DENTON (UNT), Texas ¾ Award-winning playwright and director Moisés Kaufman will serve as 2017-18 artist-in-residence for the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts at the University of North Texas, bringing in the collaborative process that he created for such plays as “The Laramie Project.”
Kaufman will visit UNT Jan. 16-27 and April 2-13, with a public reception scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 (Friday) at UNT on the Square.
He will work with students in the Department of Dance and Theatre to create a new piece for the stage inspired by author Jorge Luis Borges, known for his surreal short stories.
“I’ve had a fascination with him all my life,” he said. “I thought this would be a good thing to do. I think that hopefully this will give them the tools to create their own work. The best work happens collaboratively.”
Kaufman will collaborate with students in the rehearsal space using Moment Work, the method of devising theater he’s used throughout his career. This method encourages participants to actively engage with the elements of the stage.
For “The Laramie Project,”he talked to residents in the Wyoming town where Matthew Shepherd was killed for being gay. He also wrote and directed the film for HBO.
He co-founded the Tectonic Theater Project in 1991. He also wrote “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”in 1997. He directed Jane Fonda in “33 Variations”in 2009; Robin Williams in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”in 2011; and Jessica Chastain in “The Heiress”in 2012.
He has been nominated for two Tony Awards and two Emmy Awards. In 2016, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.
Growing up in Venezuela, he found the theater to be a solace to him as a young gay man.
“I still believe theater has a power of communicating in a very visceral and humanistic way that I find potent,” he said.
Kaufman, who lives in New York City, found out about the residency through his friend, playwright Doug Wright, who was artist-in-residence in 2015-16. Wright wrote the 2003 play “I Am My Own Wife” that Kaufman directed.
“He spoke very highly of the university and everyone involved, and I was very excited about it,” he said.
The IAA is the arm of UNT that promotes artistic and creative expression. Past IAA artists-in-residence have included screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, opera composer Jake Heggie, visual and performance artist Nick Cave, sculptor and printmaker Kiki Smith, novelist Aleksandar Hemon and the vocal band Roomful of Teeth.