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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Award-winning playwright Lee Blessing ’71 to speak

Reed College's 93rd commencement ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 14, under the tent on Reed's south lawn. This year approximately 270 graduates will receive bachelor's degrees, and 2 will receive master of arts in liberal studies degrees.

The commencement speaker will be Lee Blessing, a 1971 Reed graduate who is one of the country's most respected playwrights, television scriptwriters, and film screenwriters; his play A Walk in the Woods was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. (See biographical notes below.)

If you’d like to send reporters or camera crews, or if you’d like to interview Blessing, please call Nadine Fiedler at 503/777-7590 or send email to

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Time magazine has called Lee Blessing ’71 "America's most imaginative playwright on public issues" and said that he "takes on big political questions, finding the human dimension without stinting the abstraction." His play A Walk in the Woods, inspired by events during the 1982 Geneva Peace Talks, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; it ran on Broadway, in Moscow, and in London's West End, where it starred Sir Alec Guinness. His many other plays, which have garnered Tony and Olivier nominations, include Cobb (actor Kevin Spacey saw it and helped bring about its off-Broadway run), Patient A, Two Rooms, Fortinbras, and Eleemosynary, winner of a 1997 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award. Blessing has won the American Theater Critics Award and the George and Elisabeth Marton Award as well as numerous Drama-Logue Awards, and has received grants from the NEA, Guggenheim, Bush, McKnight, and Jerome Foundations. His TNT film Cooperstown won the Humanitas Prize and three nominations for Cable Ace Awards. He has also written for television shows such as Homicide: Life on the Street and Picket Fences and has recently completed projects for HBO, Fox-TV, and Showtime. His latest play, Rewrites, just premiered in Chicago. Blessing is currently the Jonathan R. Reynolds playwright in residence at Denison University in Ohio; he has also taught at the University of Southern California, the University of Iowa, and the University of Texas. A Minnesota native, Blessing earned his first national playwriting award while he was still a student at Reed; he went on to attend the famed Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he earned M.F.A. degrees in poetry and playwriting.

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