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Joanne Pottlitzer


BS 1959, Theatre

Joanne Pottlitzer, a freelance playwright and theater producer/director, has produced many Latin American plays in New York and is the winner of two Obie Awards. In 1966, she founded Theatre of Latin America, Inc. (TOLA), a New York-based major nonprofit arts organization that pioneered artistic exchange between the US and Latin America.  In 1979 Pottlitzer produced the first Theatre in the Americas Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, LaMama in New York, and the O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. The award-winning festival brought together 200 theatre people from Latin America, the US, Canada.

During her 14 years as TOLA’s artistic director, Pottlitzer traveled frequently to Latin America to develop exchange programs and build a Latin American theatre library of more than 3,000 volumes. In 2002, the TOLA Collection was acquired by the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts.

Pottlitzer’s history with Latin America and its cultures began in Mexico City between her sophomore and junior years at Purdue. After graduating “with distinction” from Purdue, she worked for a year and a half in Brazil, and studied Chilean theatre in Santiago for a year on a Rotary International Scholarship.

Her articles have appeared in The New York TimesAmerican Theatre magazineYale University’s Theater magazine,  Journal of Performance and ArtReview magazine, The Drama ReviewTheatre Journal, and Crimes of War magazine.  Teaching credits include Yale University’s School of Drama, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, CCNY’s Hunter and Brooklyn Colleges, and Ohio University. Pottlitzer has lectured at some 30 universities across the country on Latin American theatre and on her forthcoming book, Symbols of Resistance: A Chilean Legacy.

In 1988, Pottlitzer received a playwriting commission from the New York State Council on the Arts to develop her play Paper Wings, about Frida Kahlo.  Another play, Kate’s Place, was directed by Estelle Parsons in the 1988 Festival of Short Plays in New York, where Pottlitzer directed a musical adaptation of Saki’s short story, An Open Window. The same year, with a Senior Fulbright Award, Pottlitzer directed Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune in Santiago, Chile. She has directed in professional theatre venues in New York, Los Angeles and Tucson.

In May 2005, Pottlitzer directed her translation of scenes from Palabras Comunes, by Cuban playwright José Triana, for An Evening with José Triana, which she produced in association with CUNY Graduate Center at the Martin Segal Theatre.  Pottlitzer’s translations of Latin American plays have been produced professionally in New York and throughout the country. She also translated the dubbed version of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films El Topo and The Holy Mountain.

In spring 2004, Pottlitzer was awarded a month’s residency in Bellagio, Italy at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center to finalize the manuscript of her book, Symbols of Resistance. In 1994, Pottlitzer  received another Senior Fulbright Award to begin research on the book in Chile. The following year, she received a Visiting Faculty Fellowship from the Kellogg Institute of International Studies at Notre Dame University to continue her research.

Joanne is a board member of the League of Professional Theatre Women and a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Women Make Movies, and the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers.