A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.
a film by Karen Allen that debuts Feb. 19 at CSU
Based on the short story by groundbreaking Southern American writer Carson McCullers at age 19, the film “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” is set at a roadside café in the morning of spring 1947. A boy and man meet by chance. The man relates a luminous tale of personal heartbreak and loss, and of his hard-won understanding of the nature of love. The film also is the directorial debut of award-winning, New York-based actor/director Karen Allen.
Executive produced by Columbus State University's Carson McCullers Center.
Note from the Director
"I came across this story when I was in my early 20’s. As a young actor I was drawn to Carson McCullers as a playwright and novelist at first, and then began to read everything she’d written that I could get my hands on. “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud” always loomed large for me among her many short stories, It is a quiet, subtle, mysterious story. It sneaks up on you and has stayed indelibly etched in my imagination all these years. It is a delicate, Zen like passing of wisdom from a older man to a young boy on a rainy day in a roadside café when their two lives unexpectedly intersect. The story, as I see it, is flooded with the raw, tangible beauty of the natural world, set in contrast to the complex, intangible yearning for love in their interior worlds. I intend to stay very close to the story Carson McCullers wrote and to illuminate the characters she has so beautifully drawn in the pages of this story."
Director and Screenwriter
Karen Allen (Director & Screenwriter)
Known for her work as an award-winning actor in more than 40 feature films ("Animal House," "A Small Circle of Friends," "The Wanderers," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Starman," "Scrooged," "The Glass Menagerie," "Malcolm X," "The Perfect Storm," "The Sandlot," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "White Irish Drinkers," "Bad Hurt," and the soon to release "Year By the Sea"). She has worked for 30 years on and off Broadway ("A Summer Day," "Speaking in Tongues," "The Glass Menagerie," "The Monday After the Miracle," "Extremities," "As You Like It," "The Country Girl"). Karen began directing theatre at Bard College at Simon’s Rock 10 years ago and continued her work as a director at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts ("Moonchildren," "Extremities," "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair du Lune") and in New York City with the Obie winning production of Lucy Thurber’s Ashville at the Cherry Lane Theatre. She is a longtime member of the Actor's Studio, on the faculty of the Theatre Dept. at Bard College at Simon's Rock, and on the Board of the Berkshire International Film Festival and the Board of the Amazon Conversation Team. Based on the short story by Carson McCullers, "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud." is the first film she has written and directed.
Carson McCullers (Author)
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Carson McCullers was a prolific American writer of novels, short stories, essays, plays, and poetry. McCullers examined the psychology of lonely, isolated people, which she depicted through her eccentric characters and interpreted with deep empathy. She is best known for her novels, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), which she wrote at the age of twenty-two, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1942), and for her play, A Member of the Wedding (1952). Her novel, The Ballad of a Sad Café (1951), was adapted for the stage by playwright Edward Albee. Four of her novels and plays have been made into feature films. She died in Nyack, New York, in 1967, at the age of 50.
Jeffrey DeMunn (Actor)
Jeffrey DeMunn is a film, television and stage actor. His film credits include: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, The Majestic, The Blob, The X-Files: Fight the Future, Hollywoodland, Burn after Reading, Citizen X, Barbarians at the Gate, and Empire Falls. TV: Billions, The Walking Dead, Divorce, The Affair, Mob City, The Good Wife, Storm of the Century, Kojak: The Price of Justice, Moonlighting, LA Law, The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, E.R., The Practice, Trial by Jury, and Hill Street Blues. Theater: Death of a Salesman, Our Town, The Price, Hedda Gabler, Spoils of War, Sleight of Hand, K2, Bent, Comedians, Modigliani, King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
James McMenamin (Actor)
James McMenamin is best known for his portrayal of Charlie "Donuts" Coates on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Other recurring television credits include TNT's Public Morals, Showtimes' Nurse Jackie, and HBO's Olive Kitteridge. He's appeared as a guest star on Person of Interest, Inside Amy Schumer, The Good Wife, and many others. He recently appeared in the feature films In Dubious Battle, The Long Home, and Blood Heist. He has worked extensively in theatre and made his Broadway debut in the 2014 production of Of Mice and Men. He has previously worked on stage with director Karen Allen in Extremities at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and in Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre's production Ashville.
Jackson Smith (Actor)
Jackson Smith (the Boy) resides in Western Massachusetts, not far from where A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. was filmed. The is his first experience acting in a film. Jackson loves music. He plays the piano and trombone, and spends his time creating short pieces on Garage Band. He is an avid baseball player and fan of the sport. He does parkour, and he is presently performing card tricks for anyone who will be his audience. He studies film with Douglas Trumbull; writing, directing and editing his own home movies.
- "Carson in the Southern Literary Pantheon"
Columbus Public Library - February 16
- Showcase Event: Bill Heard Theatre
- Actress/Director Karen Allen unveils her short film "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud."
