Skidmore Literary Society

Salmagundi’s tropical extravaganza

In Skidmore Happenings on February 4, 2012 at 2:10 am

This past Wednesday, Skidmore College’s Surrey-Williamson Inn underwent a great transformation from Tudor-style house to Cuban drinking hole in honor of renowned Albany novelist William Kennedy and his newest work, Chango’s Beads and Two-Toned Shoes. The event, a Salmagundi Salon beautifully orchestrated by Marc Woodworth, was a work of multi-genre bricolage billed as “an evening of song, readings, and theater from Old Havana and Old Albany.”

Mr. Woodworth, long a friend of Mr. Kennedy and a fan of his work, planned the evening around scenes from the novel, and mined many connections in order to bring the evening to fruition. Actors playing characters from the book were brought in from Skidmore’s Theater Department and the National Theater Company of the United States of America, and a number of readers—including Salmagundi’s Peg and Bob Boyers—brought life to the work, with Mr. Kennedy performing the final reading. Mr. Woodworth also enlisted an incredible group of musicians to perform songs referenced in the book: the Music Department’s John Nazarenko, student mainstays Aaron Wallace and Sean Healton, jazz pianist Nat Phipps, Railbird’s Sarah Pedinotti, and the Howard Fishman Trio were among the highlights.

The event was well-attended, with Skidmore faculty, staff, and administrators, Ernest Hemingway, and students nursing mocktails comprising the bulk of the attendees. Support for the event was wide-ranging, with supporters including the Zankel Music Center and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, SEC, Student Speakers Bureau, RAICES, the English Department, the History Department, and Salmagundi Magazine.

The evening was well-received; toward the end of the night, Skidmore literary guru Steven Millhauser declared it to be “the event of the year.” (This was, of course, an offhand comment I overheard while standing uninvited at his table and exchanging meaningful shrugs with fellow literary guru and overall übermensch Steve Stern, but nonetheless it remains the truth.)

Congratulations to Mr. Kennedy on his captivating new book and to Marc on a job exceedingly well done, and let me add that the SLS would love to help host similar events in the future. Those interested in seeing the program can check it out here, and we’ll be posting pictures soon, so stay tuned.

*Photo credit: Sophie Brill

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