Arben Kumbaro, President, Albanian Artists of Theater,
and professor, Academy of Dramatic Arts in Tirana
Lecturing: Theater and Dance, Theater of Crisis and Commitment
Host: Berry College, Ga.
August 1999-May 2000
© 2000 7 Stages Theater
Kumbaro takes a break at 7 Stages Theater.
In February 2000, Berry College had the honor of presenting the
first English language play written by an Albanian playwright
in over 50 years. This was the remarkable achievement of the institution's
1999-2000 Fulbright scholar in residence, Arben Kumbaro. Kumbaro's
play, Disremember Me, offered the Mount Berry, Ga., community
a rare look into the complexities of a culture and history that
very few Americans know much about. Described by one of Kumbaro's
faculty associates David McKenzie as a "powerful portrait
of the dehumanization in Albania resulting from the communist
period, and the conflicts between past and future, bondage and
freedom, and security and human rights that arise with its collapse,"
the play was referred to by faculty as the most significant event
of the academic year. Disremember Me was performed by the
7 Stages Theater Company of Atlanta and received favorable reviews
in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the Boston Globe
and the journal American Theatre.
Kumbaro took a break from his position as president of the Albanian
Theater of Artists and professor at the Academy of Dramatic Arts,
both in Tirana, to spend seven months adding a unique perspective
to the theater courses taught at Berry. He taught play writing
and conducted a seminar on politics and theater in the Balkans,
while making extra time to give presentations on Albania to local
community groups as well as at other colleges and universities
and meetings of professional associations. Kumbaro provided, through
the lectures and presentations he gave about his home county,
knowledge of a part of the world that, according to Berry faculty,
receives inadequate attention in the current curriculum.
Kumbaro also helped expand the scope of the theater department's
global approach and plans to further collaborate with his host
institution in the development of an exchange program that includes
Eastern Europe. McKenzie explained, "Most of our students
and many of our faculty simply knew very little about the Albanian
culture and its rich traditions and contributions to human progress
. . . Arben brought Albania to life for us, sharing with great
passion both its rich cultural heritage and its present suffering."
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