THE OVEN

Fri. & Sat. July 13-14 at 8pm, Sunday July 15 at 1:30 pm
PLEASE NOTE NON-STANDARD SUNDAY PERFORMANCE TIME!

Written and performed by ILAN STAVANS
Directed by MATTHEW GLASSMAN
Lighting by SABRINA HAMILTON

After a chance meeting with a shaman in Colombia, Ilan Stavans, the highly regarded literary scholar, found himself in the Amazon rainforest. He had reluctantly agreed to participate in a religious ceremony that involved taking the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Even though he considered himself a skeptic and a rational intellectual, as someone whose worldview was defined by his education and his heritage as a Mexican Jew, Stavans found that the ritual pushed him to reconsider many of his basic understandings, including his perceptions of indigenous cultures in Latin America, as well as his career as teacher, thinker, and artist.

This one-act play is delivered in the form of a lecture that mimics the author’s startling spiritual journey.

BUZZ ON THE OVEN

“How does a mild-mannered scholar/writer/professor become a jaguar, kill and eat a deer? I got to witness Ilan Stavans’ re-immersion into what happened to him, telling and showing the audience his impulsive and, transformative journey into the dark Columbian night. He finished the performance shirtless and soaked with sweat. I drove home, filled with the knowledge that there are so many worlds in our world and “reality” is, indeed, a shifting and terrifying place. And how the theater, in the hands of a great story and good actor, can give reality a good shake.”—Connie Congdon, author of Tales of the Lost Formicans

“Ilan Stavans’ wonderful The Oven is a daring reveal of his deep dive into another culture, told with humor, poignancy, and excitement. His self-effacement and emotional awareness pokes holes at academic stuffiness. He is fully in it, and brings his audience along on this spiritual journey both of the shamanic tradition he visits in Latin America and his own deep Jewish heritage.”—Stacy Klein, founder and director, Double Edge Theatre

“Ilan Stavans is one of today’s most prolific shapers of Latinx letters, in his scholarly and creative work, and both are realized in this hybrid project. The Oven innovates in content and form. It offers a penetrating look behind the façade of our existence, in a non-appropriative way; Stavans is always conscious of his outsider/cosmopolitan status. It will certainly stimulate much critical and creative conversation and scholarship.”—Frederick Luis Aldama, author of Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands and editor of The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Popular Culture

“A compelling piece of stagecraft that documents the inner and outer workings of a mind on a narcotic trip, but it also documents the uncanny and serendipitous curiosity of a literature professor.”—William A. Nericcio, editor of Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck’s Enduring Voice for California

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

ILAN STAVANS (Author/Performer) one of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators, is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.

A native from Mexico, he received his Doctorate in Latin American Literature from Columbia University. His work, adapted to radio, TV, and film has been translated into fifteen languages. He himself has translated Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda into English, Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson into Spanish, Isaac Bashevis Singer from the Yiddish, Yehuda Halevi from the Hebrew, and Don Quixote into Spanglish.

Stavans’ books include The Hispanic Condition (HarperCollins, 1995), On Borrowed Words (Viking, 2001), Spanglish (HarperCollins, 2003), Dictionary Days(Graywolf, 2005), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly, 2006), Love and Language (Yale, 2007), Resurrecting Hebrew (Nextbook, 2008), Mr. Spic Goes to Washington(Soft Skull, 2008), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave, 2010).

He has edited The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (Oxford, 1998), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories (3 vols., Library of America, 2004), The Schocken Book of Sephardic Literature (Schocken, 2005), Cesar Chavez: An Organizer’s Tale (Penguin, 2008), Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing (Library of America, 2009), With All Thine Heart (Rutgers, 2010), The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (W.W. Norton, 2010), and The FSG Books of 20th-Century Latin American Poetry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

His play The Disappearance, performed by the theater troupe Double Edge, premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and has been shown throughout the world. His story “Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah (2007), produced by John Sayles. Stavans has received numerous awards and honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the International Latino Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Southwest Children Book of the Year Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Book Award, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the Rubén Darío Distinction, a nomination for the Marfield Prize (aka National Award for Arts Writing), and the Cátedra Roberto Bolaño.

