Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Randy Gener Lectures in the U.S., Asia and Europe

In the past year and a half, I have had the pleasure to speak and lecture on a number of subjects in Asia, Europe and the United States.  Frequently I am invited to speak as a panelist or moderator of a panel discussion.  I have helped organize and moderate conferences, symposiums and world congresses.  In one case, I was the featured guest on an hour-long televised cable show.

The themes run the gamut. I have addressed issues and controversies relating U.S. arts and culture. I've lectured on American musicals in an international festival of European operetta.  I've tackled new currents in theater and democracy in the international sphere. A favorite speech of mine concerns the impact of new technology on narrative design. I've given workshops on writing and criticism.  I presented a proposal at a governmental working session and gathering whose purpose was to suggest to the Philippine government ways by which arts and culture can respond to issues of migration and development.

The gig I have always found most satisfying is to give a multimedia lecture on a theme, such as "Secret History of the American Theater" or "Storytelling By Digital Design" (lectures I have frequently given), because this format allows me to sustain and develop the ideas to what frequently amounts as a study course in itself, and the interaction with the audiences tend to be intimate and intense.  

Being interviewed by ABS-CBN reporter at the Nathan Awards ceremony
Whether live or on television, speaking is very much worth it, because it is part of sharing knowledge and expertise.  The venues that have invited me typically break down to three types:
  • Colleges and universities:
    • Martin E. Segal Theatre Center-Graduate Center, CUNY
    • City University of New York
    • Montclair State University
    • University of South Carolina 
    • Brooklyn College;
  • International festivals and arts events in Asia, Europe and the U.S.:
    • Sibiu International Theatre Festival
    • Extraordinary Congress of the IATC in Seoul, South Korea
    • Prague Quadrennial
    • William Inge Theatre Festival
    • Humana Festival of New American Plays
    • New York International Fringe Festival;
  • U.S. corporations, U.S. nonprofit institutions, and foreign cultural institutes:
    • Nuyorican Poets Cafe
    • Hallmark Inc.
    • Dramatists Guild of America
    • New Dramatists
    • Odeon Theatre of Bucharest
    • Romanian Cultural Institute-New York
    • Long Wharf Theatre Company
    • Pan Asian Repertory Theatre
    • The Public Theater
    • La MaMa E.T.C.
    • UNITER, the Romanian Writers Union.
In the interest of summing up an extraordinary year, I've listed below my itinerary of talks from 2010 to 2011.  The schedule, presented in reverse chronological order, starts with the daily gallery talks in Prague and looks back to a memorable trip to India, where I moderated a discussion that was simultaneously translated to me, because half of the papers were delivered in a number of regional Indian languages. (I still keep in contact with the Gujarati people I've met in India and hope to visit them again someday.)  I also listed any press coverage each speaking engagement might have generated. 

If you are interested in engaging me in a lecture, a panel discussion or a presentation, please don't hesitate to contact me.


--> Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space / Prague National Gallery Talks: "From the Edge," the USITT-USA National Exhibition
June 2011 / USITT, Arts Institute-Theatre Institute of Czech Republic, and Veletzrini Palace / Prague, Czech Republic

Nancy Keystone, Justin Townsend and Randy Gener give a gallery talk at USA national pavilion in Prague
Host, Moderator and Curatorial Advisor
Led, with “From the Edge” artistic director Susan Tsu,“a series of gallery talks with renowned U.S. designers at USITT-USA national exhibition, “From the Edge,“ during the 2011 Prague Quadrennial.

The USITT-USA national exhibition celebrates the vital new designs mirroring the socio-political issues consuming American performance makers today. Innovative new works stretch existing definitions of theater and performance while seminal founders and long-standing ensembles are recognized for their far-reaching contributions to the profession. The USA curators have gathered work that we feel is uniquely American yet largely new to the world stage.

Press coverage:
Maricar CP Hampton, "Writing, theater, and always the two shall meet" in The FilAm.
Susan Isorena-Arcega, "Eyeing the Golden Triga" in The Philippine Star.

--> Swedish Theatre Biennial
May 2011 / Swedish Theatre Union and Swedish Institute / Stockholm and Gavle, Sweden

Lecturer / “Global Sweden: Swedish Theatre in the World“
In a seminar that gathers a number of international critics from around the world, Gener delivers a lecture that focuses on instances and productions of Swedish theater in the U.S. He also surveys the evolution of contemporary Swedish drama, dance, circus and performing arts.

Moderator / “Theatre and Democracy: Voices From the Theaters in the World“
Led a seminar featuring Vanessa Cook, artistic leader of the Market Theatre Lab of South Africa; Jessica Kaahwa, an actress and writer from Uganda who gave the message of the World Theatre Day 2011; Ambroise Mbia, an actor and director who heads the Cameroon Center of the International Theatre Institute; and Alexander Kryzhanivskyi of the New Drama Theatre on Pechersk in the Ukraine.
    Press coverage:
    "Drama critic lectures assembly of masters" in Philippine News.
    Cecilia Djurberg, "Kopta kritiker pa natet," an interview in Sveriges Radio (Swedish radio).

    --> Actors Equity Association: "Limitless Casting: Could the Best Man for the Part Be a Woman?"
    March 2011 / Actors’s Equity Association / New York

    In an age when men in drag are commonplace, why are women playing male roles so rare? The Women‘s Committee of Actor Equity‘s Eastern Equal Employment Committee hosted a panel discussion on gender-neutral casting, asking the question “Could the best man for the part be a woman?” Moderated by Gael Schaefer. Other panelists were Deborah Weight Houston (Kings Country Shakespeare Company), Richard Schechter (NYU), Rebecca Patterson (Queen’s Company), Joanne Zipay (Judith Shakespeare Company), Terry Berliner (Director).

    Press coverage:  
    Frank Nestor, "It's a Drag for Women" in Backstage.

    --> Dreaming the Americas: Global Change in Performance
    February 2011 / Nuyorican Poets Cafe and NoPassport / New York

    NoPassport 2011 Conference  | Photo by Joe Luis Cedillo
    Moderator with Otis Ramsey-Zoe / “NoPassport Press Salon: Writing as Metamorphoses“
    A conversation about the global voice in the age of globalization with writers who have newly available play collections: Migdalia Cruz, Karen Hartman, Chiori Miyagawa, Kia Corthron, Linda Faigao-Hall, Catherine Filloux, Carson Kreitzer and Ruth Margraff.

    --> Being Harold Pinter: Under the Radar Festival Post-Performance Discussion with Belarus Free Theater
    January 2011 / The Public Theater and La MaMa E.T.C. / New York

    Belarus Free Theatre is an underground theatre group that began during the second term of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko as an artistic means of resisting Belarusian government pressure and censorship. The discussion focused on the current repressive political system in which the Free Theatre conducts its rehearsals and performances secretly in small private apartments, due to security reasons as well as the risk of persecution and imprisonment.

    Press coverage:
    "The Struggle for a Free Theater | Or 'Long Live Belarus' " in Critical Stages, The IATC Webjournal.

    --> Commission on Filipinos Overseas Conference: "Vision 2020: Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Development"
    December 2010 / Commission on Filipinos Overseas / Manila, Philippines

    Randy Gener on "Solutions of Culture and Education"
    Speaker / “Solutions of Culture and Education: Concerning Second Generation Filipinos Rooted in Philippine Culture”
    Delivered a presentation outlining “solutions that address the culture of migration; keep overseas Filipinos rooted in Filipino culture, and promote education reform given the perspective that whether we like it or not, Filipinos would become global citizens and that the entire globe will be a mobile one.”
    The Commission on Filipinos Overseas is an agency of the Philippine government under the Office of the President which was established on June 16, 1980 through the enactmed on Republic Act 79.

    Press coverage:
    Lilac L. Cana, "Singing for President Noynoy and His Friends" in Philippine Reporter.
    "American Theatre's Randy Gener Receives Presidential Award" in Filipinas Magazine.
    "American Theatre's Randy Gener Conferred Presidential Award" in Pinoy Global Online News.
    "President Aquino Bestows Randy Gener Title 'Legacy of Filipino Nation'" in ArtAct Magazine.

    --> International Festival for Musical Performing Arts
    November 2010 / National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian“ / Bucharest, Romania

    Randy Gener and Michael John LaChiusa at National Operetta Theatre in Bucharest, Romania 
    Organizer and Moderator / “Musical Theatre in the U.S.A.: From Page to Stage”
    Led a conference on American musical theater at the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts, a one-of-kind event in Romania. The conference discussed the elements of what makes a great musical and offers Romanian audiences a glimpse beyond the proscenium into the creative worlds of musical theater writing and musical performance. 

    Organized a delegation of American musical theater artists composed of composer/lyricist/librettist Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again and The Wild Party) and singer/performer/recording artist Jose Llana (Wonderland and Flower Drum Song).

    Press coverage:
    Gabriela Lupu, "Musicaluri despre papanasi si carnati" in Romania Libera.
    Constantina-Gabriela Moateru and Sora Mihaela Eliza, "Life is Beautiful!" in Radio Romania Cultural.
    Maria Zarnescu, "Musical Life Is Beautiful" in Critical Stages, The IATC WebJournal.
    Calin Angheluta, "Festivalul International al Artelor Spectacolului Muzical 'Viata e frumoasa'" in Agentia AmosNews.

