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Robert Cohen

About the Translator

Born in Washington DC in 1938, Cohen took his undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College and UC Berkeley, receiving his Doctor of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama in 1965, at which point he joined the charter faculty of the newly-founded Irvine campus. Now in his 48th year on this faculty, he has directed more than eighty stage productions at Irvine, including new plays, classics, experimental works, musicals and operas, often of his own authorship or translation. Off-campus, he has directed more than a dozen professional productions at the Utah and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals, plus other professional stagings at the Virginia Museum Theatre, the Image Theatre in Boston, Stages Theatre Center in Hollywood, the Summer Repertory Theatre in Santa Rosa, Theatre in Beverly Hills, and the Focused Program in Medieval Drama at Irvine. His books include six leading texts in acting, one in directing, another in theatrical collaboration, a best-selling Introduction to Theatre, a study of French playwright Jean Giraudoux, a collection of his published theatre essays, two edited dramatic play anthologies, and both original plays and play translations. He is also a longtime theatre critic for the London-published Plays International and formerly for Contemporary Literary Criticism, in which he has reviewed over four hundred plays around the United States and in dozens of countries abroad.

As a teacher, Cohen specializes in acting – particularly his own, closely-wrought integration of realism’s authentic underpinnings with the classical, musical, and experimental dramatic styles commonly performed today. His investigation of acting extends to performance studies, scientific theory, and global theatre practice, particularly in Asia and both Western and Eastern Europe. In the late 1980s, Cohen paired with Polish director Jerzy Grotowski in the creation and operation of the Objective Drama Program on the UCI campus: a three-year, full-time examination of the origins of ritual performance and its theoretical and practical application to contemporary acting and theatre art; at present, his play, Machiavelli: the art of terror is in the permanent repertory of the National Romanian Theatre in Cluj.

In addition to his regular teaching at UCI, Cohen has served as master teacher at the Actors Center in New York City Performing, 1971 and at TVI Studios in New York and Los Angeles; he also speaks and conducts workshops regularly around the country and abroad, with recent residencies in Korea, China, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Canada, Romania, Australia, and in at least half of the states in the U.S.

UCI awarded Cohen its highest honor, the UCI Medal, in 1993, and conferred on him a Clair Trevor Professorship and Bren Fellowship in 2001. In 1999 he received the Career Achievement Award in Academic Theatre from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and in subsequent years he has been awarded the Honoris Causa Professor degree at Babes-Bolyai University in Romania and the Polish Medal of Honor in Wroclaw. He lives in Laguna Beach, California with his wife, Lorna Cohen, and has two children, Michael and Whitney.

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