|Name:||María Irene Fornés|
|Birth Day:||May 14, 1930|
|Death Date:||Oct 30, 2018 (age 88)|
As per our current Database, María Irene Fornés died on Oct 30, 2018 (age 88).
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She became a U.S. citizen in 1951, learned English and became a professional translator.
Fornés was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States at the age of 15, with her mother, Carmen Collado Fornés and sister, Margarita Fornés Lapinel, after her father, Carlos Fornés, died in 1945. Irene has two older sisters, Margarita and Carmencita, and three older brothers, Rafael (noted cartoonist), Hector and Raul. She became a U.S. citizen in 1951. When she first arrived in America, Fornés worked in the Capezio shoe factory. Dissatisfied, she took classes to learn English and became a translator. At the age of 19, she became interested in painting and began her formal education in abstract art, studying with Hans Hofmann in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts.
By 1954, Fornés had met the writer and artist's model Harriet Sohmers. They became lovers, and she moved to Paris to live with Sohmers and study painting. There, she was greatly influenced by a French production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, though she had never read the play and did not understand French. This was the moment when she realized the powerful impact that theater could have, but she did not start writing until the early 1960s. She lived with Sohmers in Paris for three years, but the relationship ended before Fornés returned to New York City in 1957.
In 1959, Fornés met the writer Susan Sontag at a party and began a relationship that lasted several years. While Fornés was with Sontag, she began to write plays. In Scott Cummings's seminal book on Maria Irene Fornes, he writes: "By her own account, Fornes took up writing on a whim. In a 1986 Village Voice profile, Ross Wetzsteon recounts how on a Saturday night in the spring of 1961, Fornes and the writer Susan Sontag were hanging out in Greenwich Village looking for a party. When Sontag voiced frustration about a novel she wanted to write, Fornes insisted that they give up their evening plans, go back to the apartment they shared, sit down at the kitchen table, and just set to work. When they got home, as if to prove how simple it was, Fornes sat down to write, as well. With no experience and no idea how to start, she opened up a cookbook at random and started a short story using the first word of each sentence on the page. 'I might never have thought of writing if I hadn't pretended I was going to show Susan how easy it was.'" Before this happened, though, Fornés's first step toward playwriting had been translating letters she brought with her from Cuba that were written to her great-grandfather from a cousin in Spain. She turned the letters into a play called La Viuda (The Widow, 1961), which was never translated into English, but it was presented in Spanish in New York. She never staged the play herself, and according to Scott Cummings's definitive book on Fornés, "in her career, it stands more as a precursor than a first play."
Her first play, and the beginning of her career as a playwright, is considered to be a piece called There! You Died, first produced by San Francisco's Actors Workshop in 1963. An absurdist two-character play, it was later renamed Tango Palace and produced in 1964 at New York City's Actors Studio. The piece is an allegorical power struggle between the two central characters: Isidore, a clown, and Leopold, a naive youth. Like much of her writing, Tango Palace stresses character rather than plot. With it, Fornés' also established her production style, being involved in the entire staging process. As Fornés' reputation grew in avant-garde circles, she became friendly with Norman Mailer and Joseph Papp and reconnected with Harriet Sohmers. Tango Palace was followed by The Successful Life of 3 and Promenade, for which she won her first Distinguished Plays Obie Award in 1965. Her work was championed by Performing Arts Journal (later PAJ).
In 1982, Fornés earned a special Obie for Sustained Achievement; in 1984, she received Obies for writing and directing The Danube (1982), Mud (1983) and Sarita (1984). Mud, first produced in 1983 at the Padua Hills Playwright's Festival in California., explores the impoverished lives of Mae, Lloyd and Henry, who become involved in a love triangle. Fornés contrasts the desire to seek more in life with what is actually possible under given conditions. When critics complained of her pessimism, Fornés begged to differ:
Fornés became a recognized force in both Hispanic-American and experimental theatre in New York, winning a total of nine Obie Awards. Arguably, though, Irene's greatest influence has come through her legendary playwriting workshops, which she taught to aspiring writers across the globe. Locally in New York City, as the director of the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Lab in the 1980s and early '90s, she mentored a generation of Latin playwrights, including Cherríe Moraga, Migdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, Caridad Svich, and Eduardo Machado. She received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Bates College in 1992.
The Conduct of Life (1985) was another Obie winner, as was Abingdon Square (1988). Fornés was also a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with her play And What of the Night? In 2000, Letters From Cuba had its premiere with the Signature Theater Company in New York, as part of their yearlong retrospective of her career. The play focuses on a young Cuban dancer living in New York who corresponds with her brother in Cuba. It is the first work Fornés identifies as drawn from personal experience, noting her nearly 30 years of exchanging letters with her own brother. Letters From Cuba, too, earned an Obie.
Currently, María Irene Fornés is 92 years, 1 months and 16 days old. María Irene Fornés will celebrate 93rd birthday on a Sunday 14th of May 2023.
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