Playwright, author and screenwriter Tom DeTitta has been named the 2014 Artist-in-Residence for Fairmont State University. With a specialty in historical drama, he has written two plays with content closely connected to this area, “Monongah,” which is about an immigrant family affected by the 1907 mine disaster, and “Street of Gold,” which is about a coal mining family in Western Pennsylvania.
DeTitta’s residency on campus begins Monday, Jan. 27. During his time on campus this semester, he will teach a playwriting class and will speak with students in the Honors Program and Folklore Studies.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on campus, DeTitta will offer a public presentation on his career, the playwriting process and the historical plays he has written. Students from the Department of Theatre will give a reading of part of DeTitta’s play, “Monongah.” Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free and open to the public.
DeTitta, who resides in Americus, Ga., has written and had produced more than 10 plays throughout the U.S. He won the North Carolina Arts Council Playwrights Fellowship in 1998. His play, “Reach of Song,” was named State Historic Drama by the Georgia Legislature.
Since 1992, he has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times; The Atlanta Journal/Constitution; Duke Magazine; The Raleigh News and Observer; and the Phnom Penh Post. He is the author of the book, “I Think I’ll Drop You Off in Deadwood,” and has worked personally with President Jimmy Carter on a play about his life.
DeTitta earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Duke University in 1982 and a Master of Arts degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in 2003. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Authors Guild and the National Eagle Scout Association.
From 1986 to 1987, DeTitta was the editor for North Georgia News, one of the largest circulation weekly newspapers in North Georgia. In 1987, he founded The Reach of Song Drama/ Appalachian Educational Society and served as its artistic director until 1995.
In 1993, DeTitta founded World Communities Theatre and currently serves as director of that international theater company with associates from around the world. The company creates plays from significant historic events. Through university residencies, he works across the curriculum to provide opportunities in theater for students and faculty from a variety of disciplines. He developed the idea of Human Rights Theater, through which both the process and the product of theater is meant to illuminate and to heal.
DeTitta was founder and director of World Communities at the Center for Community Based Theater at Georgia Southwestern Stat University from 1996 to 2004. During this residency, he wrote five plays, including “Transcendence: The Jimmy Carter Story,” in consultation with President Carter, and “Darkness Lifting,” in celebration of Habitat for Humanity’s 25th Anniversary. He developed symposiums, study abroad opportunities and brought in noted international artists. He created a permanent oral history collection surrounding the civil rights conflicts that helped to define President Carter. He also served as a part-time professor in the English and Fine Arts departments.
The Artist-in-Residence Program at FSU is designed to enhance the academic and curricular arts programs of the University, provide the opportunity for faculty development and growth and provide a valuable intellectual and cultural resource for the community. The program is made possible by an annual stipend from the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc.
Successful residency programs have been provided in recent years by British musician Emma Peake; stage director Jeffrey Ingman; poet Maggie Anderson; sculptor Wayne Trapp; the late local jazz legend Johnnie Johnson; British actor Roger Jerome; freelance artist Patricia Musick; opera singers Maryanne Talese and Stephen Lusmann; portrait artist Elizabeth McLain; writers Jaimy Gordon and Meredith Sue Willis; pianist Nada Loutfi; landscape painter Ann Templeton; singer-songwriter Larry Groce; professional dulcimer player Stephen Seifert; Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova; and animator and cartoonist Gary Leib. Residencies have included mentoring of FSU students, well-received performances and exhibitions for the college and community and workshops for public school students and teachers.
For more information about Tom DeTitta, visit http://tomdetitta.com.