- "Carson's Favorite Music" curated by Paul Hostetter, performed by Schwob School of Music
- A dramatic excerpt from A Member of the Wedding under the direction of Larry Dooley
- Monologues by CSU actress in the role of Carson McCullers, written by Scott Wilkerson
- Concert and Reading
- Original music inspired by "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud." composed by CSU Alumna Liliya Ugay; Reception to follow at The Carson McCullers House, 131 S. Broadway, Nyack
- Actress/Director Karen Allen keynote address
- Lecture by McCullers Society President Dr. Casey Kayser
- Film Screening: The Ballad of the Sad Café
- New Yorker critic Hilton Als Friday
- Book launch for Library of America Vol 2 of McC writings
The Century Club, 7 W 43rd St, New York, NY - March 14
- Selected Shorts: The Stories of Carson McCullers, featuring Hilton Als
- Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Conference
- Carson's Columbus: Interactive web-based map
- More film screenings on CSU Main Campus
Carson McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgia, on Feb. 19, 1917. Most famous for her novels "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Reflections in a Golden Eye," "The Member of the Wedding," "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," and "Clock Without Hands." McCullers was also a playwright and a short story writer.
Her small but significant body of work includes five novels, two plays, 20 short stories, more than two dozen nonfiction pieces, a book of children's verse, a number of poems, and an unfinished autobiography.
McCullers' life was blighted by a series of cerebral strokes caused by a misdiagnosed and untreated childhood case of rheumatic fever. The first stroke occurred when she was only 24 years old, and within several years, she was completely paralyzed on her left side. McCullers suffered a final stroke in August 1967 and died at age 50 on Sept. 29, 1967.
A good friend to McCullers, Marilyn Monroe shared teatime with Carson. The chair she sat on is now part of the McCullers Center in Columbus.
Known as one of the most significant American writers of the 20th century, Carson McCullers was a novelist, a short-story writer, playwright, essayist and poet who grew up in Columbus, Georgia.
When Oprah selected Carson's book "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" for her book club in 2004, the 76-year-old book became No. 1 bestseller that May.
Truman Capote, a trailblazing writer from the South with works including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood", was once a close friend of McCullers.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams suggested the stage adaptation of her novel "The Member of the Wedding" into a poignant play.
Karen Allen, costar in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", will soon debut her short film based on McCullers' award-winning short story "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud."
The Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Carson McCullers; to nurturing writers and musicians and educating young people; and to fostering literary, musical, artistic, and intellectual culture in the United States and abroad.
To that end, the Center operates a museum-artist residency space in McCullers's childhood home in Columbus, Georgia, and an events space in her adult home in Nyack, New York; offers fellowships for writers, artists, musicians, and scholars; presents educational and cultural programs in both Columbus and Nyack; and maintains an ever-growing archive of materials related to the life and work of Carson McCullers.
Learn More About Carson And Her Work:
- CSU maintains an extensive archive of McCullers material on campus in the CSU Archives.
- Many of McCullers' papers are housed in The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.
- The Carson McCullers Center is part of The Southern Literary Trail.
- The Carson McCullers Center has received generous grants from the Historic Chattahoochee Commission.
- The Carson McCullers Center has received generous grants from the Georgia Humanities Council.
- Carson McCullers is featured in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
- The Carson McCullers Center is part of the local area organization Chattahoochee Valley Writers Inc.
- The Carson McCullers Center has been featured in The Georgia Review.
- The Carson McCullers Center is a proud member of the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance.
*CSU's Carson McCullers Center is also pleased to announce Melissa Pritchard as the 2016 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Writing Fellow.
In 1944 when Carson's father died, her mother left Columbus and moved to Nyack, New York, where she bought this house. Carson lived with her mother and sister off and on in this house for years. Carson eventually bought the house from her mother and is where she died in 1967. In December 2006, the McCullers house in Nyack was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Carson's physician and long time friend, Dr. Mary E. Mercer, bequeathed the home in Nyack to Columbus State University's Carson McCullers Center. After Mercer's passing in late April 2013, the Center inherited not only the house but also many Carson-related artifacts and documents that shed light on the last 10 years of Carson's life.
Due to the generosity of Mercer, CSU is one of the only universities to own two homes by a single author and now houses the world's most extensive research collection on Carson. An endowment in Mercer's name also has been created to continue these efforts in the curation and preservation of Carson's legacy.
Summer Study in New York City
The New York study-away program offers students a fun and intense urban experience in one of the world's great capitals of art and culture: New York City. Just like famous Columbus author Carson McCullers, you can travel to the Big Apple and study the arts.
Students in the program travel to New York to live in the heart of the city, the famed Greenwich Village, for three weeks. Transportation to and around the city is included, as well as lodging and most meals. CSU English and art professors offer various classes for full course credit. Students also participate in daily field trips, including:
- Multiple performances (theatre, dance, music)
- New York's major art museums (MOMA, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Whitney)
- American Museum of Natural History
- Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty
- Ellis Island and the Tenement Museum
- Walking tours in Brooklyn, Harlem, Greenwich Village
- A trip to Nyack to visit Carson McCullers adult home
- Personal excursions around the city
The next trip takes place summer 2018; the center is accepting applications fall 2017.
