The Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina Beaufort will present “An Evening with Pat Conroy,” Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.
The event is a kickoff fundraiser to launch a capital improvement campaign for renovations at the center. It will also commemorate the advance release of Conroy’s latest memoir, “The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and his Son.”
The first of seven children born to a young career military officer from Chicago and a Southern beauty from Alabama, Conroy time and again drew upon personal experience to create his bestselling novels. Three of them, “The Boo,” “The Lords of Discipline” and “My Losing Season,” focused on his experience as a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston.
Conroy’s brief tenure as a teacher of underprivileged black children in a one-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island formed the basis for The Water is Wide, which was later turned into the film Conrack starring Jon Voight. The book won a humanitarian award from the National Education Association.
Other Conroy novels were adapted for the screen as well. “The Great Santini,” the precursor to the current memoir, explored conflicts in the author’s childhood, including his ambivalent love for his violent, abusive father. It became the basis for a feature-length motion picture starring Robert Duvall in the title role. “The Prince of Tides,” one of the most beloved novels of modern time, was made into a highly successful feature film directed by and starring Barbra Streisand and actor Nick Nolte. His novel “Beach Music” told the story of a young American who moves to Rome to escape the painful memory of his wife’s suicidal leap from a bridge in South Carolina. South of Broad, his fifth novel and ninth book, was a love letter to the city of Charleston. “The Pat Conroy Cookbook” soon followed, and then “My Reading Life,” a compilation of the books that most influenced him.
Conroy has long been a friend of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Fifty years after his family first moved to Beaufort, Conroy makes his home today on Fripp Island.
“Pat’s association with the university goes back decades,” says historian Lawrence S. Rowland, Ph.D., professor emeritus at USCB and the author of “The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina, Volume I 1514-1861.”
Dr. Rowland and Conroy are lifelong friends. The two met in the early 1960s when Conroy moved to Beaufort. “Pat and I sort of grew up together,” he says.
General admission tickets for the lecture are priced at $100 per person. Sponsorship opportunities and naming opportunities for distinct sections of the center are also available.
Funds generated by “An Evening with Pat Conroy” will be used to support a wide range of capital improvements at the Center for the Arts: upgrading the lighting system, installing new carpet, replacing 461 seats, painting the interior and putting up new signs.
For tickets, contact Bonnie Hargrove, director of the Center for the Arts, at 843-521-4145 or visit www.uscbcenterforthearts.com.