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Samuel D. Hunter to Attend Screening of ‘The Whale’
Friday, August 25, 2023


Idaho playwright Samuel Hunter will attend a special screening of “The Whale” at The Argyros in Ketchum.

The film, based on Hunter’s play and screenplay, won Brendan Fraser a Best Actor Oscar a few months ago.

The screening is a benefit for the non-profit Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency. It will be shown at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Complimentary wine will be served, and Hunter will be on hand to discuss the film.

General admission tickets are $25 and tax-deductible, available at VIP admission, which costs $150, includes a pre-screening wine and hors d’oeuvres reception with Hunter in the Bailey Theater, along with prime seating for the screening.

“We’re very excited to have a playwright of Samuel’s stature coming to the Wood River Valley to present the film. I think it’s going to be a very special event,” said Jon Kane, who oversees the Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency with John Baker.

Kane organized a reading of Hunter’s play years ago and since has seen the movie. Baker worked with Hunter on the play as a dramaturg, allowing Hunter to bounce ideas about the story and its characters off of him.

“One of the things that’s exciting for me is being able to see a play that 13 years ago I thought was really beautiful, a play that had something meaningful to say. Sometimes plays reach a limited audience in the theatre so there’s something beautiful about it being presented to a wider audience through screen,” said Baker.

“It speaks so highly of all the people involved with the project that th3ey were making it during COVID and everyone had a passion for the story they were telling,” he added.

Funds raised from Tuesday’s event will help fund a free reading of Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency current writer-in-residence Martyna Majok’s new play on Sept. 28 at The Argyros.

Kane and Baker founded the Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency a few years ago to offer playwrights time and space to work on new material.

“Jon and I were trying to figure out ways of raising awareness of the Playwright’s Residency. We thougth a lot of people might be interested in coming to see the movie, and it will serve as a benefit for the residency,” said Baker. “The film has been in the theatres, but this is a special chance to see the film’s playwright talk about the play—we thought it would be extra special for the valley.”

Hunter, who grew up in Moscow, Idaho, is a MacArthur Genius whose plays include “A Case for the Existence of God,” which he helped stage as a work-in-progress in Ketchum. Other plays include “A Bright New Boise,” which won an Obie Award and Drama Desk nomination for Best Play.

“The Whale,” which premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning two. It also won a Drama Desk Award. It’s the story of a reclusive English teacher trying  to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.

“It’s especially exciting that Sam Hunter is joining us to talk about the origins of his play that he later adapted for the screen,” said Kane. “Giving audiences a glimpse into a playwright’s creative process is at the heart of what Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency does.”

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