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New collaborative brings Romanian culture, scholars to Arizona

Matei Vişniec
November 03, 2011

The play “Pockets of Bread,” written by internationally known Romanian playwright and poet, Matei Vişniec, will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 5-6 at the Empty Space Theatre housed in the Performing and Media Arts building, 970 E. University Drive, Tempe. The performance, presented by Arizona State University’s Romanian studies program is free and open to the public.

Romanian actor Dragoş Pop, who visits ASU annually for performances, is the director of “Pockets of Bread.” He is also starring in the play, along with ASU associate professor of theatre and film, Lance Gharavi.

In addition to English and Romanian studies, sponsors of the performances include the ASU Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, the ASU School of International Letters and Cultures, the ASU School of Letters and Sciences, the ASU Institute for Humanities Research, the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the ASU School of Theatre and Film, the Honorary Consulate General of Romania in Arizona, the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, and the Consulate General of Romania in Los Angeles.

Vişniec will give two lectures during his week-long stay at ASU: “How to Become a Good Writer in a Foreign Language” from noon to 1:15 p.m., Nov. 9  in Social Sciences room 226, and “Metaphor and Political Theatre: Between East and West” from noon to 1:15 p.m., Nov. 10, in Social Sciences, room 105. Both lectures are free of charge and open to the public.

These events are part of the launch of the Central European Cultural Collaborative (CECC). The Romanian studies program in the School of International Letters and Cultures and the Department of English have partnered to create the CECC, which will serve as a bridge between Romania and Arizona – and in time, several other countries in the region – to create a mutually beneficial environment fostering the exchange of art, culture and scholarly pursuits.

“These efforts are part of a larger commitment to offer faculty and students opportunities for global engagement, a pressing and significant move on the part of the Department of English,” says Maureen Daly Goggin, professor and chair of English.

While the collaboration is new, Romanian culture has been a part of ASU for several years now, thanks to Ileana Orlich, who is a professor of Romanian studies and English, the 2011 Parent’s Professor of the Year, and the Honorary Consul General of Romania in Arizona.

The Romanian studies program annually hosts guest lecturers and performances, including traditional puppet shows. One hundred fifty students are enrolled in Romanian language courses, sixty in undergraduate and graduate cultural courses (which are often cross-listed as English, Political Science, Religious Studies, Cultural Geography or History classes), and there’s a summer study abroad program (led by none other than Orlich) to Romania and other Central European countries. The trip highlights Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; Bratislava, Slovakia; the medieval castles and towns of Transylvania, Romania; the monasteries of Moldova; and the Black Sea. The summer program offers a broad range of classes at undergraduate and graduate levels, taught by Orlich and professors within the countries themselves.

For more information on the CECC launch performances and lectures, please visit

Written by Deanna Stover

Media contact:
Kristen LaRue,