Ariel Dorfman Speaker & Booking Information

Chilean novelist, dramatist, essayist, and human rights activist
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Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman (born May 6, 1942) is an Argentine-Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, academic, and human rights activist. A citizen of the United States since 2004, he has been a professor of literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina since 1985.

Dorfmans work often deals with the horrors of tyranny and, in later works, the trials of exile. In an interview in BOMB Magazine, Dorfman said, Im constantly trying to figure out how you can be true to an experience which in fact very few people in the world would understand, such as having most of your friends disappear or be tortured, and at the same time finding a way of telling that story so other people in other places can read their own lives into that. His most famous play, Death and the Maiden, describes the encounter of a former torture victim with the man she believed tortured her; it was made into a film in 1994 by Roman Polanski starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. Dorfman identified the stark, painful Chilean transition to democracy as Death and the Maidens central theme. The play received a 20th anniversary revival in the 2011-2012 season at the Harold Pinter Theatre in Londons West End, directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Thandie Newton, Tom Goodman-Hill, and Anthony Calf.

His thesis on the absurd in plays of Harold Pinter was published in Spanish as El absurdo entre cuatro paredes: el teatro de Harold Pinter (The absurd within four walls: the theater of Harold Pinter) by Editorial Universitaria, in Santiago, Chile, in 1968 (124 pages). Pinter later became a personal friend as well as an influence on Dorfmans work and political thinking.

A critic of Pinochet, he has written extensively about the Generals extradition case for the Spanish newspaper El País and other publications, and in the book Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Rather than distinguishing between politics and art, Dorfman believes that one™s writing is deeply political, and, at its best, engages the major dilemmas...of the community.
Dorfmans works have been translated into more than 40 languages and performed in over 100 countries. Besides poetry, essays and novels” Hard Rain, winner of the Sudamericana Award; Widows; The Last Song of Manuel Sendero; Mascara; Konfidenz; The Nanny and the Iceberg, and Blake™s Therapy”he has written short stories, including My House Is on Fire, and general nonfiction including The Empire™s Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds. He has won various international awards, including two Kennedy Center Theater Awards. In 1996, with his son, Rodrigo, he received an award for best television drama in Britain for Prisoners in Time. His poems, collected in Last Waltz in Santiago and In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land, have been turned into a half-hour fictional film, Deadline, featuring the voices of Emma Thompson, Bono, Harold Pinter, and others.

Dorfman™s human rights play, Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark (based on interviews with human rights defenders conducted by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo), premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 2000, and subsequently aired on PBS as part of its Great Performances series. The play starred Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, and John Malkovich, among others, and was directed by Greg Mosher. It has gone on to numerous performances around the world, including a run in New York City. On May 3, 2010, a Speak Truth to Power benefit for survivors of the 2010 Chilean earthquake was put on by New Yorks Public Theater, directed by David Esbjornson, and featuring an all-star cast of Elias Koteas, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Gloria Reuben, Paul Sorvino, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, and Debra Winger.

Dorfmans play The Other Side had its world premiere at the New National Theatre in Tokyo, Japan in 2004 and opened off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theater Club in 2005. Other recent plays include Purgatorio at the Seattle Rep in 2005 and at the Arcola Theatre in London™s West End in 2008; Picasso™s Closet, a counterfactual history in which the Nazis murder Picasso, had its premiere at Theater J in Washington, D.C. in 2006.

He is also the subject of a feature-length documentary, A Promise to the Dead, based on his memoir Heading South, Looking North and directed by Peter Raymont. The film had its world premiere at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2007. In November 2007, the film was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar shortlist. The list was narrowed to five films on January 22, 2008, and A Promise to the Dead was not among the five Oscar-nominated documentaries.

His latest works include the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel book, Desert Memories; a collection of essays, Other Septembers, Many Americas; a novel he wrote with his youngest son, Joaquín, Burning City, Americanos: Los Pasos de Murieta; and a new volume of memoirs, Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile. In 2007, his musical, Dancing Shadows, opened in Seoul, Korea. This collaboration with Eric Woolfson, the principal composer for the Alan Parsons Project, won five Korean œTony awards. In 2011, his play Purgatorio has its Spanish language premiere at the Teatro Español in Madrid, starring Viggo Mortensen and Carme Elias.

Dorfman currently has several film projects in development with his sons, Rodrigo and Joaquin Dorfman, including a screen adaptation of his novel, Blake™s Therapy.

Dorfman also writes regularly for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian (where he has a featured blog), Le Monde and LUnità.

He is a member of LAcadémie Universelle des Cultures, in Paris, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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