Sarah Brown, associate professor in Theater & Dance at the University of Memphis, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to Romania where she will teach performance and direct acting students in a series of solo shows for NATO.
The award runs from October 2021 through June 2022. Brown will be teaching solo performance and mask performance at Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania, as well as directing shows for an international audience.
“The most remarkable aspect of my activities in Romania will be directing the acting students in a series of solo shows for 400 NATO officers and their families from all 29 NATO countries who will be establishing a three-star command post in Sibiu this year,” said Brown. “This is a huge directorial and public relations project that I will be leading with the students – a project that will help draw this new international population closer to the city of Sibiu and to the university. Since English is one of the official languages of NATO, the theatre department wants me to help the students develop shows that they will perform for NATO in English.”
Along with her theatre project, Brown will be doing research for writing her own solo show where she will uncover the past lives of her ancestors.
“My paternal grandparents, Rose and Benjamin Bronstein, were Romanian Jews, and I want to understand the country they came from,” she said. “I’m eager to discern the imprint Jews made on Romanian culture and how that imprint manifests today. Most Jews who lived in Romania prior to World War II either perished during the war or eventually fled to Israel and other destinations, yet there is a Jewish community still there with stories that I wish to seek out.”
Every major city in Transylvania, including Sibiu, has a Jewish history, many with relics and synagogues still intact. “I want to see the stories these relics tell about the past lives of my people,” said Brown. “Also, Romania is the birthplace of Yiddish theatre, with the State Jewish Theatre of Bucharest being one of only three Jewish theatres left in Eastern Europe. I don’t know what kind of solo show will emerge from all these stimuli, but I remain open and excited by the possibilities – possibilities that could only be afforded me by a Fulbright Scholarship.”
Brown also will be performing her own solo show at SIBfest, one of the largest theatre festivals in the world, in June 2022.
This is the second Fulbright Award Brown has been awarded since joining the UofM. Her first Fulbright was a 10-month program in Israel in 2010-11 to teach solo performance and Commedia del Arte at the University of Haifa.
“My project was to write a solo show about my experiences in Israel, which I did, and I performed it at international festivals and venues for the next six years,” said Brown. “That Fulbright opportunity also opened up an international career for me teaching workshops in mask and solo performance.”
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs oversees Fulbright Program operations throughout the world.