David Sedaris, Laura Bush to Headline 2010 Arts & Letters Live Series

The Dallas Museum of Art announced the 2010 season of Arts & Letters Live, the Museum’s literary and performing arts series that this year is celebrating its 19th season. With approximately 30 scheduled events featuring 50 authors, 20 actors, 7 musicians, and 2 dancers, some of this season’s highlights will include appearances by Mrs. Laura W. Bush, David Sedaris and Ira Glass.

Widely acknowledged as a major contribution to Dallas’s cultural life, Arts & Letters Live has sold out most of its events since its inception in 1992. Audiences estimated at over 172,000 have attended more than 330 series programs, offered locally or on tour. To date, Arts & Letters Live has showcased more than 350 regional, national and international writers, often in combination with performing or visual arts.

“We’re thrilled about the diversity and caliber of this year’s lineup, which showcases acclaimed and award-winning authors from as close to home as Texas and as far away as Britain, Ireland and Australia,” said Carolyn Bess, Director of Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art. “I’m particularly excited about the performance Vocal Colors: A Vibrant Collage of Arts on Stage in February that is inspired by the exhibitions All the World’s a Stage and Performance/Art. It will weave together song, visual art and poetry and involve five nationally renowned musicians as well as Dallas-area actors and dancers. We kick off the 2010 series on Friday, January 15, with Literary Death Match, hosted by Opium magazine—it’s an innovative format that marries the literary and performative aspects of Def Poetry Jam, the sharp-witted quips of American Idol (without the meanness) and the hilarity of Double Dare. Four authors (from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston) will compete in a Texas-style smackdown by reading their most electric writing in eight minutes or less in front of three celebrity judges. Two finalists compete in an absurdly comic finale to determine who takes home the crown.”

From January to June 2010, Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art will feature award-winning and best-selling authors David Sedaris, David Wroblewski, Mary Oliver, Gary Paulsen, Lisa See, Jan Brett, Sarah Dunant, Jeff Kinney, Peter Carey, Colm Tóibín, Isabel Allende, Annette Gordon-Reed, Ira Glass, The Former First Lady and an Honorary Ambassador for the U.N. Decade of Literacy Mrs. Laura W. Bush, and many more. Book signings following each of the author events are held at the Museum Store, which stocks titles by each author featured in the series.

Actors and authors in the 2010 season have won the following: two Booker Prizes (Peter Carey won twice; Tóibín has been shortlisted twice), one International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Colm Tóibín), three Pulitzer Prizes (Mary Oliver for poetry; Annette Gordon-Reed and Tracy Kidder for nonfiction),  three National Book Awards (Oliver, Kidder, and Gordon-Reed) and many finalists (Joshua Ferris, Adam Haslett, Madison Smartt Bell, Jacqueline Woodson), six Newbery Honor Awards (three for Woodson and three for Gary Paulsen), one Coretta Scott King Award (Jacqueline Woodson), one Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement (Jacqueline Woodson), one Oprah’s Book Club selection (David Wroblewski), two Tony Awards (Harriet Harris and Julie White), three Emmy Awards (Ira Glass), and countless New York Times Best Seller designations (David Sedaris, David Wroblewski, Isabel Allende, Sarah Dunant, Lisa See, Robert Kurson, Jeff Kinney, Jan Brett and Elizabeth Kostova, whose book The Historian was itself a publishing phenomenon and is the only debut novel ever to have entered the Best Seller List at #1).

One of the most innovative programs, called “Texas Bound” (Texas actors reading short fiction by Texas writers), plays to packed houses and has toured to other cities in Texas, including Austin, Houston, Fort Worth and Tyler. Well-known actors participating in Texas Bound have included Tommy Lee Jones, Kathy Bates, Larry Hagman, Marcia Gay Harden, Judith Ivey and Doris Roberts. The series has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Southern Living, and other national publications. Five broadcasts on public radio, three on the Internet, three books and four audio publications have greatly extended the series’ reach. And since 2008 Arts & Letters Live has partnered to re-broadcast current and prior Texas Bound programs through Reading & Radio Resource, a closed radio network serving people in North Texas with visual impairments and learning differences; these re-broadcasts serve an estimated 20,000 people annually.

Texas Bound actors this year will include G. W. Bailey, Brad Leland, Lydia Mackay, Isaiah Sheffer, Thomas Gibson, Sonia Manzano, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, James Crawford, Raphael Parry, Sally Nystuen Vahle, Matthew Gray, Matthew Stephen Tompkins, Harriet Harris, Lee Trull, and a few still to be announced. For the first Texas Bound event on February 22, twenty-five visual arts students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts are creating new works of art inspired by the featured stories. Texas Bound programs this year will take place at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the Arts District, the new home for the Dallas Theater Center, and many members of the DTC’s Resident Acting Company will be showcased in Texas Bound programs.

Additionally, Arts & Letters Live has created BooksmART, a literary series featuring award-winning authors and illustrators for the young and young-at-heart. Over the past few years, the series has hosted numerous Caldecott and Newbery Medal–winning authors and illustrators, such as E. L. Konigsburg, Christopher Paul Curtis, Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, Robert Sabuda, Judy Schachner, and Chris Van Allsburg. In 2010, BooksmART authors and illustrators include Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Newbery Honor Medal–winning authors Jacqueline Woodson and Gary Paulsen, and author-illustrator Jan Brett, whose books enchant readers of all ages.

Tickets go on sale at 1 a.m. Monday, December 14, 2009. Order online at www.tickets.DallasMuseumofArt.org or call during normal business hours at 214-922-1818. Prices for BooksmART (children’s and young adult) events range from $10 to $16, regular events range from $15 to $37, and special events (Sedaris and Glass) range from $25 to $65. Discounts are available for members and season subscribers. This year, the more events patrons purchase tickets for, the more money they can save. For details visit DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Information from Dallas Museum of Art press release.

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