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UK Sondheim Lecture Discusses Works on November 25-27th

Stephen Sondheim: Collaborator and Auteur, a lecture on the works of the foremost living composer/lyricist in musical theatre, will take place in the Drama Department at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, South London from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th, November 2005. Academic papers will be presented on Friday and Sunday and panel discussions, masterclasses and keynote talks by distinguished musical theatre practitioners will be programmed for Saturday.

In celebration of Sondheim's seventy-fifth year, the conference aims to bring together literary and theatre scholars, musicologists, sociologists, musical theatre practitioners and critics for the first major interdisciplinary conference in the UK devoted to his oeuvre (Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, Bounce). Sondheim's paradoxical status as both collaborator and auteur will provide the starting point for an exploration of his brilliant integration of music and lyrics with libretto, choreography and the various elements of staging and scenography to create a corpus of masterpieces unrivalled in twentieth-century musical theatre.

"Acknowledged by critics and scholars as the most important composer and lyricist since the 1960s," states a press article, "Sondheim is the only major contemporary writer of musical theatre to have been regarded as an auteur. It is surprising that since A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
(1962) – the first show for which he wrote both music and lyrics – an artist equally renowned for both these skills has invariably relied on the contribution of another writer to produce the libretto. Paradoxically, although he has regularly expressed his enthusiasm for the process of collaboration that is crucial in creating musical theatre, his work as composer-lyricist has always been more highly regarded than that of his librettists, and the shows for which he has contributed both music and lyrics are treated by critics and public alike as 'Sondheim musicals.'"

The proceedings will be video-taped and and the aim is for selected papers to be edited for publication as a book. In celebration of Sondheim's birthday, the events on Saturday will be open to the general public, theatre professionals and special interest groups.

A call for papers will go out in early June. Before that date any suggestions for panels and special events can be emailed to the Conference Organiser, Robert Gordon, at

The full conference fee for Stephen Sondheim: Collaborator and Auteur is £100, with a concession fee (Equity members and students) of £50. A one-day ticket: £40, and a one-day concession ticket is £20.

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