María Irene Fornés (b. 1931, Havana): The author of dozens of plays and winner of several Obie awards, Fornés is one of the most respected names in American theater. In 2000, Off-Broadway's prestigious Signature Theatre Company devoted its 10th anniversary season to her work, which includes Fefu and Her Friends, Mud, Abingdon Square and Letters from Cuba.  With the composer Robert Ashley, Fornés wrote Balseros, an opera based on the experiences of Cuban rafters and their efforts to reach the United States. It premiered in Miami Beach in 1997. Fornés moved from Cuba to New York in 1945; she was originally trained as an artist, but devoted herself to the stage after joining the Judson Poets Theater and the Open Theater in the 1960s. (Cintas for literature, 1967-68)

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