Stars of "Downton Abbey" and "Longmire" Kick Off New WordTheatre Series at Chapman University

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Chapman launches series of celebrities reading short stories by renowned authors with a free event on September 16; ticketed events follow on October 14 and November 4.

Lesley Nichol

Lesley Nichol, one of the stars of "Downton Abbey," will read works by author Jill McCorkle at Chapman University's WordTheatre event on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.

We are launching what we hope will be a long and distinguished series at Chapman, that will bring the best writers and actors in the world to Orange County. - Cedering Fox, WordTheatre Artistic Director

WordTheatre®’s fall series at Chapman University brings America’s finest short story writers to Orange for celebrity and student performances. On Monday, September 16, actors Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore on "Downton Abbey") and Cassidy Freeman ("Longmire," "Smallville") will read stories by North Carolina-based writer Jill McCorkle, who will be present in a special free event introducing the series. Chapman University President James L. Doti will be on hand to welcome attendees.

In the two ticketed events following, author David Means will join us from New York on Monday, October 14, and writers Percival Everett and Danzy Senna will wrap up the series on November 4. Each evening, a selection of film and television celebrities, as well as one of Chapman’s theatre students and the author themselves, will perform the featured authors’ stories, followed by a Q&A with the artists and signings. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. in the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, Calif. 92866.

  • September 16 (free event): Chapman University President James L. Doti introduces the series. Performances from:

o    Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore on "Downton Abbey")
o    Cassidy Freeman ("Longmire," "Smallville")
o    Jill McCorkle (writer) – Author of five novels and four short story collections, five of which have been named New York Times notable books, McCorkle has seen her stories collected in the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and New Stories from the South. Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The New York Times Book Review and Allure, to name a few. She chaired Harvard University’s Creative Writing program for five years and currently teaches at North Carolina State University.

  •     October 14 (ticketed event):

o    David Means – Winner of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, Means is a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner. Means’s stories have made several appearances in The New Yorker and the O. Henry Prize collections, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories and numerous anthologies.

  •     November 4 (ticketed event):

o    Percival Everett has penned 25 works of fiction, including "Erasure," for which he won a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. He is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, New American Writing Award and The Believer Book Award, among several others. His stories have appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthologies and Best American Short Stories.
o    Danzy Senna is the author of the nationally bestselling novel "Caucasia". Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award, it was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year and has been translated into eight languages. She is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award.

WordTheatre®’s Artistic Director, Cedering Fox, selects the stories, casts esteemed film and television actors and directs the performances. Each event will feature one Chapman theatre student. WordTheatre performs in Los Angeles, New York and London, and Ms. Fox is careful to find the perfect voice for each story. Past actor/author pairings include Board Member James Franco reading Jim Shepard, Honorary Board Member Amanda Seyfried reading Dylan Landis, Julianna Margulies reading Amy Hempel, Jeff Goldblum reading TC Boyle, Marcia Gay Harden reading Pamela Painter, David Strathairn reading Russell Banks, Damian Lewis reading Anthony Doerr, Amy Brenneman reading Jane Smiley and many more.

WordTheatre® has partnered with Chapman University’s English Department and with distinguished author/professor Richard Bausch to bring these world-class writers and actors to Orange. Fox is delighted. “I have been a fan of Richard Bausch’s short stories for 20 years. I finally had the pleasure of meeting Richard when we featured his work in WordTheatre’s New York series last year. He loved hearing the way the actors breathed life into the stories and was deeply moved. It is an emotional experience to be in the audience. When Richard emailed me to say he was relocating to Chapman, I immediately booked him for our Los Angeles series. That night, the idea of bringing WordTheatre to Chapman was born. We are launching what we hope will be a long and distinguished series at Chapman, that will bring the best writers and actors in the world to Orange County.”

Admission to the September 16 introductory event is free and open to the public. The two subsequent performances, on October 14 and November 4, are free for students with ID, $18 for the general public. Tickets for the October 14 and November 4 shows will be available at http://www.chapman.edu/wordtheatre. Check for cast updates at http://www.WordTheatre.com; casting is subject to change.

ABOUT WordTheatre (http://www.wordtheatre.com)

WordTheatre®: Giving Voice to Great Writing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on a mission to open up new ways of thinking about words, stories, and people through powerful and entertaining performances that bring contemporary literature to life. The organization also creates original themed events to benefit fellow educational and charitable organizations. Full season information is available at WordTheatre.com.

ABOUT Chapman University (http://www.chapman.edu)

Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University attracts highly qualified students from around the globe. Its programs are designed to encourage leadership in innovation, creativity and collaboration, and are increasingly recognized for providing an extraordinary educational experience. The university now excels in film and media arts, performing arts, educational studies, economics and business, law, humanities and the sciences. Student enrollment in graduate and undergraduate programs is approaching 7,000, and Chapman University alumni are found throughout California and the world.

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