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Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre Presents The Fornés Festival

Notre Dame's Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT) announces The Fornés Festival, a series of staged play readings and academic engagement events celebrating the legacy of the prolific Cuban American playwright María Irene Fornés (1930-2018), in the Philbin Studio Theatre at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, October 2 through October 13.

Curated by FTT professor Anne García-Romero, a former student of Fornés, The Fornés Festival will present staged readings of four of Fornés' most notable works in conjunction with the national Celebrando Fornés/Celebrating Fornés 2019-2020 initiative, a year-long event that seeks to raise awareness of Fornés' impact on theatre and preserve the legacy of her work.

"The format of The Fornés Festival, semi-staged readings instead of full productions, is unique for us and our audiences," says Director of Theatre Kevin Dreyer. "It gives us the ability to share more of Fornés' writing than would be possible in a single production."

In Fefu and her Friends (1977), eight women meet in the New England home of Fefu to rehearse for an educational fundraiser. The play morphs into an environmentally staged look into the intimate lives and relationships of these women. Winner of the 1977 Obie Award for Playwriting, Fefu and Her Friends explores complex feminism in the early 20th century. Guest artist Stacy Stoltz will direct.

Winner of the 1984 Obie Award for Playwriting, Mud (1983) delves into one woman's desire for education against all odds. Mae lives with Lloyd in considerable rural poverty, but she attends classes and is committed to learning to read. FTT faculty member Carys Kresny directs.

In The Conduct of Life (1986), Orlando, a sadistic army lieutenant, lives with his older wife, Leticia, and their servant, Olimpia, in a private home in an unidentified Latin American country. Winner of the 1985 Obie Award for Best New American play, The Conduct of Life investigates the brutality of a dictatorship and its oppression of women. FTT professor Anton Juan will direct.

In London in 1891, Elizabeth Robins, a celebrated American actress, and her friend, Marion Lea, a well-known British actress, clamor at the possibility of performing in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. Based on a true story, The Summer in Gossensass (1997) offers meditations on Ibsen's classic play, the craft of acting, and a life in the theatre. Guest artist Mary Beth Fisher will direct.

The festival will also include a screening of the award-winning documentary portrait of Fornés, The Rest I Make Up (2018), directed by Michelle Memran, in the Browning Cinema.

"María Irene Fornés was one of the most important 20th century American dramatists," says García-Romero, "and I'm thrilled that Notre Dame is joining this national initiative to celebrate her legacy."


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