Since Stony Brook abruptly ended their short-lived sustainability program at Southampton in 2010, the local campus has been a mystery to many people. The question comes up in lots of different places: “What’s going on over there?”
Turns out, quite a bit. In fact, there’s a good chance that a course or presentation of interest to you is happening there. For example, are you an aspiring author who wants to learn about writing books for children or young adults? Well, there’s a Children’s Literature Fellowship program housed on the campus. It’s an advanced certificate program—anyone with a bachelor’s degree (with a decent GPA) can apply. Or perhaps you’re more interested in listening to what writers have to say. Check out the Writers Speak series, which features a roster of fascinating writers in a live interview format.
Naturally, Southampton’s flagship MFA in Creative Writing is continuing under the benevolent oversight of Robert Reeves. And, of course, this summer will feature the return of the annual Southampton Writers Conference, bringing a line-up of A-list writers and featuring a lively offering of public readings, book signings, and live interviews. This year’s faculty will include Billy Collins, Matthew Klam, Grace Schulman, and Patricia McCormick, among others. We who are untroubled by literary aspirations might just like to attend the public events, but if you’ve got a novel inside you that needs to get out, you should seize the day and apply to attend the conference. There aren’t many opportunities like it, and it’s right here.
Lest you get the idea that Stony Brook Southampton is all about the scribblers, you should be aware that there is also an MFA program in theater at the campus. With an esteemed faculty in residence, including Stephen Hamilton and Jon Robin Baitz, the theater program takes advantage of the famous theater professionals who have homes in the Hamptons. Thus, students have a chance to work with actors like Alec Baldwin and Mercedes Ruehl, or rub shoulders with playwrights like Terence McNally or directors like Tony Walton.
For the summer, the campus will present sessions for actors through the auspices of the International Michael Chekhov Association. An acting workshop session and a session of study with a renowned actor (TBA) are in the works. Playwriting and directing sessions will be offered in conjunction with the Writers Conference.
Among the new offerings this coming summer at the college is a film program with a catchy name: 20/20/20. The big news is that 20 students will receive full scholarships to attend this 20-day workshop, producing 20 short films. Admitted students will only have to cover their transportation costs to Southampton, and Stony Brook will take care of the rest, including food. Pretty great deal!
The film program is being headed up by Christine Vachon of Killer Films, while resident faculty including Mitchell Kriegman and Simone Pero will work closely with students. Guest artists including Alan Alda and Jules Feiffer will provide master classes. The program is geared toward college-age students interested in film, and it’s designed to take advantage of the acting talents of students in the summer theater program. If you’re not a frustrated film director yourself, chances are you know a young person who is handy with a camera or has filmmaking aspirations. Why not let them know about this great opportunity?
Not to be overlooked is the new Almost Beachfront Digital Print Studio, Stony Brook Southampton’s bid to become a regional center for printmaking. Envisioned as a professional and educational tool not only for the university but also for local high school art classes, the studio, directed by Scott Sandell, recently hosted Pierson High School (Sag Harbor) for a three-day printmaking workshop. Students were able to employ the state-of-the-art resources of the Almost Beachfront Print Studio for their own projects, thus realizing artworks that they couldn’t achieve elsewhere.
With this studio, and with Stony Brook Southampton’s many other programs, the campus is serving the dual purpose of bringing top-notch training to emerging artists in the fields of writing, theater, and film, while also bringing enriching programs and cultural offerings to the East End.
Keep it coming, Stony Brook Southampton!