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PEN World Voices 2007

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Apr 24, 2007
Apr 29, 2007
Segal Theater


As New York’s first international writers’ festival, PEN World Voices is an answer to American cultural insularity and an attempt to enrich and sustain a global dialogue. Each spring the Festival brings writers from all over the world to New York City to introduce American audiences to the finest international literature. www.pen.org

“Home & Away”, April 24-29, 2007

67 events, 162 writers, 45 countries, 21 languages… endless possibilities!

How do we define the places we live and how do they define us? Join Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, Neil Gaiman, David Grossman, Guillermo Arriaga, Laila Lalami, Dave Eggers, Saadi Youssef, Steve Martin, Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, and many others for six exhilarating days of conversations, debates and readings exploring the theme of “Home & Away”. Proudly presented by PEN American Center and taking place in venues throughout the city, 2007 PEN World Voices brings together a dazzling line-up of international writers with some of U.S. best-known authors to discuss topics as varied as today’s migrations and changing notions of nation and identity, the planetary threat of environmental degradation, and how literature can help us to better understand our relationship to our own and each other’s homes. Do not miss this unique opportunity to celebrate the rich mix of languages and cultures found in New York City, and the metropolis’s vital link to other nations and people from around the globe. To view a complete schedule of events, visit: http://www.pen.org/festival

PEN_logoPEN American Center is the largest branch of the world’s oldest international human rights and literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 as an association of writers working to advance literature, defend free expression, and foster international literary fellowship, and the 141 PEN centers in 99 countries that together compose International PEN continue that mission today.

Co-presented by The Martin E. Segal Theater Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY in collaboration with Polish Cultural Institute; The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, Theater Without Borders: Translation ThinkTank; Immigrants’ Theatre Project; NoPassport, and The Playwrights’ Center, Minneapolis. Special thanks to the Institut Ramon Llull, the Québec Government, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; The Portuguese Library and Book Institute, The New York Review of Books, and Ledig House.

From Page to Stage I


A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians, by Dorota Maslowska

Dorota Masłowska’s on A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians: “It is a short play, filled with humor and a whole lot of gags. Two really nice protagonists, acting on mysterious impulses, set off on an unintentionally frantic quest through Poland. It is a quest full of comic adventures, which over time turn out to be no joke, quite the opposite in fact, utterly no joke, indeed, quite tragic. The audience has to consider the fact that the play is not as lighthearted as it seems; its characters do not represent positive social or psychological models, and this journey doesn’t have to be a life quest at all. Quite the contrary.”

Dorota Masłowska’s first and so far only theatrical play, Two Poor Romanians Speaking Polish, was commissioned and staged by the TR Warszawa theatre as part of the new theatre’s project called TR/PL, which seeks to develop a dramatic form that corresponds to present-day Poland.

Reading in English, directed by Stephen Willems, Literary Manager/Resident Dramaturg, MCC Theater, New York. Translated by Benjamin Paloff. In collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute and TR Warszawa, Poland. Free and open to the public. No reservations. Co-sponsored by the Martin E. Segal Theater Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Wednesday, April 25th, 6:30 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free. PEN World Voices Festival


Playwrights and novelists Abla Farhoud, Dorota Masłowska, José Luís Peixoto, and Vladimir Sorokin (who join us from Québec, Poland, Portugal, and Russia, respectively) talk about the challenges and exaltation of adapting works to the stage. They discuss what has to happen as the work evolves from a one-on-one conversation between writer and reader to a public performance mediated by actors. This session will also feature readings of excerpts from the participants’ plays.

Thursday, April 26th, 1:00 p.m.- 2:30 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free. PEN World Voices Festival

Dorota Maslowska
Dorota MasLowska

logo PCI


Vladimir Sorokin (Russia) was born on August 7, 1955 in the small town of Bykovo, near Moscow, he made his literary debut in 1972 in the large industrial newspaper Za kadry neftyanikov. Sorokin’s works, bright and striking examples of underground culture, were banned during the Soviet period. His first publication in the USSR appeared in November 1989, when the Riga-based Latvian magazine Rodnik (Spring) presented a group of Sorokin’s stories. In September 2001,Vladimir Sorokin received the National Booker Award; two months later, he was presented with the Award of Andrey Beliy for outstanding contributions to Russian literature.

