Costa Rican poet, actress, playwright, and essayist Ana Istarú, who is a research advisor and frequent guest speaker for the ACM Costa Rica Program, will spend three days this month at St. Olaf College as a visiting artist.
Istarú’s busy schedule at St. Olaf in Northfield, MN, on October 10-12 will include visits to classrooms and two public presentations, one in English and one in Spanish, in which she will combine commentary, dramatic readings of her works, and discussion with the audience.
Her wide-ranging career had brought Istarú recognition throughout Latin America and in Europe and the U.S., along with numerous awards for her playwriting and acting. For the past decade, she has contributed monthly opinion articles to two of Costa Rica’s major newspapers and is a prominent voice on social issues, especially the situation of women in Latin America, the challenges they face, and their possibilities for transforming Latin American society.
For ACM, Istarú guides students conducting independent projects on topics related to theater and poetry during the spring Costa Rica: Field Research in the Environment, Social Sciences, & Humanities program. She also meets with students in the fall semester Costa Rica: Language, Society, & the Environment program to discuss Costa Rican literature and society.
Among her awards for playwriting, Istarú was the first Costa Rican to win the María Teresa León Prize for Dramatists (1995) from the Spanish Association of Stage Directors for “Baby boom in Paradise” and the Machado Theater Prize (1999), given by the municipal government in Seville, Spain, for “Men in marinade.” Her plays have been performed in Spanish and in translation in 17 countries. She also wrote the script for CARIBE, an award-winning (Trieste, Italy; Huelva, Spain) 2004 Costa Rican film directed by Esteban Ramírez.
As an actress, she has performed in her own plays as well as in Latin American and European classics, starred in the Costa Rican TV series “Eso que llaman hogar” (“Something Called Home”), and has been honored with the Costa Rican National Award for a Beginning Actress (1980), the National Award for a Lead Actress (1997), and the Áncora Theater Award for the 1999-2000 season.
Istarú has published six books of poetry – the first when she was just 15 years old – and her poems have appeared in translation in highly regarded journals and anthologies in the U.S. and Europe. In 1990, she won a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant.
“We are pleased that after two years of planning, Ana will be able to speak and perform at St. Olaf,” said Spanish professor León Narváez, who served as director of the ACM Costa Rica program in 1998-2000 and has been a longtime faculty advisor for the program.
Istarú’s public talks, both held in St. Olaf’s Viking Theater, will be:
- “Ana Istarú, a Public Intellectual in Latin America” (in English) – Readings and commentary on the role of the female intellectual in the Spanish-speaking world, and specifically on how Istaru’s literary production has worked to influence public opinion.
- “La mujer latina: Teatro y humor con Ana Istarú” (in Spanish) – Readings of her poetry and dramatic monologues related to the situation of women in Latin America, the challenges they face and their possibilities for effecting change in Latin American society.
She will also talk with students in courses in the Spanish (Exploring Hispanic Literature), theater (Writing for Performance and Text and Performance), and sociology (Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective) departments.