He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans (2001-2006). His most recent books are, as translator, Juan Rulfo’s The Plain in Flames (Texas, 2012), Pablo Neruda’s All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013), Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs (Norton, 2014), and Lazarillo de Tormes (Norton, 2015), and, as author, Return to Centro Histórico: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots (Rutgers, 2012), the graphic novel El Iluminado (Basic, 2012, with Steve Sheinkin), and the children’s book Golemito (New South), and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States (Basic, 2014), Reclaiming Travel (Duke, 2015, with Joshua Ellison), and Quixote: The Novel and The World (Norton, 2015). The fotonovela Once @ 9:53am: Terror in Buenos Aires(Dimayot/PSUP, with Marcelo Brodsky), Oy, Caramba!: An Anthology of Jewish Stories from Latin America (New Mexico), and Borges, the Jew (SUNY) appeared in 2016.

Stavans’ new books, all scheduled for 2018, are The Seventh Heaven: Travels through Jewish Latin America, the one-man play The Oven (Norton), Latinos in the United States: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press), The Wall (Pitt Poetry Series), Sor Juana: or, The Persistence of Pop (University of Arizona Press), Angelitos: A Graphic Novel (Ohio University Press), and Don Quixote in Spanglish (Penn State University Press).

He is the publisher of Restless Books (http://www.restlessbooks.com/), co-founder and Academic Director at Large of the Great Books Summer Program (http://www.greatbookssummer.com/), host of the NPR podcast In Contrast (http://nepr.net/term/contrast-podcast#stream/0), and a columnist for the New York Times en Español.

MATTHEW GLASSMAN (Director) began working with Double Edge Theatre in 2000. He is currently C0-Artistic Director and an Ensemble member. He recently worked on Double Edge’s newest indoor performance Leonora and Alejandro: La Maga y el Maestro, which premiered in March 2018 at Peak Performances at Montclair State University. At Double Edge, he also co-created Once a Blue Moon – Cada Luna Azul, based on Latin American story, music and dance. Originally created as a Farm Spectacle, the piece proceeded to tour to urban centers and include parades and youth performers in Boston and Springfield. Glassman also co-created The Grand Parade, which premiered at Arena Stage (Washington, DC) in February 2013, and toured throughout the US, as well as to Moscow and Norway. He co-created Double Edge’s Garden of Intimacy and Desire cycle in leading acting roles. In Republic of Dreams, based on the work of Polish-Jewish artist Bruno Schulz, Glassman developed the role of Joseph/Bruno Schulz. Additionally, he created the role of Sancho Panza in the UnPOSSESSED, which premiered at La MaMa ETC (2004).

As a director, Glassman has worked on Total Verruckt!, a solo performance created and performed by Joanna Caplan which has toured in the US and Canada. Glassman has also written Double Edge summer spectacles Shahrazad 2014 and Once a Blue Moon – Cada Luna Azul and created scenes in the Ashfield Town Spectacle.

In 2016, Glassman co-curated the Art and Survival Convening in partnership with KoFest alum, Nick Slie (Mondo Bizarro). Hosted by Double Edge Theatre, the Convening gathered artists and change-makers from around the US for a 2-day reflection on the inner workings of artistic practice and its impact on culture and movement building. Glassman served on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, co-leads the National Rural Arts & Culture Working group, and is a Howlround Advisor. He has served as a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Glassman has led training for workshops at Columbia College, Emerson College, UMASS Amherst, NYU, Columbia University, Boston University, University of Georgia, MIT, Trinity College, The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and others. He has worked extensively in elementary schools throughout New England under National and State Arts in Education and was awarded the Mary Lyon Foundation “Spirit of Adventure Award” for innovative support of local education.

SABRINA HAMILTON (Lighting Design) co-founded and is the Artistic Director of the Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, MA. For many years she worked with the New York theatre company Mabou Mines as Lighting Designer, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Performer, and Assistant Director. Other credits include work at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Goodman Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and 6 years as Route Lighting Designer for New York’s Village Halloween Parade under the direction of Ralph Lee. International lighting credits include work in Berlin, Bologna, Florence, Milan, London, Grenada, Geneva, Nuremburg, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, at the Bristol Old Vic, the Theatre Academy in Tampere, Finland, and at the International Theatre Festival in Havana, Cuba. She has spent much of the past several years touring with Sandglass Theater. as the lighting designer for their production of D-GENERATION: An Exaltation of Larks, the show that closed Ko’s season on “Age & Aging.”

Sabrina’s directing work, primarily original pieces, has been seen in New York, Berlin and throughout New England. She directed CRAVINGS: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, that premiered at the 2008 Ko Festival and then went on on to a three-week, sold-out run at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA, where it garnered a  nomination for an IRNE Award.  Other directing  credits include, INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS, the show that will close Ko’s 2018 season.

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