Abela Farhoud (Lebanon/Québec) was born in Lebanon in 1952 and immigrated to Canada with her family in the 1950s. She worked as an actress in Québec, Lebanon, and France before turning her attention to playwrighting in 1982. Farhoud completed an M.A. from the Université du Québec Montréal in 1985. Her thesis was eventually published as her play Les filles du 5-10-15¢.

Dorota Masłowska (Poland) was born in 1983 in the Polish village of Wejcherowo. Her debut book, Wojna polsko-ruska pod flagą biało-czerwoną (Snow White and Russian Red) won instant acclaim and notoriety, winning the prestigious 2003 Polityka Passport in the literature category for “her personal take on Polish reality and creative use of common language.” The book is now being filmed by noted director Jan Jakub Kolski. Her second novel, The Queen’s Peacock, 2005, won Poland’s highest literary award, the NIKE, a controversial choice over seven other finalists, including Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska. In 2006 Masłowska’s debut play, Two Poor Romanians Speaking Polish, was commissioned and staged by the TR Warsaw theatre. Masłowska has pursued cultural studies at Warsaw University; she currently collaborates with several magazines.

TR WARSZAWA (Poland), formerly Teatr Rozmaitosci in Warsaw, has for decades been one of Poland’s best-known stages. It has secured a reputation as a contemporary theatre open to new ideas while preserving theatrical traditions. TR has made its mark in Europe and won numerous awards at national and international theatre festivals. Poland’s most popular stage directors – Grzegorz Jarzyna (artistic director since 1998, since 2006 also general director) Krzysztof Warlikowski, and Krystian Lupa – as well as the country’s most famous actors, work at TR.

The theatre constantly looks for new forms of theatrical expression, not only in contemporary drama, but also in reinterpretations of classic plays. In the 2005/06 season, TR Warszawa invited its audience to participate in a new project: TR/PL, which as its name suggests has two areas of interest: THEATRE and POLAND. Young playwrights invited to take part in the project were given a task: to describe how the recent political, social and cultural changes in Poland have influenced their way of life and their perception of the reality. In 2006 Maslowska’s text was published in one of the first anthologies of Polish contemporary plays. All the plays in the book were commissioned by the theatre, read on stage, and then published as a part of this project. A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians was then staged by TR Warszawa, directed by Przemyslaw Wojcieszek.

From Page to Stage II

Michel Vinaver
Michael Vinaver


Join us for our second discussion about adapting literary texts to the stage. This time, we feature Patrícia Melo (Brazil), and Michel Vinaver (France) as they explore different perspectives about the process of making private works into public performances. This session will include special readings of excerpts from the participants’ plays.

Thursday, April 26, 2007, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free.


The Interview and High Places by Michel Vinaver

Reading of excerpts in English with American actors directed by Michel Vinaver. High Places translated by Gideon Y. Schein of L’Ordinaire. The Interview is a translation by Marion Schoevaert and Christopher de Haan of La Demande d’Emploi. With Philippa Wehle, moderator (Professor Emeritus of Drama and French, Purchase College, SUNY); Kevin Elstob (CSU, Sacramento, California); Edward Baron Turk (MIT, Boston) and Gideon Lester (Interim Artistic Director, American Repertory Theater; Harvard). Casting by Stephanie Klapper, director of Klapper Casting. The reading will be followed by a moderated discussion. For more info on this program click HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free.


Michel Vinaver (France) was born in Paris in 1927. He had two novels published by Gallimard, in 1950 and 1951, on the recommendation of Albert Camus. In parallel with his business career working for the Gillette Company, he started as a playwright in 1955, never to return to the narrative form. His dramatic works include 18 plays and 7 adaptations or translations, alongside theoretical and critical essays. Upon leaving Gillette, he was appointed professor of Dramatic Studies at Université Paris III and subsequently Paris VIII. Vinaver owes to Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut — which awarded him a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1947 — the revelation of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, which he translated and which has had a never-ending impact on his dramatic writing.

Patrícia Melo (Brazil) was born in 1962. She is a novelist, scriptwriter, and playwright. In 1999 Time magazine included her among their fifty “Latin American Leaders for the New Millennium.” Her third novel, Inferno, was published in 2003, and in the same year Patrícia was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.


