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Romanian playwright Peca Ştefan wins Irish Embassy Award

His Excellency, Mr. John Morahan, Ambassador of Ireland to Romania today presented the Irish Embassy Award to an Emerging Romanian Playwright to Peca Ştefan. Peca Ştefan has been working in television, film and theatre and his reputation as a talented artist has been growing steadily. Peca Ştefan receives the Irish Embassy Award for his play 5 Miraculous Minutes in Piatra Neamt, and was selected from a shortlist of candidates which included Gianina Carbunariu and Bodgan Georgescu.

The judging panel was chaired by the distinguished Romanian theatre director, Alexandru Dabija and included Aideen Howard, Literary Director of the Abbey Theatre (National Theatre of Ireland). Commenting on the selection process, Ms. Howard said of the shortlist, "these are three very different plays which nonetheless touch on some similar themes; cultural identity, the breakdown of relationships and Romania in the aftermath of communism.” Paying tribute to the winner, she further commented “Peca Ştefan's 5 Miraculous Minutes is a funny and dramatic play which heralds the emergence of a promising theatrical voice”.

The Irish Ambassador said that he was pleased that Ireland could support the emerging artistic talent in Romania and build on the longstanding and high quality Irish-Romanian cultural ties. Many leading figures of Romanian theatre attended the award ceremony which took place in the Residence of the Ambassador of Ireland to Romania. Guests of honour were the Joint Chairs of the Irish Romanian Cultural Foundation, the actor and former Romanian Minister of Culture, Ion Caramitru, and the former Irish Education Minister Gemma Hussey. The event was also attended by John Farleigh, the Director of the Stewart Parker Trust which co-sponsors the award.

Peca Ştefan is the second winner of the Irish Embassy award. The inaugural recipient of the Award in 2009 was Mimi Brănescu. The Irish Embassy Award is sponsored by the Ireland Romania Cultural Foundation and the Stewart Parker Trust.

Note to the Editor:

‘The Irish Embassy Award’ inaugurated in 2009 is offered annually to an emerging writer for the theatre in Romania. The award carries a cash prize of Euro 1,000, the offer of translation of one of the winner’s plays into English by an Irish playwright, plus a rehearsed reading of the play at the Abbey Theatre – Ireland’s National Theatre – during the Dublin International Theatre Festival.

The idea for the Award grew out of the extensive interaction between young Romanian and Irish playwrights; in recent years there have been several published anthologies with the playwrights working on translations of one another and many resulting productions in both countries. Names like Gianina Carbunariu, Lia Bugnar, and Mimi Branescu are now known to Irish audiences.

Many of the Irish writers involved in these exchanges have been recipients of awards from the Stewart Parker Trust. This is an Irish organisation devoted to the encouragement of new writing for the stage named after a distinguished Northern Irish playwright.  The Irish Embassy Award will result in further drawing emerging writers in Romania and Ireland together: each year the Parker Trust and the Irish Embassy Award winners will have the opportunity of working together to translate and promote each other’s work.

Advising the Irish Ambassador on the selection of the winner is a panel chaired by distinguished director Alexandru Dabija who has been at the forefront of encouraging new Romanian writing. Supporting him on the panel are Aura Gaidarji, Tudor Jiţianu, Andrei Marinescu and Ionut Sociu, all of whom are well-known in Romanian theatre.

The first recipient of the Irish Embassy Award was Mimi Brănescu. Besides appearances as an actor in many major Romanian films, Mimi Brănescu’s plays have been staged with critical success at the Act Theatre and other avant garde venues, some of these have been translated into English and have been given rehearsed readings in the Irish theatre.

The Irish Embassy Award is sponsored by the Ireland Romania Cultural Foundation and the Stewart Parker Trust.