When the curtain goes up at the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) on August 12, Dahn Hiuni (’96 M.F.A. Visual Arts, ’95 Ph.D. Art Education) will be ready. His play, Murmurs & Incantations, will be one of only about a dozen full-length plays featured at the festival. The work is a multi-media production that “tells the story of a gay, New York performance artist with creative block who fatefully travels to Poland in an attempt to revive his art career, only to be further confounded by the disapproving ghost of his grandfather, a rabbi killed in the Holocaust.”
“It is such an honor,” said Hiuni. “Who would have ever thought? All my dreams are coming true!”
Hiuni, an artist, playwright, activist, and teacher, combines his experiences in each realm to create art that asks broader, philosophical questions. There are also some biographical similarities between Hiuni and the main character in the play (both are Jewish, gay artists with family members who died in the Holocaust) that lend themselves to Hiuni’s desire to “dignify and redeem” the past and “stand witness” to history.
Hiuni frequently engages with the topic of gay culture in his work, with one of his formative performance pieces taking place on the Palmer Museum of Art Plaza on campus during World AIDS Day in 1994.
“Being a gay man has defined my identity as an artist. In some ways, I’m lucky because I have this big, looming identity in the room. I sometimes wonder, ‘What do straight people write about?’, he jokingly said. “I have this gift I’ve been given, to belong to several subcultures and communities, and it naturally informs my work.”
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