"Eyes on Zora" series focuses on the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston, January 29-31, 2016

Series includes film screening, workshops for children, and theatrical performance

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Still from film "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (2005), starring Halle Berry

ALBANY, NY (01/13/2016)(readMedia)-- The UAlbany Performing Arts Center and the NYS Writers Institute are sponsoring Eyes on Zora: The Life and Legacy of Zora Neale Hurston, a series of events focusing on the life and work of one of the most important and celebrated figures from the Harlem Renaissance. Events will include a screening of Oprah Winfrey Harpo Films adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005), and a Q&A with Darnell Martin, the film's director, and Emily Bernard, Harlem Renaissance scholar at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 29, at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, UAlbany Downtown Campus; workshops for children and families on Hurston's collected African American folktales on Saturday, January 30 at two branches of the Albany Public Library-11:00 a.m. at the Washington Avenue Branch, and 3:00 p.m. at the Howe Branch; and an American Place Theatre Performance of Zora!, a one-woman theatrical biography, at 3:00 p.m. (pre-performance discussion at 2:30 p.m.) on Sunday, January 31 in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the Uptown Campus. All events are free and open to the public except for the stage performance. Advance tickets for the performance are $15 ($20 day of) for the general public, $10 ($15 day of) for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty/staff. Box Office: (518) 442-3997; tickets@albany.edu.

A major author of twentieth-century African-American literature, Hurston is often celebrated as the "Queen of the Harlem Renaissance." Many Black authors of later generations have cited her as an influence, including Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gayle Jones, Alice Walker, and Toni Cade Bambara. Alice Walker's 1975 essay in Ms. Magazine, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston," helped to rekindle interest in Hurston's work and restored it to the American canon. Hurston was also a major collector of African American folktales and contributed enormously to Black cultural history.


January 29 (Friday): Film screening and discussion with film director Darnell Martin and literature scholar Emily Bernard - 7:00 p.m. [Note early start], Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus

Directed by Darnell Martin (United States, 2005, 113 minutes, color)

Starring Halle Berry, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Michael Ealy

Based on Zora Neale Hurston's classic novel, adapted by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films, this ABC-TV movie features Halle Berry as the free-spirited Janie, whose quest for love and a meaningful life challenges the morals of a small American town in the 1920s.

Darnell Martin was the first African American woman to write and direct a film for a major Hollywood studio- I LIKE IT LIKE THAT (1994). Her other credits include CADILLAC RECORDS (2008), starring Beyoncé Knowles.

Emily Bernard is an author, and professor and scholar of African American literature. She is the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Remember Me to Harlem (2001).


January 30 (Saturday): The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston - 11:00 a.m., Albany Public Library, Washington Avenue Branch (call 518-427-4310 for reservations); and 3:00 p.m. Albany Public Library, Howe Branch (call 518-472-9485).

The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston is an interactive theatre program developed by Young Audiences New York. A family activity, the workshop features folktales collected in Hurston's anthologies.


January 31 (Sunday): Performance - 3 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center (Pre-performance discussion, 2:30 p.m.)

Tickets: general public $15 in advance, $20 day of; students/ seniors/UA faculty & staff $10 in advance, $15 day of. Box Office: (518)442-3997; tickets@albany.edu.

A theatrical biography performed by Cheryl Howard, Zora! originally premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Adapted and directed by Wynn Handman from Laurence Holder's play, Zora! captures the extraordinary spirit of the "Queen of the Harlem Renaissance." The play is rich with folklore, intimate portraits of Hurston's contemporaries, and excerpts from her significant body of literary work.

The "Eyes on Zora" series is cosponsored by UAlbany Performing Arts Center, NYS Writers Institute, Albany Public Library, and Albany High School, with support from the University at Albany's Offices of Diversity and Inclusion, Intercultural Student Engagement, Alumni Association, Auxiliary Services, and UA Foundation.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.