The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers
The center accepts applications for the 2017 Fellowship on Feb. 1, 2017. Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2017.
Named in honor of Carson's parents, The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers was inspired by McCullers's experience at the Breadloaf Writer's Conference in Vermont, especially the Yaddo Arts Colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. To honor the contribution of these writers' residences to McCullers's work, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to study in her childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to focus on their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities.
Description and details
The Marguerite and Lamar Fellowship for Writers is offered during fall semester. The fellowship begins the first of September and ends the first of December. During this time, the writing fellow will reside in a spacious private apartment inside Carson McCullers's childhood home, the Smith-McCullers House. The fellow is provided with a stipend of $5,000 to cover costs of transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellowship recipients are encouraged to take an active role in the community and to meet informally with students and local residents interested in writing. The fellow will work with the McCullers Center director to plan a presentation near the end of the residency.
The Smith-McCullers House is located on a quiet residential street in Columbus' historic area. The fellow will occupy one-half of the Smith-McCullers House. The remainder of the house serves as the Smith-McCullers house museum. Because the house operates as a museum and outreach center, events and tours frequently occur in the upper part of the home during the fellow's time here. However, the apartment is comprised of a large living/writing/sleeping space, a private bathroom, and a private entrance, allowing fellows to work without interruption or disturbance by the Center and Museum. The kitchen is shared by the fellow and the Center. The Center uses the kitchen for special events throughout the fall, in which the fellow is always invited to participate.
The apartment is adequately furnished. Fellows need bring only their personal belongings. The Carson McCullers Center provides utilities, general property maintenance, a computer and online service. Fellows are encouraged to bring a laptop. Since public transportation is limited, an automobile is recommended; however, there are grocery stores, post offices, and other services within walking distance. A spouse or companion is welcome, but children and pets are not allowed.
- 2006 -- Melanie Fallon
- 2007 -- Mylene Dressler
- 2008 -- Kelly Hayes-Raitt
- 2009 -- Selena Anderson
- 2010 -- Jessica Garratt
- 2011 -- David Samuel Levinson
- 2012 -- Evan James
- 2013 -- Anzhelina Polonskaya
- 2014 -- Caitlin Hayes
- 2015 -- Rebecca Gayle Howell
- 2016 -- Melissa Pritchard
We will begin accepting submissions Feb. 1, 2017. Application deadline is on or before April 1, 2017.
I. Compile the following information for submission to our on-line Human Resources site:
- a cover letter which explains why you would make a suitable fellow, as well as the nature and extent of the work you intend to complete during the 3-month residency
- your latest curriculum vitae, making sure to include fellowships, scholarships, prizes, or other honors you have received;
- a writing sample of no more than 20 pages;
You may mail any book or books that you have published as a writing sample (books will be returned upon request):
The Carson McCullers Center Fellowship Program
Columbus State University
4225 University Avenue
Columbus, GA 31907
II. Also, we require at least two letters of recommendation. Please have your recommenders submit these at the link below:
All applications must be completed on or before April 1.
All applications will be acknowledged, and finalists will be chosen and scheduled for telephone interviews with the selection committee by May 15.
After each finalist completes a telephone interview, a Fellow will be chosen by the selection committee, to be announced June 1.Direct questions to:
The Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians
Announcement of Winner: June 1. All applicants will receive notification of the winner.
Virginia Spencer Carr Scholarship
Founded in April 2012, this scholarship honors the memory of former CSU English Department faculty member, Virginia Spencer Carr, and her valuable contributions to studies of Columbus author Carson McCuller in the biography "The Lonely Hunter."
Faulkner Studies Scholarship
Created in honor of Columbus resident Susan M. Cochran and her dedication to studies of great author William Faulkner, the Scholarship for Faulkner Studies supports faculty and student travel to the University of Mississippi's yearly Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference in July.
Carson McCullers Composer Residency Program
Columbus State University's Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, in collaboration with the Schwob School of Music, established the Carson McCullers Composer Residency Program in 2006. Made possible by contributions to CSU's Capital Campaign, the program annually commissions an internationally known composer to write a new work for the CSU Percussion Ensemble, which then is performed in a world premiere of the commissioned piece. In addition, the CSU Contemporary Music Ensemble presents an entire program each spring dedicated to the guest composer's work, an activity that involves many students and faculty members working closely with the composer in rehearsals during the week leading up to the concert. During this time, the guest composer resides in the Carson McCullers House on Stark Avenue in Columbus.
Following the success of the 2006 Composer Residency Program, a second composer residency was added, this one in guitar, directed by Dr. Andrew Zohn.
Guest composers have been:
- Eric Moe (2006, percussion)
- Brian Cherney (2007, percussion)
- Atanas Ourkouzounov (2007, guitar)
- Nico Muhly (2008, percussion)
- Carlos Rafael Rivera (2008, guitar)
- Sergio Assad (2010, guitar)