Press Releases

April 14, 2003
Alan Alda Offers "Essential Ingredient" to Drama Writers

Southampton College Special Lecture Attracts Over 300

Darren Johnson
(631) 287 8313
Fax: (631) 283 4081

Alan Alda gave a special lecture to over 300 Southampton College writing, theater and film students and members of the community in the Avram Theater on Thursday night on "Dramatic Writing: The Essential Ingredient." Using humor and his own experiences as a writer, director and actor, he told students that most great stories start simple: "A character needs to want something of great value to him and her, then he or she has to achieve it. The essential ingredient is not conflict, but it's wanting something and trying to get it." But Alda also warned to stay away from car chases and bank robberies. "Writing dramatic action shouldn't be a formula, but a principle -- it should be subtle."

The event was hosted by Keyspan Distinguished Professor James Larocca and part of the Southampton College Special Lecture Series.

Alan Alda has distinguished himself as an actor, writer, producer and director in every dramatic medium, including stage, film and television. A graduate of Fordham University, Alda has, over a 40-year show business career, appeared in nearly 20 films and served as writer, director and star in four on them: "The Four Seasons" (1981), "Sweet Liberty" (1986), "A New Life" (1988) and "Betsy's Wedding" (1990). In recent years, Alda has appeared in several films, including "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989), "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (1993), "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996), "Flirting With Disaster" (1996) and "The Object of My Affection" (1998). Residents of nearby Water Mill, Alda and his wife Arlene are also well known for their support of major civic, social and political causes. The couple will receive honorary degrees from Southampton College at May's Commencement based upon their activism and generosity.

James Larocca shares a similar concern for social and political issues. The former Dean of Southampton College, he also serves as the Keyspan Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, teaching at Southampton College and at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. Larocca has had a rich and varied career in government and politics, business, the law and academe. A lawyer, he served in the cabinets of two New York governors (as Commissioner of Energy and Transportation) and as President of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business and civic organization. He currently serves as Chairman of the Long Island Nature Conservancy, the major environmental preservation organization. Larocca is a combat veteran of Vietnam where he served as a naval officer in river patrol in the Mekong Delta. In 1998 he was a candidate for nomination for Governor of New York. He is also an award-winning playwright.