as a powerful resource and inspiration for American theatre.
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