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David M. Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
David.Henahan@esc.edu

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June 6, 2012

Craig Thornton Named Artist-in-Residence at SUNY Empire State College

Craig Thornton, artist-in-residence

(Syracuse, NY) Craig Thornton, an award-winning playwright and graduate of NYU (BFA) and Goddard College (MFA), has been named artist-in-residence at SUNY Empire State College’s Central New York Center effective with the fall term. He will offer workshops and studies as part of the center’s Arts Learning Community

"We are excited to have Craig on board and to be able to continue to expand the offerings for our students interested in the arts," said CNYC Dean Nikki Shrimpton.

"Craig brings a wonderfully diverse range of expertise and experience in theater, film and broadcasting to the college and we're thrilled to give our students access to learning opportunities from an active, working artist embedded in their area," said Yvonne Murphy, an associate professor of the arts at the college. 

Thornton studied screenwriting at the American Film Institute and his plays have been produced in New York City, Los Angeles and regionally. The L.A. production of “Happy Birthday, Tina Marie” was pick of the week in the L.A. Reader, hailed as “brilliant and witty” by the L.A. Times and is housed in the Central L.A. Library as one of the best plays produced that year. Additionally, every full-length play he has written has placed as a finalist in a nationally recognized contest, including “What We Hold Onto” (Eugene O’Neill National Theater Conference) and, most recently, “The High Cost of Heating” (Northern Writes New Play Festival June 2011) as a top-10 finalist in the New Works Festival at the Phoenix Theater 2012.

“In My Shoes,” a docudrama about the effects on military teens of parental deployment during the recent Middle East conflicts, which he wrote while playwright-in-residence at Indian River Central High School, near Fort Drum, N.Y., has seen several tours and received national attention in a story featured on CNN in 2011. The Midwest premiere took place in May in Kenosha, Wisc. As a result of the success of “In My Shoes,” Thornton was asked to participate in a study mandated by Congress and sponsored by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences about the effects of deployment on communities with a large military population, highlighting the therapeutic power of theater.

“Everyone has a story to tell and a voice to be heard. You may not like the story and you may not like the storyteller, but each of us has a right to an audience, at least once in our lifetime. For me, theater remains the most exciting arena for the storyteller and listener,” said Thornton

While a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, Thornton had several screenplays optioned, most notably the award-winning “Desire and Deceit,” and had five short films produced, which include Her Master’s Voice” and “Martin and Sylvia.” He worked as a screenwriting mentor for Michael Jackson, in film production for several companies, including Propaganda Films, and also worked for one of the most powerful and influential entertainment lawyers in the industry: Melanie Cook.

Of his work with film Thornton noted, “My longest and greatest love affair has been with film. Alone in the dark, with the actors, the images and music was an incredibly intimate and meaningful experience for a teenager growing up in rural upstate New York.”

Thornton is arts and entertainment editor for WWNYTV, a published author and an educator. Awards include TANYS (Theater Association of New York State), NYSTEA (New York State Theater Education Association) and a MacDowell Fellowship.

The college serves more than 2,200 students in the Central New York region and has almost 6000 alumni living in the area.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 63,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

More information about the college is available here.

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