      --> Stepping Out of Bounds: New Play Development from an International and National Perspective
      October 2010 / Lark Play Development Center / New York, NY

      Participated in an informal roundtable discussion with 8 playwrights of the Lark Play Development Center, along with artistic producers and international artists Katja Heiminga, Kate Loewald, Amy Mueller and Janice Poon. Moderated by Lisa Rothe.

        --> Perspectives on Criticism
        August 2010 / DC Theatre Scene and Woolly Mammoth Theatre / Washington, D.C.

        Guest Speaker
        Led a seminar and workshop given to 20 online critics and regular reviewers of DC Theatre Scene, Washington‘s liveliest theater website. How does/can/should a critic weight the value of powerful description with that of subjective candor? Is there poetry to be found in creativity? Or are the best reviews the most overtly/strongly opinionated.

        --> IATC World Congress: "Re-Defining Femininity in Today's Theater"
        June 2010 / International Association of Theater Critics (IATC) and Armenian Center of the International Theatre Institute / Yerevan, Armenia

        IATC Thalia Prize winner Richard Schechner and Randy Gener at IATC World Congress in Armenia
        Organizer and Moderator with Margareta Sorenson (Sweden) and Jean-Pierre Han (France)
        Organized and moderated a world congress of scholars and theater critics from France, Canada, Quebec, India, Korea, Japan, Lithuania, Greece, Iran, Hungary, Latvia and the USA, each one offering fresh perspectives on the roles of memory, politcs, gender, class, race and family. The concept of femininity seeks in today‘s theater its own place, language, identity and expression. In the 21st century, it has reemerged as a creative issue. Can we characterize and explain the various phenomena of this 21st century concept of femininity?
          Speaker / On Women and War: Lynn Nottage’s “Ruined”
          Delivered a paper on Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-winning play, published in Critical Stages, The IATC Web journal.

          --> How Are Playwrights Relevant in Today's World?
          May 2010 / Smith & Kraus Publishers and Drama Book Shop / NYC

          Smith & Kraus, publisher of essential books for the theater community brings together some of America’s leading playwrights and writers. Other panelists were playwright Theresa Rebeck, author Alexis Greene, Hunter College theater department chair Jonathan Kalb, and Yale Drama School and American Repertory Theater founder Robert Brustein.

          --> Koltés in America: The International Koltés Symposium
          April 2010 / Alliances Française d’Atlanta and 7Stages Theatre / Atlanta, GA

          Moderator / “The International Koltés Symposium“
          Five artists and scholars present their work on Bernard-Marie Koltés followed by a discussion and q&a. Featured were Koltes director Jean de Pangé, Koltés director Philip Boulay, University of Metz linguist Andre Petitjean, Koltés translator Maria Delgado, Witness Relocation artistic director Dan Safer.

          Press coverage
          "In Atlanta, Krumping to the Future of the Koltés Project" in TCG Circle.
          "Koltés in Atlanta," American Theatre.
          "The Koltés Mystique" in American Theatre.

          --> CUNY-TV Live Taping of "Conversations with William Hoffman"
          March 2010 / The Journalism, Communication, Theatre Department of Lehman College / Bronx, NY

          Featured TV Guest
          An hour-long televised series of discussions “with major theater and musical figures of our times” broadcast regularly on CUNY-TV, Channel 75. Our conversation aired in two parts in spring 2011.

            --> International Conference of the Indian Society for Theatre Research
            January 2010 / Indian Society for Theatre Research, International Federation for Theatre Research and Post Graduate Department of Hindi at Sardar Patel University / Gujarat, India

            At Sardar Patel University in Gujarat, India
            Moderator / “Indian Theatre: Regional, National and International Perspectives”
            Moderated two seminars focusing on contemporary Indian theatre from regional, national and perspectives. The conference also addressed the diverse and multiple nature of Indian theater criticism, its present position, and its required and essential new directions.
              Lecturer / “Storytelling By Digital Design: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create Theatre”
              The idea that hyper-mediated practices challenge the authority normally vested in a text is a long-accepted avant-garde trope. But this notion is merely grist in contemporary theatre where rapid developments in animation, video game and computer technologies have profoundly affected the domain of narrative, story architecture and performance design.

