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2018 LTC María Irene Fornés Institute Symposium

Watch the full video of the convening here

Princeton, New Jersey, 14 April 2018

The 2018 Latinx Theatre Commons Maria Irene Fornés Institute Symposium, part of an entire weekend of Fornés-related events, convened an intergenerational community of over one hundred artists, students, and academics for a day of rigorous Fornés-inspired creativity, conversation, and conviviality. See the full list of attendees and check out the agenda here. In the spirit of a family reunion, this event gathered Irene's students and collaborators, as well as artists and scholars who have been inspired by her, to celebrate her living legacy and collaboratively document her enduring impact. This event was proudly produced in partnership with Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts, along with other events happening 12-15 April 2018.

"María Irene Fornés first presented Fefu and Her Friends in 1977. She set the piece in 1935. Yet its depiction of a mind coping with trauma feels as if it could’ve been written yesterday."—Lauren Villegas

María Irene Fornés was a luminary of the 1960s Off-Off Broadway scene, as both a playwright and a director. Her works included Fefu and Her Friends, Mud, and The Conduct of Life. She was a nine-time Obie winner, including an Obie for Sustained Achievement, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play, And What of the Night. She was a beloved and highly influential teacher, whose pedagogy with the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Lab transformed contemporary theatre. María Irene Fornés passed away on 30 October 2018, but the Fornés Institute continues their work to preserve and to amplify her legacy as a teacher, mentor, and artist, through workshops, convenings, and advocacy.

Read reflections on the convening

"I’m committing to writing more courageously, I’m committing to wherever my path takes me because I am on a transition, I’m committing to bringing something of the Fornés Institute to my next institution." —Olga Sanchez Saltveit

On Sunday 15 April 2018, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts presented a Colloquium on María Irene Fornés—see the video of the event here. The NYU Fornés Colloquium featured a panel of experts on Fornés, a roundtable of women directors discussing the influence of Fornés’ directorial work, and a concert reading of Fornés’s musical Promenade. This constellation of events gathered Fornés’s students and collaborators—as well as those who have been inspired by her—to deepen understanding of her work and her methods, to document her enduring impact, and to extend her living legacy into the twenty-first century.

Collage of theatre artists gathering and speaking at the LTC María Irene Fornés Symposium.

This convening also featured interludes—performances or readings of plays by Fornés or inspired by her incredible teaching legacy including:

  • Actors’ Studio production of The Danube, directed by Estelle Parsons
  • Cafecito/Hosted Conversation: Translating Fornés, led by Rose Cano, with Monica Cortes Viharo
  • Princeton Program in Theater’s Fefu and Her Friends, directed by Bob Sandberg
  • Sneak peek screening of the film The Rest I Make Up, directed by Michelle Memran
  • I Am in Fifth Grade, You Are in Kindergarten, two short plays in honor of María Irene Fornés

"[When] Irene began to write plays...she didn’t know what she was doing, which allowed her to experiment, and gave her this freedom." —Michelle Memran

The 2018 LTC Fornés Institute Symposium was the first formal gathering of the Fornés Institute, an initiative of the LTC which works to preserve and archive Maria Irene Fornés’s legacy as a teacher, mentor and artist through workshops, convenings, and advocacy. This symposium served as both an opportunity for scholarship about the work and legacy of Maria Irene Fornés to be highlighted, as well as a place for scholars, teachers, and practitioners to gather and learn more about this seminal Cuban American playwright and teacher.

Those who comprise the Fornés Institute Committee believe that Maria Irene Fornés’ impact on Latinx Theatre, and the American Theatre at large, to be as great as other giants of our field, and refuse to allow her legacy to be passed over by selective history and normative gatekeepers. The committee hopes that by promoting her long list of achievements, advocating for her work to be taught in the university setting, and enlightening the field of her numerous students and their successes, they will be doing their part to ensure that her legacy is remembered for generations to come.

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