Name: Georgina Hernández Escobar
Hometown: I have many homes and many towns. But I was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.
Current Town: The Magnificent Isle of Manhattan.
Affiliations: Founder of One Blue Cat/Fourth Wall Productions; Early Career Writers Group at Clubbed Thumb, NYC; Translation committee champion for the Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC); Dramatist Guild member.
Q: How do you self-identify?
Q: Tell me about El Muerto Vagabundo.
A: It’s Day of a Dead play, with a dark twist. In this case, the dark twist is life, and how many people are unfortunately, treated as dead even while living. El Muerto Vagabundo is a commissioned based project at Milagro in Portland, OR. It was a devised piece that I had the privilege of directing and writing with a fantastic cast. It is a hyper-real narrative of the forgotten, namely, the homeless and the veterans. This story is about how their relationships to death brings them to the forefront when a curious kid lights a candle to during Dia De Los Muertos and by doing so, summons a “lost soul” that has been stuck under a bridge. The story is about bridges, it’s about connection, ritual, love and death. It has been a wonderful journey because I have been able to revamp and resurrect classic music that I grew up with including songs by Chava Flores and Cri-Cri. I was excited to be able to combine different mediums of story telling including project mapping animation, toy theatre, shadow puppetry, and dance. It was fun to write and the process was very rewarding.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a new commission with New York Children’s Theatre. It’s an adaptation of a children’s book called Zoongoro Bailongo about Jarochan musical instruments and combating pollution in the Mexican jungles. My spec-evo-femme play Sweep is premiering at Aurora Theatre in Georgia under the directorial helm of Abigail Vega this winter (February 2017) and the eco-musical I’ve been co-writing, Firerock, premiers in March in New Mexico—it’s the one with the singing otter…have I told you about that one? Well. There’s an otter. And he sings. I’m also part of the Early Career Writing Group at Clubbed Thumb Theatre in NYC. I’m excited about two new plays I’m writing too! I’m working on developing a 1980’s Mexican Catholic School Rock-Band musical called Chismografo at INTAR as part of the El Fuego initiative (so sometime in the next 3 years) and working on doing a co-production of a Future Frontera Funk called Candy Nothwithstanding—(previously called Mex-Men)—a super-fiction utopian tale about a devastating earthquake that turns the Rio Grande, into the Mar Bravo; making the divide between US and Mexico a violent, dangerous sea. The North, devastated by a second depression, smuggles people south via the “chicleros” and “cigarreros” (characters, I think, that only border people would recognize and that paint a very Gotham-esque world.)
I’m also painting. Always painting. And working on the never-ending opus which is Wayfoot: a five volume, multi-platform piece (graphic novel, music album, children’s book, stage play and screen play).
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: Playwriting is a branch of my life tree. It’s one of many that have defined my journey, and they all draw from the well of inspiration, love, and gratitude. Defining moments that shaped that particular branch consist of: A call from Jim Linnell that jolts me out of a potential life in the equestrian sciences, and towards a life in the theatre. Ash Tree wins the TYA National Award. I go the O’Neill as a playwright observer. I join as an intern. I become a Lit Associate. I lead writer warm-ups for NTI. I discover a New England winter. I take night walks and enjoy the sound of the waves in the dark. I reaffirm my love of solitude. I move back to New York City. Lisa Portes calls me about Sweep as a Carnaval selection. I see my grandmother deteriorate at the cruel hands of Alzheimer’s. I join Clubbed Thumb’s writing group. I see my grandmother deteriorate at the cruel hands of Alzheimer’s. I realize families, too, change…
Those, yes. And also every walk, every talk, every family encounter…The hundreds of letters and emails that include the words “Unfortunately” and “at this time we are unable to…” and “we are very impressed with your work but…” that remind me that writing begets writing, and that, above all, one must create because we know no other way; because every application, every rejection, every acceptance is an invitation to grow—and not a limitation.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: Bucky Fuller, Edward O. Wilson, José Vasconcelos, Samuel Ramos remind me of my grandfather. Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Kolbert, Lynn Nottage, Sor Juana remind me that I still have a mother. Alan Moore, Kurt V. and Neil Gaiman add a savory punch to my daily diet. I guess my mentors aren’t one person, one thing, one genre: but a general idea. I change my mind, they change their mind; words, like people, are often imperfect. But when combined with the right circumstance—powerful. I like the alchemic reaction that comes from the incomplete, the impermanent and the imperfect. The words of my heroes stay with me like dew; and they moisturize my soul. My favorite moisturizers are Borges, Allende, Del Toro, Lewis, Kushner. I am a fan of the people I talk to. I’m not good with small talk, and sometimes come across as cold—but when I engage in a deep conversation, I’m transformed. I’m interested in people’s stories, in their worlds, and I personally feel I grow so much from the deep engagements. So if we’ve had beers, shared laughs, played music together, it means I’ve grown with you— and so in many ways, you are my mentor and my hero.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Assume you know nothing. Be brave. Write. Read. Live. See art. Lots of it and lots of different mediums and forms. Stay away from hating or liking. Just be it. Just do it. Just live it. Opinions are weak. Questions are strong. Action is strongest. Remember that writing is a vulnerable form, and to be vulnerable is to be open—don’t be defensive. No one is attacking you, and if they are, then turn the other way. Clarity is overrated (thank you Sarah Ruhl via Anne Cattaneo). and Watch THIS (thank you Neil Gaiman)
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: I love the outdoors. Riding horses. Hiking. Spelunking. Camping. Bring it.
***For more on Georgina Escobar, see:
- Georgina Escobar’s Personal Website
- “Cafecito: Georgina Escobar” – Carla Della Gatta (Café Onda/HowlRound)
- “Ni de aquí, ni de allá/From neither here nor there” – Georgina Escobar (Café Onda/HowlRound)
- Georgina Escobar’s Writing on Café Onda/HowlRound
- Georgina Escobar’s Plays on the New Play Exchange