In memoriam: Professor Laurietz Seda Ramirez

Many have heard about the sad news that our dear colleague, Laurietz Seda Ramirez, passed away on December 7, 2021.

Her trajectory as a researcher was, and will continue to be, a source of pride for our Spanish section and the department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages. Those of you who have read her books, such as Teatro contra el olvido (U Científica del Sur 2012), La nueva dramaturgia puertorriqueña (Ateneo Puertorriqueño 2003, 2007), Travesías trifrontes: Teatro de vanguardia en el Perú, Trans/Acting: Latin American and Latino Performing Arts (Bucknell UP 2009) and Teatro de frontera 11/12 (U de San Marcos 2008) understand this statement perfectly. She was internationally renowned, as one of the most prominent figures in the field of Spanish American theater.

Her work as editor, critic, and scholar of dramaturgical theater leaves a significant mark. She always interpreted textual theater together with dramatic practice, ritual, and human presence. Pre-pandemic, this perspective forged an itinerary of remarkable travels and residencies. She had an adventurous spirit and this led her to seek fearlessly out theatrical life in unexpected places: in abandoned factories, in urban ruins, in squares and streets, in destitute neighborhoods, in mountain ranges and tropical jungles. Her journeys informed her academic writing; she was able to understand the intimate relationship between globalization and theater, particularly in late capitalism and liquid modernity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she studied synchronously performed virtual theater and managed to teach her last graduate seminar while facing a grueling illness. Despite this, her conversations with colleagues and students stemmed from a need to understand how these forces were reshaping the lines of an art form she knew intimately.

Above all, she taught us in the classroom and through her publications.  We celebrate the traces she has left in the history of our section and in our department. The study of Spanish American theater was of great importance in our curriculum.  Her graduate students found themselves acting and directing as a way of investigating theater as a bodily practice, a social event, a live act. The importance of her contribution to Latin American theater and its presence in the United States can be gauged by the LATT (Latin American Theatre Today) conference in 2005, in which Storrs turned into the epicenter of Latin American theater for a few days. The hemisphere’s main voices in criticism and dramaturgy, as well as renowned actors and theatrical collectives, collected for the gathering. It was one of the most successful Latin American theater conferences and festivals held in the northeastern United States. Laurietz seized on the occasion of this intellectual and artistic meeting to create the prestigious George Woodyard Latin American Theater Award in an effort to celebrate the achievements of Latin American playwrights.

In addition to her academic work, she was a great mentor, colleague and friend. We will remember her humanity: her professionalism, her camaraderie, her ability to work in a group, and to listen and understand students and colleagues. Laurietz was kind and creative, elegant.  She was a reserved and loyal friend, with an endearing and cordial manner. She made her home in several countries and continents from her beloved island, Puerto Rico to Peru, from Connecticut to Granada (Spain).

We have lost not only a member of our Spanish section,  but someone who has marked our lives in countless ways over the last twenty-four years. One way to honor her memory is not only to continue reading the works she bequeathed to us, but also to keep her in mind as an example of the best that our profession has to offer.