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W&L Hosts International Theater Festival and Symposium

Some big international names in the theater world will be attending the 10th National Symposium of Theater in Academe at Washington and Lee University from November 11-14.

Titled “Performyth,” the symposium has expanded this year to include the First International Theater Festival. All performances and events are free and open to the public, but those who wish to attend three or more events, should pay the registration fee of $50. W&L students and faculty will have free access to all events.

Looking back at the symposium’s development over the years, Domnica Radulescu, W&L professor of Romance languages and the symposium’s founder, recollected that, initially, the symposium consisted largely of talks and presentations given by teachers and scholars who were using theatrical techniques in order to teach language and literature. It then developed to include combining theory and practical ways of teaching theater. Later, it included more practical elements and workshops, with the occasional show. “Now this year I’ve expanded it into a full-fledged theater festival,” she said.

The over-arching theme of this year’s festival is reinventions and recreations of myths on the themes of war, violence and sexuality. Radulescu has added her own subtitle of “performance in times of crisis and violence.” She described it by saying, “it’s a statement that in times of crisis and violence maybe we need theater performance even more than ever and that we are doing it with panache.”

Among the highlights of the theater festival will be a performance by the Chicago troupe Trap Door Theater of the play “Horses at the Window” by world-famous Romanian-French playwright Matei Visniec. A talk and question and answer session by the playwright will follow.

Another celebrity at the festival will be Deb Margolin, the Obie award-winning playwright, performance artist and professor at Yale University. She will present three plays. The first two dealwith the Gaza conflict from both perspectives. The third is “Madoff: a Fictional Memoir,” a dialogue between convicted financier Bernie Maddof and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, played by Hank Dobin, dean of the college.

Famous Mexican playwright Guillermo Shmidhubar will also give a talk and readings from his play “Never say Adios to Columbus.”

A commedia dell’arte workshop with masks on the theme of the war of the sexes will be led by Norma Bowles, award-winning theater activist and founding director of the Fringe Benefits theater for social justice group.

Festival-goers can also enjoy a talk with readings from the plays of playwright Joan Lipkin, theater activist and director of That Uppity Theater Company in Saint Louis, Mo.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, Radulescu also invited a troupe of Romanian theater artists to showcase Romanian actors, directors, playwrights and the Romanian school of acting.

Radulescu said that the symposium has become an institution and “people who come here say it is a unique event.”

Joining Radulescu from the W&L faculty this year in separate talks and performances will be Owen Collins and Shawn Evans, both associate professors of theater.

A full schedule of events can be seen at: http://www.wlu.edu/x36147.xml

For more information, contact Professor Domnica Radulescu at (540) 458-8030 or e-mail radulescud@wlu.edu.