Name: Alvaro Saar Rio
Hometown: Houston, TX
Current Town: Milwaukee, WI
Affiliations: The Royal Mexican Players, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say
Q: How do you self-identify?
A: Most days I identify as brown. On other days, I’m Mexican-American.
Q: Tell me about Luchadora!
A: After discovering her grandmother was a masked wrestler, a Latina Wisconsin teen begs to hear the story. As the grandmother shares her tale about growing up in 1960’s Texas, her life as a teen tomboy comes alive–bike riding, running her father’s flower stand and lucha libre. The play is inspired by the Chinese folktale “Hua Mulan.” You can get a copy of the play through Dramatic Publishing.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a play called Blue Bullets. It’s set in a neighborhood bakery in Houston in the late 70’s. It follows a bakery owner who ignores the needs of her community until a close friend becomes a victim of police brutality. I’m also working on docu-drama called This is Washington Park. This is Milwaukee. The play is being created from oral histories collected from Milwaukee’s Washington Park neighborhood.
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: When I was an undergrad at Houston Community College, a faculty member asked me to write a play for the school. If I agreed, I would be paid a grand sum of $250. I said “yes” even though I had never written a play. I still remember the rewrites, false starts, and abandoned scenes. Just the experience of creating something that would be seen by my fellow students and teachers had a big effect on me. From that moment, I knew this is what I wanted to do for a long long time.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: In graduate school, Rebecca Gilman had a big impact on my writing. One time she told me, “Don’t be afraid to leave things messy.” That advice continues to guide my work. As for my playwriting heroes, I have tons. August Wilson. Lanford Wilson. Rebecca Gilman. José Rivera. Tanya Saracho. Laura Eason. Marco Ramirez.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: #1. Your play matters as much as any play written by those playwrights we consider as great. Don’t let anyone tell you different. #2. After you finish writing a play, take all the creativity energy you have and start writing another one. You won’t regret it.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: From time to time, I write radio essays about playwriting for Milwaukee Public Radio. You can find them here.
***For more on Alvaro Saar Rios, see:
- Purchase Luchadora! at Dramatic Publishing
- “Couple Wrestles with Latino Subject Matter” – UWM 2015 Research Report
- “Alvaro Saar Rios’ Inspiration Behind ‘Luchadora!’” – Amanda Sullivan (Shepherd Express)
- “Yes! Non-Latina/o Actors Can be Cast in Latina/o Roles” – Alvaro Saar Rios (Café Onda/HowlRound)
- “Can you tell me where the revolution is tonight?” – Alvaro Saar Rios (Nuestra Palabra Blog)
- The Royal Mexican Players
I loved Luchadora! Saw it at the Dallas Children’s Theater not too long ago. Looking forward to seeing more of your work, Alvaro!
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Just saw your play, Lucadoro, at the Univ. of Houston November 19th. Excellent story with a terrific message for all. Laughed and enjoyed this clever presentation.