University of Pittsburgh
March 28, 2013

Pitt Repertory Theatre Concludes Season With City of Asylum

Production inspired by the true story of four exiled writers given artistic freedom while living in an enclave on Pittsburgh’s North Side
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—A story of struggle, resilience, transcendence, and hope comes to the stage when the University of Pittsburgh-based Pitt Repertory Theatre presents City of Asylum April 4-14, 2013. The production will close out the Pitt Rep’s 2012-13 season.Members of the cast of Pitt Rep's City of Asylum

Conceived and directed by Pitt Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Cynthia Croot and written by her in collaboration with the cast, the play is based on the international City of Asylum network, which provides sanctuary to writers in danger of persecution or death in their native lands. Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, which hosts and supports exiled writers and engages creatively with the community, was founded in 2004. It made news last week when it announced that it will be the anchor tenant in the North Side’s Garden Theater Block, which will include a new bookstore, performance and workshop space, and restaurant.

Pitt Rep’s City of Asylum gives voice to four writersIsrael Centeno from Venezuela, Huang Xiang from China, Khet Mar from Burma, and Horacio Castellanos Moya from El Salvador. All of them faced violence and oppression in their home countries because of their artistic and political endeavors, and they sought and received refuge in the United States at the Pittsburgh City of Asylum’s North Side enclave. Xiang was the enclave’s first resident writer in 2004 and stayed until 2007, Moya was there from 2006 to 2011, Mar was a resident from 2009 to 2012, and Centeno has been residing there since 2010. Xiang and Moya each taught a class at Pitt while in residence at City of Asylum.

The Pitt Rep production presents a theatrical portrait of each writer and his or her work.  Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the Charity Randall Theatre in Pitt’s Stephen Foster Memorial, Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard, Oakland. A panel discussion about censorship and exile will be held prior to the final matinee performance on April 14. For tickets and more information, visit www.play.pitt.edu or call 412-624-PLAY (7529).

Pitt faculty member Croot is a writer, director, and humanitarian activist. She represented U.S. artists on a five-person delegation to Damascus University in Syria in 2004. This exchange, originally organized by the U.S. State Department and the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, helped shape her ongoing commitment to forging cross-cultural understanding through innovative use of the arts and media.

“When I learned about City of Asylum, I was moved that Pittsburgh played such an important role in the lives of these writers, and I wanted to do something to honor their stories,” said Croot. “Drawn from interviews and the literature of the authors, the project has been built from the ground up through the research efforts, assemblage, choreography, and characterizations of Pitt students as they came to know and admire these courageous artists.”

Croot has directed, among other plays, Natalie Handal’s Details of Silence (Symphony Space, New York City), Susan Millers' Reading List (McGinn Cazale Theatre, New York City), Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar (in performance through March 31 at Perseverance Theater, Juneau, Alaska), and The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar (Colorado Shakespeare Festival). She also serves as resident director of the New York City-based theater company Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant. 

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