February 11, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Playwright Leigh Fondakowski will give the talk, "Narrating Jonestown: Transforming History into Art," Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the continuing Griot Institute for Africana Studies series, "Jonestown Reconsidered, 35 Years Later."

Fondakowski is the author of "The Peoples Temple," which received the Glickman Award for Best New Play in the Bay area in 2005, and "I Think I Like Girls," which premiered at Encore Theater in San Francisco under her direction and was voted one of the top 10 plays of 2002 by The Advocate.

Nominated for an Emmy as co-screenwriter for HBO's "The Laramie Project," she is a co-writer of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later." She has been a member of the Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995.

She has two projects: "SPILL," a play and art installation (co-created with Reeva Wortel) about the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil disaster, and "Casa Cushman," a new play about the 19th-century American actress Charlotte Cushman. Her first work of creative non-fiction, Stories from Jonestown, will be published by the University of Minnesota Press this year.

Fondakowski is a 2007 recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, a 2009 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a 2010 Imagine Fund fellow and guest lecturer at the University of Minnesota.

The Griot Institute series examines the events in Jonestown in 1978 and how they relate to many contemporary social and geo-political dilemmas, according to Rebecca Willoughby, lecturer in English at Bucknell and interim assistant director of the Griot Institute.

The series will continue in March and April with:

March 6: "Women's Lives in the Peoples Temple," with Jordan Vilchez, a teenage member of the Peoples Temple, at 7 p.m. in Hunt Formal Living Room;

March 20: "Remembering the People of the Peoples Temple," with Tim Carter, a survivor of the massacre, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center;

April 3: "Narrating Jonestown and the Peoples Temple," with journalist Julia Scheeres, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center;

April 17: "Jonestown: Yesterday and Today," with Stephan Jones, son of Jonestown founder Jim Jones, at 7 p.m. in Hunt Formal Living Room.

Contact: Division of Communications