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Donia Human Rights Center Lecture | The Role of an Activist Artist, Playwright/Librettist, in Post-Genocide Cambodia and in Human Rights

Catherine Filloux, Playwright/Librettist/Activist
Monday, March 4, 2024
5:30-7:00 PM
Helmut Stern Auditorium Museum of Art Map
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required if you intend to participate virtually. Once you've registered, the joining information will be sent to your email. Register at:

Moderator: Dr. Nachiket Chanchani, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Department of the History of Art.

The role of activist artists (broadly conceived to include theater actors and librettists) in bearing witness, nurturing empathy, and peacebuilding in post-genocide Cambodia where severe human rights violations and other grievous injustices are rampant. The talk is in conjunction with Museum Exhibition: Angkor Complex: Cultural Heritage and Post-Genocide Memory in Cambodia. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition following the event.

CATHERINE FILLOUX is an award-winning French Algerian American playwright and librettist who has been writing about human rights for many decades. Filloux’s new play “How to Eat an Orange” was commissioned by INTAR and is premiering at La MaMa in New York City. Her new musical “Welcome to the Big Dipper” (composer Jimmy Roberts, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) premieres Off-Broadway at the York Theatre in New York City; it is a National Alliance for Musical Theatre finalist and received a workshop at the Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse, NY (Hunter Foster, AD). Catherine’s new play “White Savior” was nominated for The Venturous Play List. Her plays have been produced nationally, internationally and have been widely anthologized and written about. Filloux is the librettist for four produced operas: “Orlando” (composer Olga Neuwirth) is the first opera by a woman composer-librettist team in the history of the Vienna State Opera and is the 2022 Grawemeyer Award winner. Catherine has traveled for her plays to conflict-zones including Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq,
Morocco, and to Sudan and South Sudan on an overseas reading tour with the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.

Filloux’s plays include: her livestream web drama “turning your body into a compass” at CultureHub, NYC; “whatdoesfreemean?” at Nora’s Playhouse, NYC; “Kidnap Road”, La MaMa, NYC; “Selma ‘65”, NYC and U.S. tour; “Luz”, La MaMa and Looking for Lilith in Louisville, KY. “Dog and Wolf” (59E59 Theaters/Watson Arts, NYC and “Dog and Wolf” Community Outreach Project.); “Killing the Boss” (Cherry Lane Theatre, NYC); “Lemkin’s House” (Rideau de Bruxelles, Belgium; McGinn-Cazale Theatre & 78th Street Theatre Lab, NYC; Kamerni teatar 55, Sarajevo, Bosnia); “The Beauty Inside” (New Georges, NYC and InterAct, Philadelphia; also translated into Arabic for a workshop at ISADAC in Rabat, Morocco; and produced in Iraq, in Kurdish by ArtRole.) “Eyes of the Heart” (National Asian American Theatre Co., NYC); “Silence of God” (Contemporary American Theater Festival [CATF], WV); “Mary and Myra” (CATF and Todd Mountain Theater, NY); “Arthur’s War” (commissioned by Theatreworks/ USA, NYC); “Photographs From S-21”, a short play produced throughout the world; “Escuela del Mundo” (commissioned by The Ohio State University, Columbus and Ohio tour.)

Other opera productions: “New Arrivals” (Houston Grand Opera, composer John Glover); “Where Elephants Weep” (Chenla Theatre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, composer Him Sophy) broadcast on Cambodian national television and Broadway on Demand; “The Floating Box” (Asia Society, NYC, composer Jason Kao Hwang) an Opera News Critic’s Choice and released by New World Records. Filloux is the librettist for the new operas “Blued Trees” (producer Aviva Rahmani; composer Julia Schwartz) and Thresh’s “L’Orient” (composer Kamala Sankaram; choreographer Preeti Vasudevan.)

Filloux was invited to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Henry Smith Artist in Residence Programme with The Derry Playhouse and served as a Juror for Sarajevo’s MES International Theater Festival in Bosnia. She developed the Oral History Project “A Circle of Grace” with the Cambodian Women's Group at St. Rita’s Refugee Center in Bronx, NY. Filloux was Playwright Facilitator for the International Playwright Retreat at La MaMa Umbria in Italy and is a Fulbright Senior Specialist. She received her French Baccalaureate in Philosophy with Honors in Toulon, France, and her M.F.A. at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing, NYC. Catherine is featured in the documentary film “Acting Together on the World Stage" and is the co-founder/co-director of Theatre Without Borders.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Museum of Art
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: human rights, theater
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Donia Human Rights Center, History of Art, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), International Institute, Department of American Culture, Arab and Muslim American Studies (AMAS)