WMU News

Controversial theater director visits WMU

Nov. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO--A theater director and translator, who recently stepped into the maelstrom of French-American relations by producing several French plays critical of both the United States' and European countries' attitudes toward outsiders, comes to the Western Michigan University campus this month as a visiting artist.

Doris Mirescu, co-artistic director of the New York-based companies WaxFactory and the newly formed Dangerous Ground Productions Inc., will offer a public presentation on her work at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, in the Lee Honors College lounge. The event, made possible through WMU's Visiting Scholars and Artists Program, is free and open to the public.

Mirescu directed and co-produced a run of four newly translated plays by contemporary French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltes in New York during the height of strained relations between the United States and France over the invasion of Iraq.

In the plays, Koltes, who lived in and wrote about New York, dying there of AIDS in 1989, is highly critical of the way the United States and European nations treat such outsiders as minorities, gays and immigrants. The plays were financed in part by a grant from a French-American fund for the performing arts that obtains some of its funding from the French government.

During her campus visit, Mirescu will discuss her project of commissioning new translations of works by Koltes and staging them last summer. Her presentation will include video clips and performance.

Though her recent work centers on the French playwright Koltes, Mirescu was actually born in Romania and fled to Switzerland with her mother when she was 3. But she never felt at home in the country, so when she finished high school, she moved to Paris where she studied literature and fell in love with Latin and with American films. She became a translator of American dramas performed in France and eventually moved to New York to obtain a master's degree in theatre at Columbia University.

In New York, she developed both an affinity and aversion to America for what she saw as its artistic freedom on one hand and its callousness on the other. She found a kindred spirit expressed in Koltes' plays.

"The image of the American landscape always had a pull on me, as it did on Koltes," Mirescu says in a recent New York Times article. "There is a wildness to it, a darkness. It brings with it violence, passion and also freedom."

The Visiting Scholars and Artists Program at WMU was established in 1960 and has supported more than 500 visits by scholars and artists representing some 65 academic disciplines. The chairperson of the committee that oversees the program is Carol Bennett, instructor in the Department of Business Information Systems.

Mirescu's visit is coordinated by the WMU Foreign Languages Department. For more information, call Cynthia Running-Johnson at (269) 387-3021.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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