Former New York Times drama critic Frank Rich continues to make his presence felt in the theatre community, whether by his recently-published memoir, "Ghost Light", his op-ed pieces in the Times, or his public speaking appearances. Washington D.C. audiences will get a taste of the latter when Rich gets to deliver the 14th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center, March 19.
The talk is hosted by Americans for the Arts, an advocacy groups for the importance of arts and culture in people's lives. According to organization spokesperson Devin Cogswell, Rich's lecture will focus on how the new Republican administration will impact arts and arts literacy in the U.S.
Americans for the Arts CEO Robert L. Lynch said in a statement, "Mr. Rich's lecture comes at an important time with changes in congressional leadership and committee positions that could have a major impact on the arts and arts education." Previous Nancy Hanks lecturers have included Wendy Wasserstein and poet Maya Angelou. Hanks was a former president of Americans for the Arts (then called Associated Council for the Arts) and former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Not unlike Moss Hart's influential autobiography, "Act One," Rich's "Ghost Light" ($24.95, from Random House) explores Rich's boyhood, when troubles at home — including his parents' broken marriage — made him easy prey for the excitement, color and power of the make believe of theatre. Rich, who would eventually become New York's most powerful and respected and/or loathed critic between 1980-1993, was raised in the Washington D.C. area and caught national tours of musicals and plays at the National Theatre, where he was hired as a ticket taker.
The memoir's title refers to the single light left burning on stages of darkened theatres, warding off ghosts. Random House also published "Hot Seat," a collection of annotated reviews and essays written by Rich during his Times tenure. It is now available in paperback.
Rich is married to feature writer Alex Witchel and lives in New York City.
— By — By David Lefkowitz
and Kenneth Jones