The Department of Theater celebrates the new Ed Golden Scholarship
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
It’s been years since he trod the boards at UMass Amherst, but Jeffrey Donovan, star of Burn Notice and RFK in Rob Reiner’s upcoming LBJ, still credits his UMass Department of Theater mentor, professor Ed Golden, for his successes.
“When I’m good it’s because I listened to Ed, and when I’m not it’s because I didn’t,” he said.
He spoke those words during a pre-show talk on Friday evening in the department’s Rand Theater, where he shared the stage with fellow alumnus Rob Corddry to talk about acting, their careers, and how their UMass mentor shaped their work.
The two were in town, together with dancer and fellow alumna Tamara Hurwitz Pullman (representing herself and her husband, fellow alumnus Bill Pullman) to announce the creation of the new Ed Golden Acting Scholarship, which was awarded to two UMass Theater students earlier that afternoon.
The honorees were Lily Filippatos and Jordan Reed, two students who have appeared in numerous roles in the department, including joint appearances in 2014’s A New Brain and last season’s Collidescope 2.0: Adventures in Pre and Post-Racial America.
Although the Pullmans did not overlap with Donovan and Corddry, they all shared Golden as a mentor. Years after graduation, all are still in touch with Golden and have even continued to seek his advice about roles. The scholarship on which they have collaborated was a way to honor Golden and at the same time establish the department’s first scholarship recognizing talented performance students.
“People out there don’t really realize what an important field of discourse and study (the arts) are,” said Hurwitz Pullman, explaining that the four benefactors saw the scholarship as a “nod” to encourage these young performers.
Donovan missed the ceremony due to a plane delay and Pullman was unable to leave the pilot he was shooting, so Corddry and Hurwitz Pullman did the honors, awarding the two women, who did not know they were receiving the scholarships, their awards.
The ceremony was a warm and emotional event, as Corddry and Hurwitz Pullman delivered encomiums to Golden, who was in the audience.
“I thought the department was so warm and welcoming, and Ed was a big part of that,” said Hurwitz Pullman. She majored in dance but took many theater classes and acted in many plays Golden directed — including one in which he cast her to play the wife to Bill Pullman’s character. (They've been a couple pretty much ever since.)
She recalled that he would say, “have a good show, and remember, no acting,” meaning that the actors should strive to be in the moment.
Corddry recalled the day Golden told him he could make a career of acting.
“This is my guru… and he had just given me his blessing, he had just given me permission, and most of all, what he gave me was confidence, because Ed Golden said I could do it!”
Golden thanked the group, saying “I was floored, humbled, and grateful beyond description,” upon learning of the scholarship established in his name.
After the ceremony, the department hosted a reception which drew students as well as alumni, many of them classmates of the benefactors.
Audiences of that evening’s department season opener, The Misanthrope, got the chance to hear Corddry and Donovan, whose plane had meanwhile arrived. They agreed that Golden had simplified and demystified the acting process. Corddry revealed that he decided to become a major after seeing Donovan in Golden’s award-winning production of Playboy of the Western World.
He also told a story of a time he was in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with another group on campus and he convinced Health Services to put a real cast on his leg so he could play Brick. He thought it was a good idea until Golden said, “Why don’t you just try acting?”
As the audience laughed, Donovan chimed in, “See, that’s an example of when you didn’t listen to Ed!”
We filmed much of the festivities of the weekend, and graduate student Christina Pellegrini edited the footage into a short video.