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Neil LaBute, one of the most frequently produced playwrights currently working in America, will host “A Conversation with Neil LaBute” August 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre, followed a book signing in the theatre lobby. Presented by the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the event will focus on playwriting in general and LaBute’s work in particular. It is free to the public.

“Anytime we can have a playwright here, it’s important,” said Festival Artistic Director David Ivers. “We get to ask questions that we can’t typically ask. We learn from someone who is currently working his or her craft.”

LaBute is very well known to those who follow the theatre world, and he is destined to become very well known to Festival patrons: His latest play How To Fight Loneliness will have its first public reading at the Festival as part of the New American Playwrights Project August 19, 20, 27. Then, the Festival recently announced, the play will receive a full production during the 2017 season.

LaBute recently had two successful shows close off-Broadway and has another, All the Ways To Say I Love You, opening this fall at MCC Theater. One of LaBute’s first well-known plays was In the Company of Men, which premiered at Brigham Young University, his alma mater, and which he later adapted into a movie starring Aaron Eckhart. He has since written numerous plays, including reasons to be pretty, which appeared on Broadway and was nominated in 2009 for three Tony Awards; In the Beginning; Fat Pig; Miss Julie; Reasons To Be Happy; Good Luck; Over the River and through the Woods; and many more. In 2013, LaBute was recognized with the Arts and Letters Awards in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“Neil’s muscular and deft use of language, offset by his tightly conflicted characters will lend boldness, gravitas, and a fresh voice to our 2017 slate of programming,” said Ivers. “The play is provocative, funny, and heart-breaking all at once and should inspire audiences to engage about the importance of fostering the ‘Shakespeare’s of tomorrow.’”

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).