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Theatre Arts Faculty Present at the ATHE Conference

Contributed by Walter Chon on 08/07/20 

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Saviana Stanescu (Associate Professor of Playwriting and Theatre Studies), Courtney Young (Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre and Dance), and Walter Byongsok Chon (Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy and Theatre Studies) present at the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference, which was held virtually from July 20 to August 1. 

 Saviana Stanescu (Condeescu) organized and coordinated the panel “Drama Across Borders - International Theatre Exchange.” The presenters talked about personal experiences of working in various countries or in the US - as playwrights, directors, curators, etc - on theatre projects involving international artists and cross-cultural translation/collaboration. Joan Appell Lipkin, Producing Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company discussed her work in Belgrade and Sarajevo, writing and directing a play focused on LGBTQ+ issues in the Balkans. African-American playwright Michael Bradford, Artistic Director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre, talked about his residency in Granada, Spain, working on a play about the death of poet Federico García Lorca. Patrizia Acerra, founding and executive director of International Voices Project in Chicago, elaborated on her experience of curating and producing a festival of international plays in translation, as well as directing international plays. Saviana Stanescu spoke about writing and developing "The Revolution Project" - an original play about the Romanian revolution against the totalitarian system of dictator Ceaușescu - during her sabbatical semester in Bucharest, and the experience of going back to the sites where she protested as a college student committed to freedom of expression and social justice.

Courtney Young presented at the panel “Broadway Training Paths.” She was joined by J. Ellen Gainor (Cornell University) and Adrienne Oehlers (Ohio State University). Young explored existing musical theatre training curriculum across the nation as it intersects with the industry these young artists enter upon graduation.  She asked the questions, “Have training programs remained current with industry needs? Do they adequately prepare students for professional success in the twenty-first century?” Through surveys of current MT faculty, theatre professionals, and recent alumni of leading MT programs, Young explored the cogency of current curricula and suggested strategic pedagogical shifts for today’s professional expectations and demands.

Walter Byongsok Chon coordinated and presented at the panel “What's Driving New Translations? Presentations and Perspectives from Translators of Multiple Languages” and presented at the panels “Energizing Texts and Bridging Communities: Multilingual Performance, Translation and Transcultural Dramaturgy” and “Tenure and Promotion for Dramaturgs and Playwrights.” In his translation panels, he was joined by Eunice S. Ferreira (Skidmore College), Ana Carneiro (Amherst College), Manuel Francisco Viveros (University of Louisville), Daniel Smith (Michigan State University), “C” Heaps (Kalamazoo College), and Joseph Megel (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). He presented an excerpt of his new English translation of the Korean play The Wind’s Desire (2007) by Myung-Wha Kim, and explored the following questions. Does a theatrical translation need the right identities to tell the story authentically and truthfully? In a different cultural context with performers of different identities, ethnicities, and cultural heritage from the roles, what kind of artistic interpretations can emerge? Once the translation is produced in a different cultural context with different identities from the roles, whose story does it become? Can the story be expanded to embrace the multicultural context and bodies? He advocates that translations can open up artistic and pedagogical possibilities by diversifying stories and forms of storytelling.   

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