Though you may not realize it, in its early years, Fay Todd literally made Seven Devils possible. In fact, it would not at all be an exaggeration to say that, were it not for Fay, we might not be here today. A lifelong philanthropist with a special interest in teaching, arts and writing in particular, Fay did something rather remarkable all the way back in 2001: she believed in us. Thanks to Fay, we came out of the first Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in the black. Not only that, we had the wherewithal to fund raise for the following year, and the next. That Fay supported us in these early years enabled us to survive long enough to become eligible for grants that often require a three- to five- year history before making an investment in a company.
Even more remarkable, Fay, who lived in New Jersey, actually drove across the country more than once to attend the Conference. She sat in rehearsals, talked with artists, and endeavored to learn all she could about what we were doing and why. On a personal note, Fay was a friend whose wisdom and advice was invaluable. She was committed to our survival. It mattered to her. She inspired me, and all of us, to live up to the faith she had in us.
When Seven Devils signed on to support a newly-formed arts scholarship, created in honor of a McCall student who had grown up doing theater at the Alpine Playhouse, Fay agreed to match - dollar for dollar - the funds we raised. She did so each subsequent year until she passed away in 2014. This tradition of matching donations became such a part of the fabric of the Conference that it continues to this day, thanks to a handful of donors and businesses (including another person I'm tremendously grateful for, Carol Tiffany, who introduced me to Fay and who now sits on our board). Fay didn't just make things happen, she helped to make them matter. Now they continue to happen, even after her passing. I suspect that's just what Fay would want.
In light of all this, it should be no surprise that in her memory, her family created a scholarship fund in her name, the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship. Because Fay cared so deeply about education, the Fellowship focuses on supporting our internship program, most notably through the Frances Starr Todd Design Fellowship, which you can read about below.
On this Giving Tuesday, I can think of no one more deserving of gratitude. I wish I had a photo of Fay to share, but she was never one to have her face billboarded up on the things she supported, so perhaps it is fitting that the remainder of this post focus on work that is the legacy of her efforts on behalf of the Conference.
If you've ever attended the conference, you'll have heard me express my thanks to Fay Todd and the AK Starr Charitable Trust. Through Fay, the Trust was the first foundation to support the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference - support that made the entire endeavor of Seven Devils possible.
- Jeni Mahoney, Producing Artistic Director
About the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship
The Design Fellows then work on a set rendering that we display in the lobby of the Alpine Playhouse so that the audience can see what a set might look like, what the functionally neutral gray furniture and props stand in for.
To the right is a slide show of some of the Design Fellows and their work (2017, Sabrina Reed; 2018, Shay Dite; 2019, Katherine McCann; 2020, Jay Tyson).
We hope you will join us in honoring Fay, her family and their support for these amazing student artists.
We are grateful for every donation.
Learn more about the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship on our webpage.
SUPPORT SEVEN DEVILS TODAY!
Seven Devils Playwrights Conference Family and Friends