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Ruby Dee at Writers Institute

News from The NYS Writers Institute


For more information: 518-442-5620,


ALBANY, NY -- (03/31/2005; 1030)(EIS) --


Ruby Dee, pioneering African-American actress, writer, and civil rights activist, will deliver the 9th Annual Burian Lecture, and talk about her life in theater, film, and television, on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 8:00 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, on the University at Albany's downtown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University's uptown campus. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the UAlbany Department of Theatre, and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Susan Burian Endowment.

Ruby Dee is an actress, playwright, memoirist, children's book author, poet, screenwriter, television producer, and Civil Rights activist; a key member of the pioneering American Negro Theatre; the first Black actress to appear in a major role at the American Shakespeare Festival; and an important presence on the American stage, screen, and television for sixty years.

Her numerous awards include the National Board of Review's "Best Supporting Actress," for the film "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961); Obie and Drama Desk Awards in 1971 for Athol Fugard's "Boseman and Lena"; a 1974 Drama Desk Award for "The Wedding Band"; the NAACP Image Award for Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989); an Emmy Award for the TV film "Decoration Day" (1990); the Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts; and the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1988.

Dee's published works include "With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together" (1998), a memoir coauthored with husband Ossie Davis, another towering figure of the American stage and screen, who passed away in February, 2005 after a successful marriage and creative partnership of 57 years; "My One Good Nerve: Rhythms, Rhymes, Reasons" (1987), a collection of verse based on her original one-woman show of the same name; "Glowchild, and Other Poems" (1972), a collection of original poetry for young people; and two children's books based on African folktales, "Two Ways to Count to Ten" (1988), winner of the Literary Guild Award, and "Tower to Heaven" (1991).

On Broadway, she appeared in such plays as "Jeb," "Anna Lucasta," "A Raisin in the Sun," "Purlie Victorious," and "Checkmates." Recent off-Broadway stage appearances include the 2001 production of "St. Lucy's Eyes" and the 2002 production of "A Last Dance for Sybil," a play written for her by her husband.

Dee's film career began in 1950 with the release of "No Way Out" and "The Jackie Robinson Story." Other film credits include "St. Louis Blues," "A Raisin in the Sun," "The Balcony," "The Incident," "Buck and the Preacher," "Cat People," "Do the Right Thing," "Jungle Fever," "Just Cause," and "Tuesday Morning Ride." She has received Emmy nominations for her roles in "The Nurses," "Roots: The Next Generation," Gore Vidal's "Lincoln," "China Beach" and "Evening Shade." She has received two Daytime Emmy nominations for her current role as Alice the Great on Bill Cosby's animated series, "Little Bill."

Note: Prior to Ruby Dee's visit, the Writers Institute will screen the film "A Raisin in the Sun," on Friday, April 15, 2005 at 7:30 PM in Page Hall on the University's downtown campus. The screening is free and open to the public.

Dee's lecture is the ninth in a yearly event that brings leading scholars and practitioners of the art of the theatre to the Albany campus. Funded by Jarka and Grayce Susan Burian, two of the Capital District's leading theatrical educators and artists, the lecture honors Dr. Burian's long and influential service at the University at Albany as a professor in the theatre department from 1955 to 1993. Grayce Susan Burian, who received her M.A. degree from UAlbany and also taught there, is best known for her long tenure as the director of the theatre program, which she founded, at Schenectady Community College.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620, or online at

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