Luis Alfaro

Name: Luis AlfaroHeadshot Luis Alfaro

Hometown: Pico/Union in Downtown, Los Angeles, Califas

Current Town: Los Angeles with drive-by’s to Ashland, Oregon.

Affiliations: Playwright-in-Residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Playwrights Ensemble Member at Victory Gardens in Chicago

Q: How do you self-identify?

A: Chicano

Q: Tell me about Delano.

A: The first in a trilogy called “This Golden State” I am examining faith in the Central Valley of California, specifically Pentecostalism in the Chicana/o community.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A: I always have potentials on board. I am rewriting Mojada, my Medea adaptation, for a production at Oregon Shakespeare Festival next season. The second play in the trilogy, Modesto is moving along and I am translating a Shakespeare as part of the Play On project.

Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?

A: Studying with Maria Irene Fornes, being in a performance collective for ten years, teaching, working at the Mark Taper Forum for ten years, producing and commissioning so many other artists. I have been lucky to have a life in the regional theatre, so I get produced at least once a year somewhere with a new play and being in residence at theatres that I return to, like Victory Gardens in Chicago and the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, is good for the soul, like visiting family.

Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?

A: Irene Fornes, Paula Vogel, Mac Wellman, Gordon Davidson, Henry Godinez, Lisa Peterson, Luis Valdez and folks not in our field that have made me a better playwright; the poets Terry Wolverton and Eloise Klein Healy. I recently got to host at USC two of my heroes celebrating the 20th anniversary of their novels – Jessica Hagedorn (Dogeaters) and R. Zamora Linmark (Roling the R’s) and realized how much they both taught me about theatricality. I am deeply influenced by the writers I came of age with; Chay Yew, Alice Tuan, Han Ong, Jessica Goldberg, Annie Weisman, Octavio Solis, Cherrie Moraga, Migadlia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, on and on, to be able to not only call them colleagues but friends changed my life tremendously.

Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?

A: Do it all. Don’t ask for permission, offer apology later. Create the space for risk = failure. Learn every aspect of the theatre. I did lights, stage managed, ran sound cues, all of it and it showed me how to write for the stage. Find your tribe sooner than later. Your success belongs to the community and vice versa. Be nice to everyone up your ladder because you will meet them on the way back down (and we all get a down). Don’t criticize anyone’s work in public, there is too much of that, never walk out of a play. AND what you do is sacred and full of the spirit, stop selling yourself short.

Q: What else should we know about you?

A: I love teaching. I never write alone. Family first. I am all about the affirmative, maybe to a fault, but that’s okay, there’s enough negative in our field. My spiritual affirmation is this – “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore

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