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Loyola welcomes Albanian Fulbright Scholar

February 20, 2009

Fulbright Scholar, theatre director, playwright, journalist and translator Arben Kumbaro, brings his knowledge and experience of Eastern European theatre and culture to Loyola University New Orleans this spring. Along with teaching a course in new script development and participating in panel discussions and lectures, Kumbaro will direct the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance’s production of “Trojan Women” in March.

Growing up in the war-torn communist nation of Albania, Kumbaro took much of his ideology from the issues in his surroundings. The country was struggling politically to come out of communist rule, which had a dramatic impact on the evolution of its arts.

Much of the arts, including theatre, was heavily censored by the Albanian government, and artists were urged to create works that endorsed socialism according to Kumbaro. Because of these limitations, he and other artists had to be extremely cautious not to arouse too much interest within the government.

Kumbaro is particularly excited to direct “Trojan Women,” because of its anti-war depictions, a sentiment that is close to him. He hopes to use the experiences from his youth to captivate an accurate portrayal of what the women of Troy went though during those hostile times.

“I hope to be able to plant the history of tragedy in New Orleans, a city that has experienced so much tragedy and challenge the students and broaden the horizon of their point of view.”

In 1991, Kumbaro left Albania to study in France. There he worked with Silviu Purkarete at Theatre de L’Union in Limoges and studied at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris. After his studies, Kumbaro became a resident artist at Centre Dramatique in Normandy and later a professor at Université de Caen.

In 1998, Kumbaro returned to Albania, which had a newly established democracy, and he is currently the president of the Albanian Critics of Theater. He is also a professor at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Tirana, where he teaches acting and directing. A member of diverse cultural boards in Albania, Kumbaro has directed numerous professional and academy productions of classical authors including Chekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Beckett, Ionesco, Brecht, Pirandello, Durrenmatt, Genet and Edgar.

His play “Disremember Me” was produced at Seven Stages in Atlanta and at Harvard University. Kumbaro has served as the adviser to Albania’s Minister of Culture and participated in numerous international festivals and conferences. He also founded the Institute of Arts and Civic Dialogue.

Kumbaro taught as a master director for the La Mama Directors’ Symposium in Umbria, Italy, in 2006. Most recently, he directed Durrenmatt’s “Frank the Fifth” at the National Theatre of Albania. Kumbaro has won two Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence fellowships to the United States. In addition to the Loyola fellowship, he taught at Berry College located in Mount Berry, Ga. in 1999-2000.

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