NEW YORK —In the fall of 2002, when Maria McConville (FCLC ’04) was a junior in Fordham’s Theatre Program at Lincoln Center, she and her roommates, all performance majors, did something that required more courage than stepping out onto a stage alone. They invited one of their professors, Marian Seldes, to their apartment in McMahon Hall for dinner. They were-and still are-in awe of Seldes, with good reason.
One of the matriarchs of the New York stage, Seldes is a Tony Award winner, an inductee into the Theatre Hall of Fame and one of Edward Albee’s favorite actresses (she’s played numerous roles in his dramas). But on that particular night, she was just one of the girls. For the occasion, Maria made one of her specialties: eggplant parmagiana.
Three years later, on Sept. 19, 2005, Seldes stood on the stage of the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village. She was there not to perform, but to present an award at the first New York Innovative Theatre Awards, founded to honor those who work on the more than 2,000 off-off Broadway productions staged annually.
When Seldes read out the name of one of this year’s co-recipients of the award for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role, she gasped. “Someone I love very much,” she said simply, “Maria McConville!” Greeting her former student on stage, Seldes beamed, for it was her turn to serve the pièce de résistance.
“Teaching is a way of paying your debt to the art form you love,” said Seldes. “To help talent grow is an enormous responsibility, and the cooperative approach of Fordham’s program is priceless.”
McConville, who earned the New York Innovative Theatre award for her role in the play First Time Out of Bounds, agreed.
“Standing on a stage that you painted, in a costume you helped build, under lights that you hung is a feeling of oneness and fullness,” she said.