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Women Directors on Fornés as Director panel at New York University–Sunday 15 April 2018

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New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts presented the panel Women Directors on Fornés as a Director at the Colloquium on María Irene Fornés in New York livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Sunday 15 April at 4 p.m. EDT (New York) / 3 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 1 p.m. EDT (San Francisco).

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Women Directors on Fornés as Director
Celebrated directors discuss the influence of Fornés’ work on their own.
With Alice Reagan, Tina Satter, Gisela Cardenas, Katie Pearl and Elena Araoz. Julia Jarcho chairs.

María Irene Fornés (b. 1930, Havana, Cuba) is among the most influential American theater-makers of the twentieth century. A defining force within the off-off-Broadway movement of the 1960s and 1970s (and nine-time Obie Award winner), Fornés — as playwright, director, designer and teacher — became a guiding presence for emerging theater artists of the 1980s and 1990s, especially those invested in staging feminist, queer and latinx aesthetics and experiences. Fornés’ experiments in theatrical form and her transformative teaching techniques continue to challenge and inspire new generations of theater-makers today. Even so, the living legacy of María Irene Fornés remains remarkably under-acknowledged among contemporary theater artists, students and scholars. Currently 87 years old, Fornés resides on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Due to late stage Alzheimer’s disease, she is no longer writing or teaching.

In April 2018, multiple gatherings will activate broader awareness about Fornés’ multifaceted legacy among theater artists, scholars and students. On Saturday, April 14, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts — in partnership with with the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) — will host the 2018 LTC María Irene Fornés Institute Symposium in Princeton, New Jersey. The 2018 LTC Fornés Symposium will convene an intergenerational “community gathering” of artists, academics, students, and others for a day of vigorous, Fornés-inspired creativity, conversation, and conviviality. On Sunday 15 April, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts will present a Colloquium on María Irene Fornés. The NYU Fornés Colloquium will feature a panel of experts on Fornés, a roundtable of women directors discussing the influence of Fornés’ directorial work, and a concert reading of Fornés’ musical Promenade. This constellation of events aims to gather Fornés’ 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. 

Panelists:

ELENA ARAOZ recent productions: Fornes' Mud (Boundless), Mac Wellman’s A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds (New York Theatre Workshop Next Door), Octavio Solís’ Prospect(Boundless), Dipika Guha’s Mechanics of Love (To-by-For), Catherine Filloux’s Kidnap Road (La MaMa), Virginia Grise’s She-She-She (New Ohio), Hilary Bettis’ Alligator (New Georges/Sol Project), Warren Leight’s Union Square Incident (24 Hour Plays on Broadway), Dipika Guha’s Azaan (Oregon Symphony), Two Arms and a Noise (Bucharest). Workshops include Fornes’ Conduct of Life(Wilma Theatre), events for Anna Deavere Smith/Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. Upcoming: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival St. Louis)In Between (Walnut Street Theatre).www.elenaaraoz.com

GISELA CARDENAS has been seen in Europe, South America, and the USA. Selected credits: Agamemnon (Drama Desk Nomination); Watanabe’s Antigone (Romania); An Oresteia (CSC); HotInk Festival 2008-2009; Tango Palace & Dr. Kheal (2010 Fornes Festival); Medea (Perú); Richard III (Norway); Weskler's The Kitchen; Fassbinder’s Katzelmaher; Asmussen’s Nobody Meets Anyone(Brazil); Schiller's Mary Stuart; Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare (NYU/ETW). Upcoming with InTandem Lab, her company: Hybrid Suite No 2: The Carmen Variations, an electronic opera in development at HERE; An Isle Full of Noises a sonic performance of the Tempest, Dying for It and Sergio Blanco’s Thebas Land.