                Thursday, August 18, 2011

                Randy Gener Publishes in the Iranian City of Tehran

                TEHRAN, IRAN:   Randy Gener's essay, "Reorientalism," about the emergence of a new category of Middle East-American drama in the U.S., has been published in a new anthology of critical essays and scholarly articles as part of an annual festival held in the Iranian capital city of Tehran.

                Released in three languages (English, Persian and French), the book, entitled "About the Phenomenon of Theatre," was published by Namayesh, a state subsidized theater magazine in Iran.  It was compiled by Nasrollah Ghaderi, in cooperation with Katayoon Hussein zadeh and Ali Najafi.

                "About the Phenomenon of Theatre" was officially released in February 2011 during the 29th edition of the Fajr International Theatre Festival where a majority of the awards went to Iran, Germany, Italy and Estonia.  The book was then distributed during the 2011 edition of the Europe Theatre Prize, which took place in St. Petersburg in Russia.

                In an interview with the Iran Book News Agency, Katayoon Hussein zadeh describes the anthology's main thrust: "Most of the articles are about documentary theatre, political theatre, the formation of political theatre and its process. Every writer has presented his work according to the art in his country. The article's analytic information is incredible. Such a kind of book was not released in Iran so far."

                Moreover she said that distributing the book during the awarding ceremonies of the European Theater Prize (Premio Europa) in St. Petersburg was an opportunity for an international audience to appreciate the high-quality of critical essays being published in Iran today.

                The book is divided into English and French sections. The English section included such essays as:
                • "Idioms of South Asian Theater" by Abhi Subedi;
                • "At the Crossroads" by Andrzej Zurowski, about Polish theater;
                • "The theatre and economics, the British experience" by John Elsom;
                • "Chinese women's liberation road on the stage" by Dr. Zhu Ning;
                • "Enchanted by the BRAVE festival" by Kalina Stefanova of Bulgaria;
                • "Slovenian drama as the globalization's litmus test" by Kristof Jacek kozak;
                • "The importance of being obedient" by the Finnish critic Matti Linnavuori;
                • "Where is the emerging point in today's Swedish performing arts" by Margareta Sorenson;
                • "The Barbican international theatre event in London" by Maria Shevtsova
                • "The national theatre of Scotland, a theatre without walls" by Mark Brown
                • "Theatre of revolution-history, theatre, document and life" by Petr Christov of the Czech Republic;
                • "Two Lithuanian Hamlets: The metaphysics of ice and mirrors" by Ramune Marcinkeviciute;
                • "Reorientalism," a critical essay about the emergence of Arab-American theater voices, by Randy Gener of the USA;
                • "Who will be the king or directors' merciless fight for power against playwright in the European theatre" by Sanja Nikcevic of Croatia;
                • "National critics and the postmodern world: bridging the gap" by Savas Patsalidis of Greece;
                • "The community sensitive theatre maker" by Tamas Jaszay;
                • "Contemporary performance or whatever happened to the performative revolution" by Tomaz Toporisic;
                • "The burden of existence" by Tomasz Milkowski of Poland;
                • "The critical reception of Eastern/ Central European theater in Korea since 1989 by Yun-Cheol Kim of South Korea; and
                • "European theatre 2000-2010" by Ian Herbert of the U.K.
                Gener's essay, "Reorientalism," greatly expands on an initial report he had written in 2010 about San Francisco's ReOrient Festival at Theatre Artaud in San Francisco, organized by Golden Thread Productions. At the time of this festival, President Barack Obama gave an Afghanistan war speech at West Point that left many Americans feeling deja vu all over again. "I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," the president said. The rest of Obama's speech suggested that  U.S. interests, its means and its responsibilities are finite in Afghanistan, but they do exist. As Obama put it, "We simply can't afford to ignore the price of these wars."

                Using Obama's history-in-the-making war speech, "Reorientalism" offers a critical context on the emergence of a new genre of Middle Eastern-American drama in the U.S. and surveys in more comprehensive depth the new voices, ensembles and theater companies that have represented that specific immigrant community. (A shorter version of this essay had appeared in the March 2010 issue of American Theatre magazine.)

                During this year's event, the Fajr International Theatre Festival presented about 153 performances by Iranian and 3 international ensembles.  Iranian performers put on stage some 137 works from different cities including Mashhad, Karaj, Kermanshah, Varamin, Sanandaj, Isfahan, Tabriz, Lahijan, Sari and Yazd.

                Groups from Italy, the Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland, China, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Greece, Poland and Estonia also participated in the festival. The 2011 Fajr International Theater Festival was held from February 5 to 20 in the Iranian provinces of Alborz, Tehran, Gilan, Golestan and North Khorasan.

                Iran holds international Fajr film, theater, music and visual arts festivals on a yearly basis to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.