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"People say, 'Oh no, the institutions in the United States can support anything. We are safe.' No, beware. Nothing is safe. Nothing is forever. Everything can change. We have to be aware of that and be therefore very alert. I wouldn't say vigilant because the word vigilant has a double meaning, but alert."

That's Chilean author Isabel Allende in conversation with playwright Caridad Svich, who won a 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for her adaptation of Allende's 1982 novel, The House of the Spirits. The play, presented by UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies in spring 2019, tells the story of a family that spans three generations and a century of violent change in an unnamed Latin American country.

The conversation, part of Berkeley Arts and Design's public lecture series, was held on April 25, 2019, at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). It was moderated by Michael Moran, who directed the Berkeley production.

During the talk, Allende discussed how she grew up in Chile, where she and her family lived through the 1973 military coup, then fled to Venezuela as refugees. While living in Venezuela, Allende felt sick with nostalgia for her country and the family she left behind. And she was also in pain knowing that people — her friends and family — were dying in Chile. Writing, she says, helped her process her grief and begin to heal.

Read the transcript and listen on Berkeley News.


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