JULIA JARCHO is a playwright and director from NYC with the company Minor Theater. She writes about theater, modernism, and critical theory in the English department at NYU. Plays include The Terrifying (Abrons Arts Center 2017), Every Angel is Brutal (Clubbed Thumb 2016), Nomads (Incubator 2014), Grimly Handsome (Incubator 2013), Dreamless Land (New York City Players/Abrons 2011), and American Treasure (13P 2009). She has won an OBIE for Best New American Play (Grimly Handsome) and a Doris Duke Impact Award. Books: Minor Theater: Three Plays (53rd State);Writing and the Modern Stage: Theater Beyond Drama, (Cambridge UP).

KATIE PEARL is a theater director, playwright, and teacher. She is co-Artistic Director of the Obie-winning company PearlDamour, with whom she creates interdisciplinary, often site-specific work. Recognition includes four Map Fund, two NEA, and a Creative Capital Award; commissions include Trinity Repertory Theater, The American Repertory Theater, The Kitchen, the Whitney Museum, PS122, and the Contemporary Arts Center/New Orleans.  In 2016, Pearl was the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton and a visiting lecturer at Harvard. Pearl is a producer of The Rest I Make Up, Michelle Memran’s documentary about Maria Irene Fornes.  In 2017, as the Quinn Martin Distinguished Chair of Directing at University of California at San Diego, Pearl directed Fornes’s What of the Night?.

ALICE REAGAN is a freelance director. Plays by Maria Irene Fornes: Abingdon Square (Bates College, undergraduate honors thesis), Drowning (Williamstown), What of the Night? (Barnard College),Enter THE NIGHT (Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble), Promenade (Barnard). She has directed staged readings of Summer in Gossensass (Fornes Festival) and The Office (New Perspectives). MA Performance Studies: Tisch. MFA: Columbia. She is Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Directing at Barnard. Member: Wingspace Theatrical Design. Most recent: Jeune Terre by Gabrielle Reisman. Upcoming: Hir by Taylor Mac at Shakespeare & Company.  alicereagan.com

TINA SATTER is a writer, director, and Artistic Director of the Obie-winning theater company Half Straddle based in New York City. Named an "Off Off Broadway Innovator to Watch" by TimeOutNew York and winner of a Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, her plays and videos have been presented at festivals and theaters throughout the U.S, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Tina’s Master’s thesis at Reed College was on the work on Maria Irene Fornes.

Contact: Gwendolyn Alker, Distinguished Teacher and Director of Theatre Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University: fornessymposiumnyu@gmail.com

The NYU event is made possible with support from the Drama Department, Institute of Performing Arts, Initiative for Creative Research and the Dean's Office at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts; with further support from NYU's Center for the Humanities.

For further information on all Princeton based events, contact: Brian Herrera, Assistant Professor of Theater, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University: bherrera@princeton.edu

For further information about the LTC and the 2018 LTC Fornés Symposium, see: www.latinxtheatrecommons.com

For more information on registration for Saturday's events, contact: Abigail Vega at abigail@howlround.com

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email tv@howlround.com, or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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I love the theme that's emerged here on a director's relationship with Fornes; she can be treated as both master and muse, and yet her work demands partnership from the director, not idolatry. This strikes me as one of the most subtle but pertinent aspects of feminist work. To take the play on as a collaborator, rather than a rulebook is to resist the hierarchy that can emerge in the rehearsal room (producer above director, director above actors), patriarchal in its nature. The relationship feels so alive between director and Fornes, in the way these women speak about it. I thought Katie Pearl's phrasing of it was really interesting, balancing both a feeling of community as a director of Fornes's work (the director is "part of a surge of questioning") and a sense of lineage, that Fornes came first and we are "feeling the ripples" of her contribution still.

I thought that this talk was so insightful. Bringing together directors who each had such a connection to the work of Fornes is a great idea. I was compelled by their stories of how each came to appreciate Fornes, but I wished that they could have spent more time on her individual plays and some of the themes/interesting structures within her writing. For one who is not all too familiar with Fornes' work, I wished I could have gotten a little more insight on who she is as a playwright and what her work means to the theatre community. Overall, though, it was so wonderful to listen to!

Amanda Lanza