UW-Madison: Stage set for visit by chemist, playwright Djerassi

CONTACT: Angela Richardson, 608-263-9290, [email protected]

MADISON – University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus Carl Djerassi – an award-winning chemist, novelist, playwright and art collector – will appear on campus Monday-Tuesday, March 28-29, as part of the yearlong celebration “ILLUMINATE: UW-Madison Year of the Arts,” the Arts Institute announced.

Djerassi, a 1945 doctoral graduate and a 1995 honorary degree recipient, will speak surrounding a staged reading of his latest theater work, “Foreplay,” dealing with Hannah Arendt, Theodor and Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin.

Martin Jay, a history professor at the University of California, Berkeley, called the work “outrageous and beguiling” and added that it “boldly extrapolates from the known facts of it’s four real protagonists’ lives to create a spirited drama of entangled emotional intrigue and mordant wit.”

Directed by Patrick Sims, UW-Madison associate professor of theatre and drama, and featuring MFA acting students, the staged reading takes place from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, at the Town Center in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St. The event is free and open to the public.

Members of the public are invited to attend and meet the playwright after the performance. Remarks by Djerassi and a book signing will immediately follow the reading from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Copies of “Foreplay” (published by The University of Wisconsin Press) and other books by Djerassi will be available for purchase at the event.

In another public event from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, March 28, in 6191 Helen C. White Hall, Djerassi will read from his book “Four Jews on Parnassus,” a dramatized conversation among four extraordinary intellectuals of the 20th century: philosopher Walter Benjamin, intellectuals Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Scholem, and composer Arnold Schnberg. The event is free and open to the public.

In collaboration with the Office of the Chancellor, the Arts Institute is presenting a series of public talks by distinguished alumni who have made the arts a vital part of their lives and by doing so have help to emphasis the excellence and impact the arts on the UW-Madison campus have had locally and globally. Several visits by distinguished alumni to campus during the Year of the Arts emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the arts on campus.

Each visit is sponsored by a primary arts department, with assistance and support of other departments across the arts and campus. These special events provide campus with both a public talk on their work and their association with the arts, as well as small meetings with undergraduate and graduate students.

Djerassi’s visit is being co-sponsored by UW-Madison’s Department of Theatre and Drama, the Program in Creative Writing, the Department of English, the Department of Chemistry, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the UW Press and the UW Foundation.

For more information on Djerassi’s appearance here, visit http://arts.wisc.edu/yota/djerassi.php