Middlebury College Student Feature:

Fate Will Have It

The hand of fate has played an important part in
the life of Middlebury College senior Coert Voorhees of Corrales,
New Mexico. The joint Spanish/theatre major took a Spanish course
in his sophomore year that required him to read The Toothbrush,
by the Chilean absurdist playwright Jorge Díaz. He read
it, and instantly felt he wanted to direct this play, and decided
to write an English translation. As he studied the play and other
works of Díaz, he discovered that little of the playwright
was known in the United States. So, to further his research, Voorhees
made the decision to spend his junior year in Chile, hoping to
meet the artist. Once he arrived there, however, he was told Díaz
was in Spain. But fate stepped in, and, while Voorhees was touring
an historic house in Chile, he passed a bulletin board and saw,
highlighted, an article about a nearby lecture that was being
given by Díaz in two days. Naturally, he went to the lecture
and introduced himself afterwards. Impressed by the young man,
Díaz gave him his phone number and weekly get-togethers
at a local coffee house ensued.

Voorhees finished his translation of The Toothbrush
in the spring of ‘95, sharing it with Díaz as he went along.
The play has been around for 30 years, but has never had a published
translation in the U.S. Voorhees will direct his translation of
The Toothbrush in February of 1997, from the 13th
through to the 16th, at the Middlebury College Center
for the Arts. The play has a cast of two-a man and wife-a technical
staff of six people, and music composed by Dylan Bolles ‘96. Said
Voorhees of his work, “At first it was fairly choppy and
sounded like a translation. But, now we have been rehearsing,
both the actors and I hear how it sounds and have made decisions
about changes. The play just lends itself to creativity.”

The production of The Toothbrush is another
step towards Voorhees’ goal. With a Fulbright scholarship in hand,
Voorhees, who will graduate in February of 1997, will head back
to Chile after producing the play. “I hope to come back with
a volume on Díaz. I plan to select 10 of his plays that
will show the different stages of his career,” he said. “The
volume will contain plays, translations, essays, interviews and
a biography of Díaz. He’s a wonderful man. I want to get
him well-known in this country. His works have relevance to U.S.
society today.”

But for now, the play’s the thing. “I’ve been
thinking about doing this for two years,” said Voorhees.
“It’s a great culmination of my college life. It’s been invigorating
to have something on my brain so much.”