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The ABF Theater Becomes the Dr. Carl Djerassi Theater Hall

October 22, 2015

In 2013, legendary scientist Dr. Carl Djerassi saw a performance
of his play “Insufficiency” at the then brand-new America for Bulgaria Student Center. The play was among the first few productions to be performed in AUBG’s new theater hall. It is only fitting, then, that the theater now bears Dr. Djerassi’s name.

“This is a very special occasion for the Djerassi family,” said his son Dale at the Oct. 17 naming ceremony. He remembered his father’s great impressions of AUBG and its students during his visit and noted how “deep and highly appropriate” the naming felt.

Students, faculty and staff gathered to commemorate and honor Djerassi. Among the special guests were members of the doctor’s family, the AUBG Board of Trustees and former Bulgarian Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov.

Djerassi, who died in late January of this year at the age of 91, made a large contribution to AUBG in his will. In his long and distinguished life, he wrote books, scientific articles and plays, making the theater naming particularly appropriate.

Dierassi’s deep connection to the school culminated in 2013 when he spoke in front of the graduating class and was awarded AUBG’s Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

“It would have been impossible for us to fulfill [the university’s] mission had it not been for the generous support of people like the late Dr. Carl Djerassi,” said Ivan Manev, Chair of the Board of Trustees. Manev thanked the Djerassi family and assured them that AUBG’s outstanding students will put this contribution to good use.

Filip Dimitrov, former Prime Minister and AUBG professor, also spoke highly of Djerassi. He said the accomplished scientist and author is a role model to AUBG students.

“What we expect from our students and what most students expect from themselves is at some point of time to do something meaningful that can make a difference,” Dimitrov said. “I think when his name is at the door of this hall it will be inspiring for the students of this university.”

The evening included a screening of an interview with Djerassi from the documentary “49,172”, which chronicles the survival of Bulgarian Jews during World War II. Later, students presented a sneak preview of their production of “An Immaculate Misconception”, one of several plays Djerassi wrote. Directed by professor Nedyalko Delchev and Denitsa Pashova, it will premiere in December 2015.

Djerassi was born in Vienna in 1923 to an Austrian mother and Bulgarian father. He spent his childhood between Sofia and Vienna until the events of World War II forced him and his mother to move to the United States. He earned a PhD in chemistry and went on to make numerous advances in the field, most notably the oral contraceptive pill. After a successful science career, he devoted his last years to writing novels and plays.

“He lived a very large and long life,” Dale Djerassi said. “He died on his own terms and his lesson to us was how to live a very long and productive life.”

Story by Martin Georgiev
Photography by Ivan Sharkov

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