Stony Brook Southampton will commemorate the launch of its new Rakoff Studio with A Tribute to David Rakoff on Saturday, November 9 at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater.
“David Rakoff first came to the Southampton MFA program in 2007, recommended by his friend and our faculty member, Melissa Bank,” Robert Reeves, Associate Provost, Southampton Graduate Arts Campus, explained. “Another friend of David’s, Matt Klam, was also teaching for us, and soon after, David’s good friend Patty Marx joined our program.”
The Rakoff Studio, a podcast recording studio, will also be utilized as a space for events and teaching that will champion the wide variety of creative ventures that Rakoff himself was known for.
“From 2007 to 2012, David taught workshops in the ‘familiar essay’ at our Manhattan Center (now the Center for Creative Writing and Film) and also at our Southampton Campus. The early joke was that David considered the Hamptons ‘wilderness,’ but over time he grew to love his time in Southampton and with our community of writers,” Reeves noted. “David’s presence as a writer, teacher, and friend made a powerful and lasting impression on us, just as it has with so many others. In 2007, we were just beginning to grow as a program, and during his years with us, David’s example shaped our identity, helping us better understand not only who we were as a writing community, but what we aspired to be.”
Rakoff’s essays were featured in The New York Times, GQ, Details, Salon, Slate, and many other publications. He was a frequent contributor to WBEZ’s This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass, who will host the gathering at the Avram Theater. Rakoff was also an actor who appeared in multiple plays written by friend and mentor, David Sedaris and his sister Amy Sedaris. Rakoff penned, as well as starred in The New Tenants screen adaptation, which took home the Academy Award for best live-action short film. Rakoff earned the Thurber Prize for American Humor for Half Empty, while Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable received Lambda Literary Awards.
In 2012, after battling cancer for more than 20, he succumbed to the disease. “After the tragedy of his passing, we dedicated an issue of The Southampton Review to his memory, and soon after began work on another plan to honor David in our programs, a six-year effort to create a flexible recording and performance space that would honor David’s memory and reflect the breadth of his creative interests,” Reeves said. “No project is easy within a state university system with limited resources, but the determination to create this space never waned, any more than David’s memory waned.”
A Tribute to David Rakoff will feature readings from Rakoff’s work, as well as Selected Shorts, mostly classic and new short fiction, produced by the Symphony Space in New York City. Melissa Bank, Rachel Dratch, Matthew Klam, Jon Glaser, Patricia Marx, and more are expected to take part in the readings, as well as share personal anecdotes.
“The Rakoff Studio will be a teaching space for advanced training in the arts, and a venue to develop and present new work in a range of creative endeavors,” Reeves relayed. “It will be home to the Southampton Audio Podcast Fellows program as well as the new location for the Writers Speak reading series. The space also features technology that will permit us to unify our Southampton and Manhattan student populations.”
A Tribute to David Rakoff will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Admission $15 for students and $30 for general admission. Additionally, a limited number of VIP tickets, which includes a cocktail reception with Ira Glass in the Rakoff Studio prior to the event from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m., are available for $250.
Avram Theater is located at 239 Montauk Highway in Southampton. For more information, visit www.stonybrook.edu.