Cousin Shakespeare

Wednesday April 26, 4:30 pm introduction, 6:00 pm reading

York St John University Creative Arts Centre

by Marin Sorescu – ROMANIA

translated into English by Adam J Sorkin and Lidia Vianu

European Reading in Performance

The second of a series of three staged play readings of European texts that are inspired or influenced by Shakespeare or are by writers roughly contemporary to him.

All are in new English translations, which are receiving their first performances, and all three are being heard in the UK for the first time in any language.

In this rarely performed piece, Romanian poet and playwright, Marin Sorescu takes an unusual
approach to the Bard, moving deftly through place, time and history.
And the characters?
There’s Shakespeare , his Dark Lady, a variety of low-lives, a creative stable lad, Hamlet Prince
of Denmark and, naturally, Sorescu himself.
Written in 1987 at a time of theatrical censorship and suppression of the arts under Ceausescu’s
brutal regime, never seen in performance by the author, we are lucky to be able to bring some of
the text to life for you in a rehearsed reading.
We hope you enjoy the absurdist world inhabited by Cousin Shakespeare.

The staged reading is directed by Terry Ram, who has edited the text for this occasion.

The reading will take place in the Atrium at York St John University Creative Centre, at 6:00 pm

Between Censorship and Catching Up with the World

The reading will be preceded at 4:30 pm, in the Arts Workshop at York St John University Creative Arts Centre, by an introduction to Cousin Shakespeare by Professor Nicoleta Cinpoes (Worcester) and Dr Sorin Cazacu (Craiova – Romania) where they will discuss the play, the playwright, and the theatrical conditions under which he worked. They will also share some details of the first production of the play.

Marin Sorescu (19 February 1936 – 8 December 1996), Romania’s Nobel Prize nominee the year of his untimely death, was his country’s most widely celebrated and frequently translated contemporary writer, particularly well known throughout Europe. A dozen books of poetry and plays have appeared in English, mainly in the U.K. and Ireland, and Sorescu’s translators have included fellow poets Seamus Heaney, W. D. Snodgrass, Michael Hamburger, Ted Hughes, and Paul Muldoon. During the communist decades in Romania, Sorescu’s characteristic style of deadpan satiric parable, concise fable, dramatic monologue, brief narrative, and meditation, a mode of writing that came across simultaneously as wry existential absurdism and veiled, alertly political irony, served as an important example of a strategy of cautious dissidence by indirection that was prominent in the East European literary world, although he also wrote numerous formal, lyrical poems as well as collections of works in village dialect.

Sorescu authored more than twenty collections of poetry, among them Poems (1965), The Youth of Don Quixote (1968), Cough (1970), Fountains in the Sea (1982), Water of Life, Water of Death (1987), Poems Selected by Censorship (1991), and The Crossing (1994). In 1994-95, Sorescu served as Romania’s Minister of Culture. His deathbed volume, The Bridge, published posthumously in 1997, was composed during the final two months of his life while he knew he was dying of liver cancer, with Sorescu often dictating the poems to his wife, Virginia, because he was too weak to write them down himself. Adam J. Sorkin’s English version with Lidia Vianu, published by Bloodaxe Books in 2004, was awarded The Poetry Society (U.K.) 2005 Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation.

Sorescu’s plays included JonahThe Verger, and The Matrix (published together in English as The Thirst of the Salt Mountain), A ColdVlad Dracula the Impaler, and Cousin Shakespeare

Tickets to the reading and the introduction are free but places must be booked using the link below, as space is limited

Book for this event