Catalina Florina Florescu

Catalina Florina Florescu

Catalina Florina Florescu holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Purdue University with a double specialization in medical humanities and comparative theater. After the death of her mother because of breast cancer, she found comfort in theater, music, and philosophy. She teaches courses on theater, cinema, and writing at Pace University. She is a published author with books part of the Library of Congress...
Catalina Florina Florescu holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Purdue University with a double specialization in medical humanities and comparative theater. After the death of her mother because of breast cancer, she found comfort in theater, music, and philosophy. She teaches courses on theater, cinema, and writing at Pace University. She is a published author with books part of the Library of Congress and national and international universities.
Her plays have been developed as hyphenated spaces between personal and collective, arts and medicine, humanities and politics. She is currently working on staging three of her plays professionally, one in NYC, another in London, and a third back home, in Bucharest. An immigrant at heart, Catalina is constantly searching for plurality within individuality. She is also the New Play Development Curator and Dramaturg at Jersey City Theater Center: https://www.jctcenter.org/about/​​

Plays

  • Mia
    MIA
    In this play, three women talk about breast cancer from direct and indirect perspectives. A spouse, a doctor, and a school inspector are added to the plot. Who’s in charge of our bodies?

    Script history:
    After I completed and published my first book, Transacting Sites of the Liminal Bodily Spaces (2011) catalogued at the Library of Congress, cited in the Oxford’s Journal of the...
    MIA
    In this play, three women talk about breast cancer from direct and indirect perspectives. A spouse, a doctor, and a school inspector are added to the plot. Who’s in charge of our bodies?

    Script history:
    After I completed and published my first book, Transacting Sites of the Liminal Bodily Spaces (2011) catalogued at the Library of Congress, cited in the Oxford’s Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, archived in the Medical Humanities Dissertations and at the National Institute of Health, and part of prestigious national and international universities’ collections, something was missing. To this day, and best to my knowledge, there are almost no theatrical representations of breast cancer. Is it because breast cancer is the most sexualized of all illnesses? Is it because women should be silenced and told how to act and look? Is it because our bodies are so politicized? Is it because of the too much pressure performed (sic!) on us by the medical community and pharmaceutical industry to regulate our bodies possibly altering them beyond our control and thus limiting our freedom?

    Honoring my late mother’s death because of breast cancer, Mia is a play about breast cancer and femininity post mastectomy. But it’s more than that. Given its medical humanities approach, it’s also a morally prophylactic play about how we can stop the illness to be overtly sexualized and how women are not just objects of pleasure and how their bodies are active sites, full of inquiries that may not be answered but rather felt and respected.
    Mia has been part of my honors course on 21st century drama and gave me the chance to expose the topic to students and hear their reactions. This spring the play had its first stage reading at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center directed by Handan Ozbilgin. We work to offer it in full production next year.
  • Three as in Tri-Angle, or the Aftertastes of Life
    This is a metatheatrical piece revising and revisiting views on masculinities and how men should not be viewed as the monolithic blocks of patriarchy but gentle and fragile creatures, and how equally lost they may feel when transitioning from a one-sided view on their masculinity to a more fluid and complex identity. As a result, men are not portrayed as villains but as people who, helped by an open-minded...
    This is a metatheatrical piece revising and revisiting views on masculinities and how men should not be viewed as the monolithic blocks of patriarchy but gentle and fragile creatures, and how equally lost they may feel when transitioning from a one-sided view on their masculinity to a more fluid and complex identity. As a result, men are not portrayed as villains but as people who, helped by an open-minded society, need to dismantle archaic, toxic views.

    Script History:
    I started developing this play in 2010 during a workshop on masculinities organized by Urban Stages in New York. The Romanian version of the play had a stage reading at the National Museum of Literature directed by Alexandru Nagy in Bucharest 2018. This spring, the Canadian Language Museum in Toronto, Canada, invited me to give a talk entitled “Pushing the Limits of Gender Roles through Performance.”
    I also list the play when I teach “Women in Literature” because while there is a catastrophically large amount of literature produced by men about women, there are fewer pieces where women focus on men. Tough notions on masculinity have equally altered men emotionally and cognitively. That should change. While this piece seems hermetic, it is better to viewed as a blueprint that can be modified in performance as the creative team sees fit.







  • Suicidal Dog and Laika
    A play about how history needs to be told from the perspective of the one whose voice is either silenced or marginalized. In this case, on the one hand, Laika’s voice, the first (female) creature to be sent and die in space “in the name of science” and, on the other hand, Dog’s, an immigrant from the Middle East who thought starting a new life in “the new world” would be the adventure of his lifetime.
    ...
    A play about how history needs to be told from the perspective of the one whose voice is either silenced or marginalized. In this case, on the one hand, Laika’s voice, the first (female) creature to be sent and die in space “in the name of science” and, on the other hand, Dog’s, an immigrant from the Middle East who thought starting a new life in “the new world” would be the adventure of his lifetime.

    Script history:
    During the U.S. Presidential election of 2016, an episode from my adolescence resurfaced. It was the summer of 1989. I went on my first trip abroad. The lights blinded my eyes. The morning buffet made me feel like a queen. Mind you, both were ordinary: street lights at night and ordinary food in the morning, but they were not part of my routine in communist Romania. When we were about to leave, a girl escaped. She had staged her exit flawlessly. But that was bad news for me. The girl was in my classroom and since I was her only classmate, then and there it was decided I was an accomplice. I was slapped and grilled in an abusive, intimidating interview, and I was harassed that I would be kicked out of school and my parents would lose their jobs. I lived with that induced terror and terrifying looks for a few more months. The Iron Curtain would come down soon. Harsh as those moments were, I started to realize that political regimes and doctrines could harm people badly, like a contagious disease. I promised myself to refuse to be mistreated and make sure I speak up, especially since the abuse typically concerns the marginalized and weak people. That’s how I felt during the last U.S. Presidential election. I knew that the best way for me to keep my sanity while voicing out my opinions would come therapeutically via writing.

