Laura Harrington, award winning playwright, lyricist and librettist, winner of the 2008 Kleban Award for “most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre,” has written dozens of plays, musicals, operas and radio plays which have been produced in 28 states, Canada and Europe, in venues ranging from Off-Broadway to Houston Grand Opera to the Paris Cinemateque. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England. Additional awards include a Boston IRNE Award for Best New Play, a Bunting Institute Fellowship at Harvard/ Radcliffe, a Whiting Foundation Grant-in-Aid, the Joseph Kesselring Award for Drama, a New England Emmy, and a Quebec Cinemateque Award. Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She has also been a frequent guest artist at Tufts, Harvard, Wellesley, Skidmore, and the University of Iowa. She was the 2014 Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence at UMASS Lowell.
A Catalog of Birds, her second novel, published by Europa in 2017, has been praised by The Washington Post, CONSEQUENCE literary magazine and others. Alice Bliss, (Penguin/ Viking) her first novel, widely acclaimed in print and online and a Boston Globe bestseller, won the 2012 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction. Alice Bliss was published in Italy, Denmark and the UK, where it was a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick. In addition, Playwrights Horizons in NYC has commissioned Alice Bliss, the musical with composer Jenny Giering, librettist Karen Hartman and lyricist Adam Gwon. A workshop of the musical will take place in 2018 in NYC, with Mark Brokaw directing.
Laura Harrington will talk about the inspiration for A Catalog of Birds, the books and the artists that inspired her, from America’s Other Audubon, to Matt Adrian’s bird art, to field journals. Ken Burns’ documentary, The Vietnam War, which chronicles the damage that comes home from war, could be the perfect companion.
“ … one of the great pleasures of reading “A Catalog of Birds” is that it’s as impossible to categorize as it is to put down. The smooth path of Nell’s life is interrupted by tragedy. Her best friend, Megan, disappears mysteriously, and her beloved brother, Billy, comes home from Vietnam severely injured. At once, the novel becomes a searing war story and a page-turning thriller.” The Washington Post.
The novelist and essayist, Karl Marlantes, is the first Vietnam veteran quoted in the Burns’ documentary: “Coming home was as traumatic as being in Vietnam.”