Playwright earns award that allows her to pursue dual passions:writing and family

2003-07-05T23:00:00Z Playwright earns award that allows her to pursue dual passions:writing and familyJana Haas, Journal Staff Writer Rapid City Journal
July 05, 2003 11:00 pm  • 

Adelaide MacKenzie Fuss loves to hear her words talk.

The Black Hawk woman says nothing is more rewarding than hearing her written words spoken by professional actors in the way that she wants them to be expressed.

"I have a lot of feeling and a deep desire to communicate something and have an outlet. It's exciting," she said. "You create this whole other world, and people walk away with something you wanted them to know. You have this way of influencing people's reality for the better."

MacKenzie Fuss recently was chosen as a Bush Artist Fellow for 2003-04 in the category of playwriting. She was awarded $44,000 and plans to use the money to work on several unfinished projects, including numerous plays, two novels and a screenplay.

She received the grant money by submitting an application thatincluded documentation that her work had been in one full production or fully staged workshop production presented for the public for which admission was charged.

A 1989 graduate of University of California, Los Angeles, MacKenzie Fuss began writing plays as a college student, shortly after her father died.

"I can't explain it. I just started writing and producing plays and then I met an adjudicator at a contest, and she sort of became my mentor."

Originally from Newport Beach, California, MacKenzie Fuss became familiar with the Black Hills area when she and her husband, Larry Dean, vacationed here one summer, and she discovered a deep sense of connection to the land.

"I understand the heartbeat of this country, and this land is in my heart," she said, looking out the window at the black sky hovering over Rapid City just before rain started to fall. "Nature affects our outlook. It affects our spirit."

Before relocating to South Dakota with her family in 1998, MacKenzie Fuss had an extensive and varied career in theater and film. She won American College Theater and Los Angeles Dramalogue awards. She also received writing commissions for original work from both the Joseph Papas Public Theater of New York and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Artistic director Stephen Daldry (Academy Award Director for "The Hours") produced her play, "The Distance of You," in workshop format at the Royal Court Theater of London. In workshop format, MacKenzie Fuss collaborates with a professional cast, director and lighting and sound crews. "The Distance of You" was also produced in New York's Synchronicity Theater and featured with Kate Mulgrew ("Star Trek") at the Mark Taper Forum.

She has worked with many top film and stage actors including Angela Bassett, Jack Black, Don Cheadle, Lesley Ann Warren, Tate Donovan, Janel Moloney, Joe Spano and Andrew Robinson.

Portions of her plays have been published in "The Great Monologues of The Mark Taper Forum" (Smith & Krauss Publishing). She also collaborated with director Zalman King ("9-1/2 Weeks") to write an original feature-length film for Showtime titled "Fractured."

Although she has written, directed, and produced several of her plays and worked with well-known stars, her path to becoming a professional playwright was not quick or easy, she said.

When she was just getting started as a young playwright, MacKenzie Fuss would wake up every day at 4 a.m. to write for three hours and then put in time at temporary jobs all day. She used any extra cash to send out scripts. "I would send out 40 to 50 scripts per play. It was like every day I'd get a bill and a rejection letter. But then, you get the one call that says, 'Hey, we're flying you to London to workshop your play,' and it pays off. You have to stick to your dream."

MacKenzie Fuss continues to embrace her dream, and the Bush Artist Fellowship will help keep her on track, she said. With three small children to raise, MacKenzie Fuss devotes the early morning hours to her writing. With the fellowship money, she is now able to work at home and spend time with her family while still exploring new directions in her writing and completing several unfinished projects.

MacKenzie Fuss said she will continue writing until she runs out of ideas. She does not have plans to produce or workshop any of her plays in the Black Hills, but she said the idea is not out of the picture.

MacKenzie Fuss was one of 15 professional artists selected from the South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota region. The Bush Artist Fellowship, according to its Web site, "provides artists with significant financial support that enables them to further their work and their contribution to their communities."

Contact Jana Haas at 394-8424 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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