Susan Merson, founder of New York Theatre Intensives, will present "The Artist's Voice: Writing New Plays for Today's Society" as part of Southern Utah University's Convocations Lecture Series on Tuesday, January 24, at 11:30 a.m. in the Sterling Church Auditorium.
Merson's New York Theatre Intensives program is a summer conservatory providing university students an immersive experience focused on the art of new play creation. She has maintained bi coastal residency ever since, leading the Theatre Intensives program on the East Coast while also acting and writing in Los Angeles. Merson also teaches writing in both locales, at Cal State University Fullerton and Sacred Center, NY.
Starting her career as an Off Broadway actress in New York, Merson went on to co-found the Lion Theatre Company in New York City, helping to create the existing Theatre Row complex on 42nd Street. Among her featured television and film roles are "Grey's Anatomy," "True Blood," and "Terminator 3."
Her plays — "Hair: A Reminiscence" and "Bounty of Lace" — have been seen at theatres across the U.S. and Canada. She has also written several novels, including "Dreaming in Daylight," "Reclamation," "Surviving the Loss of a Love" and "Your Name Here; An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance."
At SUU, Merson will speak to a life's work in the theatre and writing industries.
This convocation will be presented in partnership with the Sigma Tau Delta English Society.
As always, Tuesday's Convocation lecture is free and open to the general public.
Friday, January thirteenth, Southern Utah University will kick off their Convocation Lecture Series with a returning favorite. Rev. France Davis will be speaking at 11:30 a.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall of the Hunter Conference Center on the beautiful Southern Utah University campus.
One of nine children in his family, Davis was born on his family’s farm in eastern Georgia. Twenty years later, he was a U.S. Air Force mechanic. Upon release from the military, Davis enrolled as a full time student. What set him apart from most students was he was taking 15 credits, from 5 different schools, at the same time, and graduated, early, from all of them. His majors include ministry, rhetoric, religion, arts and humanities, African-American studies, and communications. In addition to being highly educated, Davis has spent a great deal of his life working towards making the world a better place. He first began his efforts marching in the civil rights movement. He had the opportunity to work with Martin Luther King Jr. and cites listening to the historic “I have a dream!” speech as “the most exhilarating and exciting experience of all of (his) lifetime”. He has worked to promote the memory of Dr. King since by serving as the chairman of the committee that not only helped name a major street after Dr. King, but also was influential in creating a federal holiday honoring King and his memory. Rev. Davis will be speaking just days before King’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day which will be a special treat for all those that are present. Not just a promoter of African-American rights, he has built housing for the low-income seniors, has sponsored education programs, and founded the Opportunity Industrialization Center, which trains individuals that are unemployed or at a dead-end job for better employment and more productive work.
Davis is currently the head pastor at the historic Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. He serves on various city and national boards and is also an instructor at the University of Utah, teaching various communication and ethnic courses. He lectures frequently and loves to speak on a wide variety of subjects. He has written several books, most significantly Light in the Midst of Zion: A History of Black Baptists in Utah. His autobiography, France Davis: An American Story Told will be available for purchase at the convocation after the lecture as well as at the SUU Bookstore both before and after.
Rev. Davis claims as his favorite quote, “Yes, I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). Though, with a degree in African-American studies, he would certainly know his heritage, and that it is good, but it could be as easily said of him that, ‘yes, he has a goodly life’ as well. From humble beginnings, through obstacles ranging from military service to battle for civil rights, and now as one of Utah’s most respected citizens, Davis has had a profound effect on those around him. Now, SUU students and the community of Cedar City will have the opportunity to join with the ranks of those who have been lifted, motivated, and entertained by this great man.