France Honors Israel Horovitz with the Insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters

April 3, 2012 | By French Culture

On April 3rd, 2012, Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor and head of the French Cultural Services confered the insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters on Israel Horovitz at the French Embassy in New York. Israel Horovitz presented a short play in French and English for the occasion.

‘Writing plays […] will certainly not change history, or replace night basketball, or cure cancer, but these three plays do form a small, detailed report of how life was lived in one tiny corner of our planet, Earth, in our time. I have faith in literature. I have faith in theater.’ (From the Introduction to ‘I am a Fountain Pen’, 1986-7)

Ionesco once referred to him as ‘Notre doux voyou americain’ – Our dear American rascal. He is a director, writer, actor, film-maker. He wrote his first play at 13, and to date has written more than 70 plays and 30 screen plays. Line, which he wrote in 1967, is in its 39th continuous year of performance in New York. He was a friend of Beckett’s in the Montparnasse of the late ‘60’s, and appeared with Genet at M.I.T. in support of the Panthers. He is the founding artistic director of Gloucester Stage Company. His plays have been performed by Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Jane Birkin, Pierre Dux, Line Renaud, Gerard Depardieu, Laurent Terzieff, Jill Clayburgh, Jason Robards among so many others. He is also the most produced American playwright in French theater history. These facts add up to a life that is astonishing enough: but beyond the facts and figures are the plays and screenplays, a body of work that is social, personal, radical: committed to creating those small, detailed reports of how life was lived, and to cajoling, criticizing, provoking and entertaining his audience into examining their own tiny corner of this planet. It is a body of work, and a life, that pays full tribute to the statements of faith Horovitz made in 1986: to literature, and to theater.

In celebration of his work, his relationship to France, and his contribution to arts and letters, the French government will present Israel Horovitz with the Insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, the highest rank of this award. At the ceremony Israel Horovitz will present a short play in French and English.

Bibliography: ISRAEL HOROVITZ’S plays have been translated and performed in as many as 30 languages, worldwide. His 70+ plays include: Line (now in 39th year of continuous performance, off-Broadway, at 13th St. Repertory Theatre), The Indian Wants The Bronx, Rats, Morning, The Primary English Class, The Wakefield Plays, The Widow’s Blind Date, Today I Am A Fountain Pen, Park Your Car In Harvard Yard, North Shore Fish, Fighting Over Beverley, Lebensraum , My Old Lady, Free Gift, Cat-Lady, Stations of the Cross, One Under, 50 Years of Caddieing, Speaking Well of the Dead, Unexpected Tenderness, Fast Hands, Security, A Mother’s Love, Sins of the Mother (IRNE Best New Play 2009), Compromise, The Secret of Mme. Bonnard’s Bath, Gloucester Blue, and The P Word. Screenplays include The Strawberry Statement (Prix du Jury, Cannes Film Festival), Sunshine (European Academy Award – Best Screenplay), New York, I Love You, and EMMY-nominated James Dean. Horovitz wrote, directed and performed the award-winning documentary 3 Weeks After Paradise, shown in the USA on Bravo, and performed on stage in Paris. Awards include the OBIE (twice), the Prix de Plaisir du Théâtre, The Prix Italia (for radio plays), The Sony Radio Academy Award (for Man In Snow), The Writers Guild of Canada Best Screenwriter Award, The Christopher Award, The Drama Desk Award, an Award in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Elliot Norton Prize, a Lifetime Achievement Award from B’Nai Brith. His memoires, entitled Un New-Yorkais à Paris, have recently been published in France by Grasset.

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