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SOA Student Returns to His Passion of Playwriting with the Help of a Liberace Scholarship

Although he is a first-year playwriting student in the School of the Arts (SOA), Brandon "Paul" Cohen already has international theatre experience. While in the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa, besides teaching math, English and geography, Cohen also edited and produced Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," adapting it to a Central African audience.

After a few years of various jobs, including working on the 2000 census, Cohen returned to his passion of playwriting, enrolling in the SOA's Theatre Arts program. Thanks to a grant from the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, Cohen is Columbia's 2002-03 Liberace Scholar.

The merit-based review process was limited to promising and deserving graduate students in the playwriting program who demonstrated exceptional talent, drive and artistic potential.

"The Liberace Foundation is one of the major supporters of emerging artists nationwide, and we are honored to have received this prestigious award again this year, enabling us to recognize the work of our most promising students," said Bruce Ferguson, SOA dean.

This is the second consecutive year that the SOA was awarded a grant from the Liberace Foundation. Last year's Liberace Scholar, Bathsheba Doran, had her play "Until Morning" produced by BBC Radio 4 in April. She also adapted Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" for production as this fall's MFA acting thesis project.

Since 1976 the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has provided more than $4.5 million in scholarship grants, benefiting more than 1,400 students.

Liberace considered the Foundation on of his greatest achievements. In his book, "The Things I Love," Liberace wrote "a lot of good things have happened to me in show business and I want to do what I can to give others just starting out a career boost."

During his career Liberace, an internationally renowned pianist and showman, performed with major symphonies from the London Philharmonic to the Boston Pops and entertained audiences with classical and popular music as well as stage and television shows.

Published: Nov 25, 2002
Last modified: Nov 22, 2002

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