Geert Mak & Ian Buruma

Geert Mak is the author of a number of works of nonfiction, including In Europe: A Journey Through the Twentieth Century. As a journalist and historian, he has brought to light the fabric of life in the countryside and cities of many nations around the world. With Ian Buruma, author of Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance, he will discuss Islam and Europe, the effects of immigration, and coming under fire from Dutch neoconservatives.

Thursday, April 26th, 5:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free. PEN World Voices Festival

Voices From Today’s Iran

Participants: Shahriar Mandanipour, Moniru Ravanipur, Goli Taraghi; moderated by Robert Silvers

Join Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, for an exploration of contemporary Iran from the perspectives of some of that country’s most important writers. Goli Taraghi is one of Iran’s most revered and admired authors of short stories and novels. Her titles include I Am Che Guevara Too and Winter Sleep. Shahriar Mandanipour is the author of five collections of short stories. His most recent anthology, Ultramarine Blue, gathers 11 stories that relate in various ways to the events of 9/11. Moniru Ravanipur is the author of eight works of fiction, many set in the remote village in Southern Iran where she was born. A short-story writer and novelist, she was among 17 writers and intellectuals to face trial in Iran because of their participation in the 2000 Berlin Conference.

Saturday, April 28th, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Elebash Recital Hall. Free.

Caryl Phillips & Abdulrazak Gurnah, with Radhika Jones

Critically acclaimed novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah and Caryl Phillips have written many novels about displacement and loss, real lives in fictional guises, and the need to give voice to the silenced. In the forthcoming Foreigners, Caryl Phillips traces a young Nigerian’s terrifying journey to the United Kingdom and eventually to his death at the hands of the police. Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Desertionexplores the legacy of slavery and colonialism in Zanzibar and how the institution complicated that country’s revolution and movement toward independence in the early 1950s. Moderated by Radhika Jones of The Paris Review.

Saturday, April 28th, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Elebash Recital Hall. Free.

From Page to Stage III
Whose Translation is it anyway?


Participants: Koffi Kwahulé, Charles Mulekwa.
The creation and presentation of international theater requires a crossing of linguistic and cultural barriers, and the first step in this process is a good translation. Playwrights and translators will share their experiences with these cross-cultural challenges, and actors will read excerpts from the plays.

Saturday, April 28th, 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Elebash Recital Hall. Free.


A Time of Fire by Charles Mulekwa (Uganda) and Misterioso-119 by Koffi Kwahulé (Ivory Coast)

Readings of excerpts in English of A Time of Fire by Charles Mulekwa (Uganda), directed by Alfred Preisser, Artistic Director, The Classical Theatre of Harlem and Misterioso-119 by Koffi Kwahulé (Ivory Caost), directed by Liesl Tommy (New York), translated by Chantal Bilodeau. With Awam Amkpa, Department of Drama and Acting, Head of Africana Studies, NYU. Followed by a moderated discussion with the playwrights, directors and Laura Edmondson, Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at Dartmouth College, NH.

Saturday, April 28th, 6:30 p.m.
Elebash Recital Hall. Free.


Koffi Kwahule (Ivory Coast) was born in Abengourou (Ivory Coast). He studied at the Institut national des arts in Abidjan, then at the École de la rue Blanche as well as at the Sorbonne nouvelle where he obtained a Ph.D. in theatre studies. He has written fifteen plays, including Cette vieille magie noire, Bintou, Jaz, Big Shoot, P’tite-Souillure, and Misterioso-119.

Charles Mulekwa (Uganda) has been practicing theatre in different roles since 1983, mainly in Uganda, working at the National Theatre from 1992. In 1998/99, the British Council and the Peggy Ramsay Foundation granted him a joint scholarship for an M.A. in Playwriting at Birmingham University, UK, where he wrote the play A Time of Fire. He returned to Uganda and served at the Uganda National Theatre for another five years. In 2003 he earned a Ford Foundation International Fellowship and joined Brown University, Providence, RI where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies. In 2005 he served as the Ugandan Consultant to the Director for the Idi Amin movie The Last King of Scotland. Currently he is working on his thesis: Performing the Legacy of War in Uganda.

Koffi Kwahule
Koffi Kwahule

Charles Mulekwa
Charles Mulekwa