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Award-winning playwright and actress Heather Raffo will present two public events as an Artist in Residence at Vassar College in March and April 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Award‐winning playwright and actress Heather Raffo, a 2010-11 Artist in Residence at Vassar, sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, will return to the college during spring 2011 for a six-week residency and will give two public presentations. One is a lecture on Friday, March 25, at 3:00pm, the other a preview of her new work on Monday, April 25, at 7:00pm. Both are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis. These presentations will follow up on Raffo’s fall residency, during which she presented Sounds of Desire, a concert reading of Raffo’s acclaimed one-woman show 9 Parts of Desire, with composer and musician Amir ElSaffar and Arab maqam musicians Hadi el Debek, Johnny Farraj, and Gaida Hinnawi.

During her residency this spring, Raffo will be working with Vassar students from a variety of disciplines to share the process she used to develop her play 9 Parts of Desire as well as her latest work, exploring post‐2010 occupied Iraq. This new work weaves together the stories of three historic Iraqi maqam musicians with stories of contemporary Iraqis, using the structure of the classical maqam as a foundation for the play itself. Raffo plans to work closely with faculty and students to explore several questions that are central to the development of her new play, concerning peace, justice, identity, minority communities, and art.

For more information about the Vassar Artist in Residence program, including more details about all events, visit http://blogs.vassar.edu/artistinresidence/.

Raffo’s residency is co-sponsored by the departments of Drama, Education, English, Music, and Political Science; and the programs of American Culture, International Studies, and Women’s Studies at Vassar.

About the Events
Lecture: “Performing Multiple Truths against One-Dimensional Representations: The Process and Politics of Staging a One-Woman Show about Iraq”
Friday, March 25 at 3:00pm
Sanders Classroom, Spitzer Auditorium, Room 212
Artist-in-Residence Heather Raffo will follow up from her campus performance last September of Sounds of Desire, a concert reading of selections from her play 9 Parts of Desire

Presentation: “New Work”
Monday, April 25 at 7:00pm
Sanders Classroom, Spitzer Auditorium, Room 212
Artist-in-Residence Heather Raffo will present the new work that she is developing while in residence at Vassar
About Heather Raffo

Heather Raffo is the recipient of a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Special Commendation and the Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin Fellowship for 9 Parts of Desire. Most recently she has received a 2005 Lucille Lortel award for Best Solo show as well as an Outer Critics Circle Nomination and a Drama League nomination for Outstanding Performance.  She first performed 9 Parts of Desire in August 2003 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. It later moved to the Bush Theatre in London's Off-West End, where critics hailed it as one of the five best plays in London in late 2003.  9 Parts of Desire was then developed and performed as a reading at The Public Theatre as part of their New Work Now festival in Spring 2004. Its New York premiere took place in the fall of 2004 at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater, where the show ran for nine sold out months. In 2005 the play began touring the United States. Raffo's other recent acting credits include: New York premiere Palace of the End, Epic Theater Center (Drama League Nomination);  In Darfur (world premiere) The Public Theater, Delacourt; Seven, Folger, Skirball Center, and numerous national and international productions. She received a BA from the University of Michigan, and a MFA from the University of San Diego and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Originally from Michigan, Raffo now lives in New York. Her father is from Iraq and her mother is American.

About the Artist in Residence Program

Vassar Artists in Residence is a new program to engage artists with the Vassar community for sustained, interactive, interdisciplinary projects in a variety of art forms. These projects bring real world experiences into the classroom and then reach from the classroom back out again, to the rest of the campus and to the world, adding a social element in addition to the academic element. This kind of residency has a greater impact than what is possible during a shorter visit, or a residency contained in one department. Our community has much to gain from interaction with these artists, but the artists also have the reciprocal effect of access to the knowledge, feedback, and resources of the entire campus.

The 2010-2011 academic year is the second year of the first phase of this program, funded by the Mellon Foundation. The first year, 2009-2010, was a planning year, in which a faculty steering committee was formed to develop the goals of the program and solicit applications from faculty for projects with artists. This second year is a very active one, bringing the artists to campus.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, March 17, 2011