KU News Release

Feb. 15, 2011
Contact: Charla Jenkins, Department of Theatre, 785-864-2684

Playwright to visit KU for stage reading

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LAWRENCE — Robert Skloot, professor emeritus of theater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will visit the University of Kansas for a stage reading of his one-act play “If the Whole Body Dies: Raphael Lemkin and the Treaty against Genocide.”

The one-hour stage reading, featuring the playwright and KU theatre faculty and students, is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the William Inge Theatre in Murphy Hall. Following the performance, a discussion will be held with the playwright to talk about the play and the vital issues of the power of theater art and the prevention of genocide.

Published by Parallel Press in 2006, Skloot’s play dramatizes the lifelong obsession of Lemkin, a Polish-born Jew who served as a public prosecutor in Warsaw, to fight genocide, a term he formally coined in 1944. Lemkin published essays on international criminal law, fought against the German siege on his city and eventually immigrated to the United States in 1941, where he joined the law faculty at Duke University. He became an adviser to Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg Trial chief counsel Robert H. Jackson in 1945. Lemkin’s legal definition of genocide as an offense against international law became a foundation for legal use during the Nuremberg Trials, said Rebecca Laughlin Rovit, assistant professor of theatre, who is hosting Skloot’s visit. The General Assembly of the U.N. formally adopted the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” in December 1948.

Skloot taught and directed plays at the University of Wisconsin-Madison beginning in 1968 and served as an associate vice chancellor there from 1996 to 2002. Besides many articles and book chapters, he authored “The Darkness We Carry: The Drama of the Holocaust” and edited the two-volume anthology “The Theatre of the Holocaust” and “The Theatre of Genocide: Four Plays about Mass Murder in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and Armenia.” He served as a Fulbright professor in Israel, Austria, Chile and the Netherlands and held a joint appointment in theater and the University of Wisconsin’s Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies.

Skloot’s play has been read in the United States in such places as Washington, D.C.; Rochester, N.Y.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Colorado Springs, Colo.; and at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, Mass., as well as abroad in Sarajevo; the Hague; Wroxton, England; Cork, Ireland; and Camaguey, Cuba, in a Spanish translation by the Grupo Teatro Teatral. Skloot continues to work across cultures as evident by his most recent collaboration in 2010, “The Magic Bottu: An Empowerment Play for Children.Telugu” in Vijayawada, India.

Sponsored by the School of the Arts and the Department of Theatre’s Scene Partners Visiting Artists and Scholars program, Skloot’s visit is co-sponsored by the Western Civilization and Humanities Program’s Peace and Conflict Studies Institute, the Jewish Studies Program and the Department of Political Science.

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