10 Latinx Playwrights You Should Know
It’s still National Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, and we wanted to take the time to call your attention to a few of the many, many Latinx and Hispanic playwrights you should get excited about. In addition to reading about these locally and nationally-acclaimed writers, you should also check out the 50 Playwrights Project, which has, for the past three years, collected a list of plays by Latinx writers that have yet to be produced. (Their work draws on the goals of The Kilroys List, which also gathers titles by cis female and trans playwrights ready for production.)
Despite the level of artistic excellence evident in the expansive community of Latinx writers, the community is still underrepresented on American stages. The Asian American Performer’s Action Coalition (AAPAC) released data in 2018 that on Broadway that year, only 2.3% of plays produced were by a Latinx writer — and only 20.8 percent were by a BIPOC writer.
As the pandemic is proving to be an opportunity for overdue reflection and acknowledgment of inequities perpetuated at predominantly-white institutions, now is a great time to read through these writers’ bodies of work, and be in conversation with the artistic folks in your life about them. Whether you’re in the audience or behind the scenes, all theatre-lovers and workers should be in conversation about art that excites them. And with these writers, there’s a lot to be excited about!
As always, you can follow these writers on social media, or on the National New Play Network’s New Play Exchange.
Scheer’s Our Dear Dead Drug Lord recently had an acclaimed run at New York City’s WP theatre, but the play got it’s start right here in Boston, with Off the Grid Theatre Company and the Boston Center for the Arts. Coming up, you can see her play Laughs In Spanish, at the all-virtual National New Play Network 2020 Showcase.
Siañez-De La O is a local Mexican-American playwright whose work focuses on the political structures of the border. Currently a 2019-2021 Huntington Playwriting Fellow, his work will also be featured in Fresh Ink’s upcoming season, with his play Truth or Consequences, which follows two Agents from The Bureau of [REDACTED] as they spend a harrowing stay at The El Dorado Motel.
Bettis’ play 72 miles to go… was produced at Roundabout Theatre earlier this year, had to transition to a livestreamed format due to COVID-19. Like 72 miles to go…, which focuses on a family living through the current crisis at the U.S. and Mexico border, her other plays such as The Ghosts of Lote Bravo and Queen of Basel weave together themes of of family, legacy, and class.
A recent alum of Boston University’s Playwriting MFA, Pipes writes “high concept, playful, and political,” work that often exploring themes of Latinx and African-Amerian identity. Her 2019 play Dream Hou$e follows two Latinx sisters on an HGTV-style show who are selling their family home, hoping to capitalize on the gentrification in their “changing neighborhood.”
Coming to a home-theatre setup near you, Valdes’ Downtown Crossing is being released this month as the first play in Company One Theatre’s 2020-2021 season. The play, produced in collaboration with Northeastern University and Boston Public Library, is based on interviews and community meetings with local immigrants and immigrants rights’ advocates, exploring the joys, fears, and pride of living life as an immigrant to Boston.
Alberdi is a Mexican-Basque playwright & dramaturg who frequently writes about being queer, being Mexican, and/or being brought up Catholic. Also a poet, he received a commission from The Boston Project, and also was a finalist for the the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwright’s Center. Other development opportunities have led to work such as ¡Mamágua!, which is a coming-out story that blends supernatural horror and theatrical humor.
A long-time playwright of the Boston stage, Lopez says she has a “secret evil plan: to create complex, latina women and put them center stage.” Most recently, her adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s Yerma was produced at Huntington Theatre Company, breathing new life into the classic story of a young wife whose desire to have a child and turns into an all-consuming obsession with devastating consequences.
Alfaro is an L.A.-based Chicano playwright and an associate professor of dramatic writing at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation fellowship, his body of work includes adaptations of classic Greek dramas and a series called “This Golden State,” which examines faith in the California’s Chicanx communities.
From Fade to her adaptation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, El Nogalar, Saracho’s plays have been celebrated for some time now. The writer is now the showrunner of Vida on Starz, the story of two Mexican-American sisters who move back to their childhood home after the death of their mother.
Photo: Our Dear Dead Drug Lord with Off the Grid Theatre Company, via WBUR.