French novelist and playwright Jean Genet came twice to the United States: the first time, illegally, in 1968, to attend the Democratic convention in Chicago; the second time two years later, for campus lectures accompanied by his new-found friends, the Black Panthers.
Using Genet’s travels to the U.S. as its theme, La Maison Française of New York University, located at 16 Washington Mews (at University Place), will host a conference of scholars, authors, playwrights, and theatre directors to celebrate the centennial of Jean Genet’s birth.
Jean Genet in the USA will feature discussions and roundtables about Genet’s influence on the political, social, and artistic scenes in the U.S. during the 1960s and 70s. All events are free and open to the public, and take place at La Maison Française. For further information, call 212.998.8750 or visit www.nyu.edu/maisonfrancaise.
By the time he turned to writing for the stage, with four startling, brilliant, remarkably theatrical plays—The Maids, The Balcony, The Blacks, and The Screens—which were to make him world famous, Jean Genet was already notorious in France. A writer of finely crafted, poetically provocative homoerotic fictions and autobiography, his criminal past and assertive homosexual practices were as scandalous as his fiction.
A schedule of events follows:
Thurs., Nov. 11, 7-9 p.m.
Roundtable: 1968: Chicago Democratic National Convention, with publisher
Barney Rosset, author Jeannette Seaver, and Associate Professor of French Phil Watts (Columbia).
Fri., Nov. 12, 2:30 – 4 p.m.
Talks: Playwright and director JoAnn Akalaitis on her production of The Balcony; Professor of performance studies (NYU Tisch) Richard Schechner on his productions of The Balcony and The Maids
4:30 – 6 p.m.
Roundtable: The Blacks in 1961, with novelist and Genet biographer Edmund White, producer and director Christopher McElroen, theatre director André Gregory, Professor of French (NYU) Tom Bishop, and director Marianne de Pury
7:30 – 9 p.m.
Talks: Ralph Heyndels, Les Noirs sur la blancheur livide: ou le sens possible de l’Amérique; and Véronique Lane, Jean Genet et la Beat Generation. In French.
Sat., Nov. 13, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Talk: Albert Dichy (IMEC Archive), Notes inédites de Genet sur l’Amérique: Lecture commentée. In French.
3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Roundtable: 1970: Genet and the Panthers, with Professor of French (CUNY) Tom Spear, NYU’s Tom Bishop, Marianne de Pury, and Professor (SUNY Stony Brook) Robert Harvey.
The conference is made possible by the generous support of the Florence Gould Foundation. Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to Tim Farrell, NYU Office of Public Affairs, by phone at 212.998.6797 or by email, Tim.Farrell@nyu.edu.