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Excitement Builds for Streep Visit

Dubus Preps for his Role as Host

Andre Dubus III
Assoc. Prof. Andre Dubus III is looking forward to his sit-down with Meryl Streep.

By Jill Gambon

How do you prepare for a sit-down with Meryl Streep? 

You do your homework. Lots of homework.

That’s what Assoc. Prof. Andre Dubus III is doing in advance of Streep’s April 1 visit to campus in the latest installment of the Chancellor’s Speaker Series.

Dubus will lead a conversation with Streep at the Tsongas Center before a crowd of 3,500. Proceeds from the event will fund scholarships.

“It’s pretty fun homework. I’ve gotten to watch a lot of Meryl’s movies and I’ve been reading articles and books and interviews,” says Dubus, the acclaimed author of such books as “House of Sand and Fog” and “The Garden of Last Days,” both New York Times bestsellers. “She is one of the world’s finest living artists. I’m honored that she’s coming to UMass Lowell.”

Dubus — who has admired Streep’s work since seeing her in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” the 1979 drama for which she won the first of her three Academy Awards — says he wants to ask her one thing in particular: How do you do it?

“You never see her acting. She always disappears in her roles,” says Dubus. “It takes incredible bravery to totally surrender to the material.”

Streep is establishing two new scholarship funds for UMass Lowell students, one in her name for English majors and the other in the name of Joan Hertzberg, a former classmate of hers, for math majors. All net proceeds from the April 1 event — including a raffle of a director’s chair autographed by Streep — will go to the scholarships. In addition to the Tsongas Center event, Streep will also meet with students during her campus visit.

The Chancellor’s Speaker Series was launched in December 2012 with an appearance by best-selling author Stephen King. Dubus says he hopes students not only learn from but are also inspired by such world-renowned speakers.  

“I hope students see these are regular people who do great things and that they realize that they can do great things, too,” he says. 

Dubus marvels at the range of roles that Streep has brought to life on screen and stage, from the icy Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” to the vindictive Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.”  Is there a role he’d love to see her take on? 

“Blanche DuBois in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’” he says.

Excitement among his English students in anticipation of Streep’s visit is palpable, Dubus says. 

“When somebody of that stature comes to your school, it sends the message that this is a special place. I’m excited. This is going to be fun.”