    In 2018, the play had a stage reading directed by Marcy Arlin at TheaterLab in New York. In 2019 Olga Levina of Jersey City Theater Center staged it twice, one time at JCTC and a second time at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. With the same play I was invited to give a talk, “Playing a Game Called History” in Berlin.
    The play had a reading with an innovative all-female cast this last summer at the Finnish Institute of Culture. With the same play, actresses, and director, the play travels to Birmingham this coming December. Finally, we work on its full production for next year.








  • Chalk
    1-Act play, about a D.A.C.A. boy of Mexican ancestry who, after witnessing the brutal deportation of his parents, looks into our eyes to see how low can humanity succumb before admitting our collective guilt, i.e., that deporting one human relies on our hypocritical complicity that perpetuates injustice and intolerance of those “other”…like us. The piece was written for Paula Vogel’s National Ubu-Roi Bake-Off.
  • Vecinele
    My first play written directly in my native language. It’s a play marking the centennial anniversary since the Great Union in Romania that solidified us as one nation. But due to corruption, political immaturity, and socio-economic discrepancies, we can see and feel those 100 years not as fruitful as we would have hoped. Which in turn begs the question, since this is not an exclusive Romanian problem, but it...
    My first play written directly in my native language. It’s a play marking the centennial anniversary since the Great Union in Romania that solidified us as one nation. But due to corruption, political immaturity, and socio-economic discrepancies, we can see and feel those 100 years not as fruitful as we would have hoped. Which in turn begs the question, since this is not an exclusive Romanian problem, but it applies to other ex-communist countries, has their journey to adapt to democracy a victory or a forever delayed achievement?
  • Am aflat… acum
    My first commissioned play possible via an AFCN award. This is my first play to be fully staged and it’s also my first play with an almost exclusive cast of teenagers. With the exception of the janitor, all the eleven characters are in high school. They meet and talk about topics that concern every adolescent, from falling in love, to looking for their future, to discovering who they are.
  • Map of T/Errors
    An immersive play in three tableaux with two presidents from two different countries morph into puppets, more specifically piñatas. This is an intergenerational, transnational play with two pairs, a niece and her grandfather, and a nephew and his grandfather, respectively, plus one character in V.O. In this play, history becomes exactly what it should (have) be(en): a geographical map overlapping an anatomical...
    An immersive play in three tableaux with two presidents from two different countries morph into puppets, more specifically piñatas. This is an intergenerational, transnational play with two pairs, a niece and her grandfather, and a nephew and his grandfather, respectively, plus one character in V.O. In this play, history becomes exactly what it should (have) be(en): a geographical map overlapping an anatomical one. When the two pairs from the two different countries meet, they discover that they have been sharing the stage the whole time. By so doing and by inviting the audience to participate, the play seeks a way to alleviate the heavy load of political propaganda transforming it into something else. There is no ending to the play, not in the strict way anyway, because with each audience the play has the option to be rewritten via a set of uncoreographed bodily gestures and sounds. At this point, language is superfluous.


  • Corporeal
    The play brings into focus 3 people whose sexual and gender identities is meant to dismantle the misconception that breast cancer is a feminine illness. When we divide into feminine and masculine, not only do we continue to walk the strict and damaging binary line; we are in fact refusing to embrace the infinite that is (in) us.
    The play is currently considered for production with a premiere in Bucharest next year. More soon.
  • Greetings from the Land of Pastries and Churches

    Greetings from the Land of Pastries and Churches starts with a girl being lost both literally and figuratively. The girl’s name suggests is not Romanian just to mess up with people’s assumptions. She faces People’s Salvation Cathedral looking for her lost doll. In a split of a second she is in the same location, now a teenager looking for a hospital to have an abortion after rape. In the next scene the...

    Greetings from the Land of Pastries and Churches starts with a girl being lost both literally and figuratively. The girl’s name suggests is not Romanian just to mess up with people’s assumptions. She faces People’s Salvation Cathedral looking for her lost doll. In a split of a second she is in the same location, now a teenager looking for a hospital to have an abortion after rape. In the next scene the teenager, now a mature woman is nicely dressed making a stop in front of the colossal architectural nightmare on her way to her law firm. She is a successful lawyer suing the government for all the abuse she and others have faced over the years.

    At first look, Greetings from the Land of Pastries and Churches traces only one woman and her journey is, in a way, like a bildungsroman. At a deeper look, however, the piece actually reveals the frustrations and fights of generations trapped after communism. Finally, this piece has bits of words uttered in various languages that are currently spoken in Romania and by so doing to emphasize one more time that just because we are born in a country that does not automatically implies complete submission to one set of ideas, one language, one religion, etc.


  • Unpack
    A daughter unpacks her recollections of her late father. All memories are accompanied by a significant aural moment that happened in real life. A choreopiece based on loss.
  • Moss
    A grandma tells her granddaughter about a secret from her past fearing that the latter may do the same mistake as she was forced to do. An intergenerational story about the power of truth-telling and acceptance towards one's sexual needs.