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Phyllis Zatlin

Phyllis Zatlin

Phyllis Zatlin, photo credit Susan Harris Manos, 2010

It has been my good fortune to be part of ESTRENO Studies since its creation at Penn State University through the recent transfer to University of Southern Indiana. Martha Halsey, once she recovered from the surprise presentation of a book of tribute to her initiated by Robert Lima, quickly decided that it would be the first book in an ESTRENO Studies series. By that time, 1995, Martha was retiring from her faculty position but was still editing the journal Estreno and the series of  Estreno Contemporary Spanish Plays that had been developed under her leadership. Clearly she was not retiring from all her activities.

 I was invited to give a talk at Penn State; Martha warned me that hardly anyone showed up for a guest speaker. She was amazed that the large room was packed. The audience was there not to hear me but to honor Martha, who was much loved by her colleagues and students. Robert produced a copy of the book, wrapped as a gift; Martha was stunned when she opened the present and discovered a little book with articles by and about her.

Estreno in its three forms has traveled widely since Patricia O’Connor founded the journal at the University of Cincinnati in 1975. Only ESTRENO Studies remained at Penn State after the journal and the play series moved on to other universities. In 1999 the proceedings from Entre Actos, an international conference hosted at Penn State by Martha, appeared as ESTRENO Studies in Contemporary Spanish Theater 2.   

Several years were to pass before number 3 emerged. After I retired from Rutgers University, I decided to write my memoirs of friendships with authors in Spain and France as well as memories of how Pat and Martha helped me in my research. I sent the manuscript to Martha, seeking her advice on whether it was publishable. She responded with enthusiasm but was no longer well enough to tackle editing it by herself. That is when Mary Makris, at the University of Louisville, became general editor of ESTRENO Studies. Writers to Remember was published in 2015. It was followed in 2018 by the Spanish translation by José Sánchez Compañy. Escritores en el recuerdo was co-edited by ESTRENO Studies and Ediciones Oblicuas. The latest volume, Microtheatre:A Door County Debut of Short Plays from Wisconsin and Spain is thus ESTRENO Studies 5.

I have now been retired for almost fifteen years. Mary Makris is thinking about her own retirement. What would happen to ESTRENO Studies when she left academe?  As we worried about the future, David Hitchcock came to the rescue. He requested and received support from his university and is proceeding to give ESTRENO Studies new life and more visibility. Mary and I express our deep appreciation to David and the University of Southern Indiana.

- Phyllis Zatlin