the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY,
HELENA MODJESKA (POLAND/US):
COMMEMORATING A 19TH-CENTURY AMERICAN THEATER ICON
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street), New York, NY
Tickets: free, Tel: 212.817.1860
American theater icon,
utopian pioneer, national celebrity,
a woman ahead of her time,
on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of her death
The Polish Cultural Institute commemorates Helena Modjeska - an iconic Polish-American Shakespearean actress of the 19th century - on the occasion of the centennial of her death. From humble origins, Modjeska became a dominant force in Polish theater and a star of Warsaw high society. For reasons both political and personal she left Poland together with her aristocrat husband and founded a utopian community in California. The immigrant actress was considered by many American critics to be the best American female Shakespearean of her generation, a one-woman theatrical institution comparable only to the great Edwin Booth in her achievements. Truly a woman ahead of her time, godmother to both Ethel Barrymore and Witkacy, Modjeska's fame and impact extended well beyond her status as a Shakespearean actress. Susan Sontag's award-winning 1999 novel, In America is based on Modjeska's extraordinary life.
On April 8, 100 years to the day after Modjeska's death, distinguished scholars and Modjeska biographers will discuss her life and work at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, CUNY Graduate Center, in a conversation moderated by Prof. Daniel Gerould, the Center's director. Prof. Andrzej Zurowski, a leading Polish Shakespeare scholar, and Prof. Beth Holmgren of Duke University will explore Modjeska's life from contrasting theater-historical and feminist perspectives. The discussion will be accompanied by the trailer for a forthcoming documentary on Modjeska.
Unveiling of the Helena Modjeska Memorial Plaque
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