American University of Beirut

Lecture Series

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​"Troublesome Women: Feminist Vision and Greek Drama" by Ellen McLaughlin

March 5, 2019

Ellen McLaughlin is an award-winning playwright and performer, known for playing the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America during its original run on Broadway. She has taught playwriting at Barnard College​ since 1995, and has held teaching posts at Breadloaf ​School of English, Yale Drama School, and Princeton University,​​ among others. Her playsThe Trojan Women, Helen, and Penelope are among many that reflect her great interest in Greek drama and its women characters​. In this lecture she talks about the compelling women of Greek plays, their vitality, complexity, and spoken truths. 

​The Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant and Sentence to Hope book-launch discussion by Nada Saab and Robert Myers 

​February 27, 2019

​Collaborators Nada Saab (LAU) and Robert Myers (AUB) introduce their books Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant: A Critical Anthology and Sentence to Hope: A Sa'dallah Wannous Reader. They cover the history of their collaboration, provide a context for the plays in the books, and share the process of translating them from Arabic to English.The discussion is followed by short readings from the plays Baghdadi Bath by Jawad Al Assadi and Rituals of Signs and Transformations by Sa'dallah Wannous.​

“Making Theater and Changing Society: How Tectonic Transformed Performance and Rewrote the Law" by Philipe Abi Youness

February 21, 2019

Philipe Abi Youness, playwright, performer, and Moment Work teaching artist, joined us to offer a lecture on the history and impact of Tectonic Theater Project. This award-winning, Manhattan-based theater company was behind such rigorous, form-breaking plays as The Laramie Project, 33 Variations, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, and I Am My Own Wife. Through their trademarked method of theater-making, Moment Work, Tectonic is challenging the traditional text-centric approach to play-making by providing an inherently theatrical language and methodology for writing performance. This lecture takes up the philosophy, history, and process of Tectonic Theater Project in dialogue with their sprawling socio-economic impact in the U.S. and elsewhere. TTP's work is always in conversation with the zeitgeist and has contributed to national dialogues that led to historic action in favor of LGBTQ rights and anti-hate crime legislation. How does working in an egalitarian and theatrical language contribute to our ongoing pursuit of collective equality on a larger scale? How might it work here and elsewhere in the world? This lecture excavates the work of a revolutionary American theater company that redefines the dramatic form and is a pioneer in art for social justice.

​​"Theater Experiments: How the Marriage of Philosophy and Performance Helped Create Harvard's Program in Theater, Dance and Media" by Martin Puchner

​​​February 6, 2018​

​Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. ​​He is the prize-winning author of a dozen books and anthologies and over ​sixty articles and essays, including the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Masterpieces of World Literature, and The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization. He established the Harvard program in theater, dance and media, which offers a range of courses focused on the performing arts and performance-based media. Puchner's lecture is about the union of philosophy and performance within the program. 

​"Contemporary Theatre in Lebanon" with Sahar Assaf, Peter Eckersall, and Frank Hentschker

​October 17, 2017

​Theater Initiative's Sahar Assaf presents a talk at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (MESTC) in New York about contemporary theater in Lebanon. The presentation is followed by an excerpt from her production, No Demand No Supply​and a panel discussion with Assaf; Frank Hentschker, Director of MESTC; Peter Eckersall,​ Associate Director of MESTC; and Marvin Carlson, The Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY). ​​

​​“American Playwriting in the Trump Era" by Donald Margulies

April 28, 2017​

American playwright, Donald Margulies, was invited to give a lecture at AUB in conjunction with the premiere of the first Arabic adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Dinner with Friends. Margulies's works include An Entertainment, Brooklyn Boy, Tony Award-nominated Time Stands Still, and Obie Award-winning The Model Apartment. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, most recently the 2015 William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater. Other literary endeavors include screenwriting for television networks such as HBO, CBS, and Showtime. He is also a Professor of English and Theater Studies at Yale University. In this public lecture, he shares his coming of age in the American Theater and provides anecdotal insight into the art of playwriting. ​

"The Challenge of Shakespeare" by Simon Palfrey

October 3, 2016​​

​Simon Palfrey talks about Shakespeare's vivacious use of ​language with focus on scenes and dialogue from King Lear. The talk explores the ethical and political implications of Shakespeare's dramatic forms, the kinds of attention they demand, and the possibilities and life generated from Shakespea​rean multiplicity. Simon Palfrey is a Professor of English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford University. His books include Doing Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Parts (with Tiffany Stern), Shakespeare's Possible Worlds, Poor Tom: Living King Lear, and the critical fiction, Macbeth, Macbeth (with Ewan Fernie). ​​

“The Actor Beyond Words: Developing Intercultural Performance" by Michael Devine

February 17, 2016

Michael Devine is a trained actor, director, playwright, essayist, and Professor of Theater at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has directed over forty productions in nine languages, hosted by theaters across the world. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Alternative Theatre Training (CATT), an actor training intensive which takes place annually in Europe. In this lecture, Devine describes techniques and approaches to developing an intercultural actor that is expressively and stylistically effective in any cultural setting. He explains the four expressive performance vocabularies implemented by BoxWhatBox. BWB is Devine's performance workshop that teaches fluid, free, and uninhibited expression.​

“Mind the Gap: Dramatizing the Space Between the Arab and the American" by Michael Malek Najjar

December 2, 2015

Arab American Drama has its roots in the early diasporic writings of Lebanese poet/playwrights Kahlil Gibran, Ameen Rihani, and Mikhail Naimy. Through the twentieth, and into the twenty-first century, Americans of Arab descent have written, and performed in, plays that seek to understand the precarious exigency of bridging the divide between Arabness and what it means to be American. The latest generation of playwrights and performers, whose Arab roots are traced to multiple Arab countries, have created plays that address the personal and political struggles Arab Americans face living in a time of governmental persecution, anti-Arab prejudice, and Orientalized media portrayals. This public lecture by the author of Arab American Drama, Film and Performance: A Critical Study, 1908 to the Present addresses the rich history of Arab American drama and how these playwrights are struggling to subvert notions of Arabophobia, Islamophobia, and fear of the Arab “Other" in American culture and media.​

​​"Dramatizing Resistence: Saadallah Wannous and ​the State of contemporary Arab Theatre," Panel with Sahar Assaf, Riad Ismat, Nabeel Khoury, Nada Saab, and Robert Myers

​March 10, 2014​

The panel discussion was held at the Silk Road Rising theater in Chicago and engaged the theatrical legacy ​of the late Syrian playwright, Sa'dallah Wannous, with focus on the intent to politicize theatergoers. Panelists included ​Director Sah​ar Assaf (AUB); former Syrian Minister of Culture, Riad Ismat; Senior Fellow for Middle East and National Security, Nabeel Khoury (Chicago Council on Global Affairs); Professor Robert Myers (A​UB); and Professor Nada Saab (LAU). The panel was moderated by Silk Road Rising Artistic Director, Jamil Khoury.​

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