Welsh Coordinates Buster Keaton Festival
SALISBURY, MD--This could be the start of something big” was the theme song of the Steve Allen Show, and, as Allen played that song with a jazz group in Lawrence, KS, at the Lied Center for the Arts before going on to the Bowlus Arts Center in Iola to keynote this year’s Buster Keaton Festival, Dr. Jim Welsh, one of the festival coordinators, considered the song prophetic.
The multi-talented Allen, who created the Tonight Show at NBC in the 1950s and who has written 54 books as well as over 8,000 popular songs, had agreed to write the foreword for the next book Welsh and his collaborator, Dr. John Tibbetts, had written for the New York publisher Facts on File, The Encyclopedia of the Stageplay on Film, forthcoming in 2001. Also, Welsh was headed for Iola to finalize plans for a Film Comedy Conference that will be part of the Keaton Festival next year in September 2001.
The Buster Keaton Festival is held every year in Iola because of its proximity to Piqua, KS, where the great silent comedian was born. Each year the “Buster” Award is presented to the keynote speaker. Previous winners include the British film preservationist and television producer of Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, Kevin Brownlow (1999), London Times critic and author David Robinson (1997) and California film preservationist David Shepard, who has restored many silent films for Kino on Video. The Keaton Festival, originated by Iola lawyer Clyde Toland and Mary Martin, director of the Thomas H. Bowlus Fine Arts Center, has put Iola, KS, on the cultural map, with the help of the Kansas Humanities Council. Attendance numbers for the 2000 Keaton Festival broke all previous records.
The 2001 Conference on Film Comedy will be organized by Dr. Frank Scheide of the University of Arkansas, Tibbetts of the University of Kansas, and Welsh, professor of English at Salisbury State University, editor of Literature/Film Quarterly and founding president of the Literature/Film Association. Meanwhile the second millennium Literature Film Conference will be held at the Sheraton Resort and Conference Center in Ocean City, MD, November 29-December 2. The keynote speaker for the Ocean City conference will be Dr. Kenneth S. Rothwell of the University of Vermont, author of A History of Shakespeare on Screen, recently published by Cambridge University Press.
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