Name: Bernardo Cubría
Hometown: Mexico City/Houston
Current Town: Los Angeles
University of Houston, INTAR, Inviolet Theater, Ammunition Theatre Company
Q: How do you self-identify?
Q: Tell me about Neighbors.
A: I was born in Mexico but grew up in los United States, so I’ve spent my entire life straddling these two worlds and thinking about the relationship between these two countries. Why is it that Mexicans spend so much time obsessing over the US and A? What do we expect from the US as neighbors, what exactly do they owe us, and what do we owe them? I’ve wanted to write a play about this for a long time, but I wasn’t interested in writing a polemic about government or the “drug war.” So I decided to explore this through Satire, because Satire is my favorite form. One of my favorite quotes is from Gary Shandling who said “don’t get mad, get funny.” And I hope that’s what I’m doing with this play.
Here’s the set up—a guy named Joe shares land with a guy named Jose, who is going through the worst time of his life. Jose asks Joe for help and they go into business together. What follows is hopefully funny and tragic at the same time.
And I really love this play. I’m so excited about it. After a lot of work on it, I hope the play ultimately is about two men and how they forge a friendship under unlikely circumstances, and how business tears it apart.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’m always doing my weekly podcast Off and On: A New York Theatre Podcast, where I sit with theatre people one on one and interview them. My wife calls it my “free therapy.” For me it’s a chance to sit with theatre people and ask them, “why the hell they do this for a living?”
My latest play is called Gringolandia 1776-2020. It’s a satire about the fall of the empire known as Gringolandia.
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: The first was when my cousin Tano and I wrote a play for our family called La Familia en Diez Años. It killed in the living room of my grandparents’ house. The next ones have been mostly about finding my communities. Inviolet Theater has been such an amazing supporter of my writing and without them I never would have had the opportunity to develop my plays. INTAR is where I have met so many of my mentors and fellow Latino writers who have helped nurture me and guide me. Lastly here in L.A, I was lucky enough to have Ammunition Theatre Company produce my play The Judgment of Fools. They have become my home in Los Angeles.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: Mando Alavardo is number one. As an actor I have now been in 8 of his plays. He’s my favorite playwright—and least favorite person to be in a fantasy football league with. He has an amazing way of making you laugh for the first three fourths of his plays and then he hits you with “la reversible” and makes you reexamine your life. His latest play Parachute Men should be produced all over the country.
Also Coppell, Saracho, Castillo, Pinter, Rivera, Olmos, Albee and of course Shakespeare, I love me some pinche Shakespeare.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Write every day. Find the people who turn you on artistically and make shit with them. Get in the room as often as you can, no matter how big or small, and make it happen. Don’t worry about other people, and don’t compare yourself. Support your community and do the work and your stories will be heard.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: I am thrilled to be married to my wife, a super talented film editor. My parents are beautiful human beings and my brothers make me a better person. I have two nieces and one nephew who I adore. And my grandmother Abu, a four foot tall Yucateca who swears like a soldier, is the coolest lady alive.
***For more on Bernardo Cubría, see:
- Bernardo Cubría’s Personal Website
- Off and On: A New York Theatre Podcast
- “Spotlight On…Bernardo Cubría” – Theater in the Now
- Bernardo Cubría on New Play Exchange
- Follow Bernardo Cubría on Twitter
- “Sin Muros: Interview with Neighbors Playwright Bernardo Cubría” – Trevor Boffone (The Theatre Times)