The 50 Playwrights Project’s inaugural list of Latin@ Plays for College Theatres fills the gap in accessible resources tailored specifically to the unique demands of college theatre programs. Curated by a selection committee of college professors and theatre professionals, the list features plays chosen with the following criteria in mind:
- Plays must be written by a Latin@/x playwright.
- Plays must have received at least one full production.
- Plays must be contemporary works.
- Plays must have a minimum cast size of 6.
In addition, the selection committee chose plays that feature an age range suited for college students. The committee also considered gender parity in terms of the playwrights as well as roles for actors. The committee took roles for women into large consideration given the trend of having more women than men to cast in college programs. Not coincidentally, these plays facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and are ideally suited for course syllabi.
50PP’s Latin@ Plays for College Theatres List is a tool for directors and professors who are committed to updating the narrative of the American Theatre to include more Latin@ voices. Latin@ stories are systematically underrepresented on college stages in the U.S. despite the robust artistic production by Latin@ writers. The 50 Playwrights Project encourages theatre-makers to seek out the plays on our list and commit to equity, diversity, and inclusion in their college theatre programs.
*Selection Committee: Trevor Boffone, Cynthia DeCure, Lisa Portes (Bios below)
Latin@ Plays for College Theatres 2017
Electricidad by Luis Alfaro
The desert is on fire. It’s being consumed by fury as Electricidad, burning with hatred, keeps vigil by her murdered father’s corpse. She longs for the sweet revenge that will set his spirit free. When her brother Orestes returns from exile, Electricidad’s anger explodes, consuming everything in its path and leading her family to a final shattering confrontation. Subtitled “a Chicano take on Sophocles’ Electra,” Electricidad crackles with intensity, and transforms a 2000-year-old text into a vibrant, vital and thoroughly unforgettable myth for the modern age.
Cast: 8W 2M
Read Electricidad in the February 2006 issue of American Theatre Magazine.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Caridad Svich
Based on Julia Álvarez’s popular novel, In The Time of the Butterflies, is a fictionalized account of the story of the courageous Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic. The sisters inspired resistance cells throughout the country against the dictatorial regime of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The ‘butterflies’, their secret code name, were brutally murdered by the regime in 1960.
Cast: 6W 1M
To read In the Time of the Butterflies, contact Caridad Svich here.
Lydia by Octavio Solis
Set in the 1970s on the Texas border separating the United States and Mexico, Lydia is an intense, lyrical, and magical new play. The Flores family welcomes Lydia, an undocumented maid, into their El Paso home to care for their daughter Ceci, who was tragically disabled in a car accident on the eve of her quinceañera, her fifteenth birthday. Lydia’s immediate and seemingly miraculous bond with the girl sets the entire family on a mysterious and shocking journey of discovery. Lydia is an unflinching and deeply emotional portrait of a Mexican immigrant family caught in a web of dark secrets.
Cast: 3W 4M
To read Lydia, visit Samuel French.
The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta
Once upon a time, in a fishing village along the Amazon, there lived two sisters struggling to find their happily-ever-after. Helena is dreading her sister, Belmira’s, wedding. The groom, Duarte, should have been hers! And she knows that her sister only wants to escape their sleepy Brazilian town for an exciting new life in the city. But three days before the wedding, fishermen pull a mysterious stranger out of the river – a man with no past who offers both sisters an alluring, possibly dangerous future. Brazilian folklore and lyric storytelling blend into a heartrending tale of true love, regret, transformation, and the struggle to stay true to your family while staying true to yourself.
Cast: 3W 3M
To read The River Bride, contact Marisela Treviño Orta via the New Play Exchange.
Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Somewhere in Philadelphia, Elliot has returned from Iraq and is struggling to find his place in the world. Somewhere in a chat room, recovering addicts keep each other alive, hour by hour, day by day. The boundaries of family and community are stretched across continents and cyberspace as birth families splinter and online families collide. Water by the Spoonful is a heartfelt meditation on lives on the brink of redemption. Water by the Spoonful is the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Cast: 3W 4M
To read Water by the Spoonful, visit Dramatist Play Service.
Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz
Alejandro Arroyo owns the newest (and cleanest) lounge in New York City’s Lower East Side. His sister, Molly, has a nasty habit of writing graffiti on the back wall of the local police precinct. Officer Derek is a recent NYC transplant with something to prove. Lelly Santiago is a socially awkward college student who may have discovered that the Arroyo siblings’ late mother was one of the founders of hip-hop music. Two DJs/narrators/Greek chorus members spin the story in this hip-hop theatre coming-of-age story.
Cast: 2W 4M
To read Welcome to Arroyo’s, visit Samuel French.
Trevor Boffone is a Houston-based scholar, educator, writer, dramaturg, producer, and the founder of the 50 Playwrights Project. He is a member of the National Steering Committee for the Latinx Theatre Commons and the Café Onda Editorial Board. Trevor has a Ph.D. in Latin@ Theatre and Literature from the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. Trevor researches the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and community in Chican@ and Latin@ theater and performance. His first book project, Eastside Latinidad: Josefina López, Community, and Social Change in Los Angeles, examines the textual and performative strategies of contemporary Latin@ theatre-makers based in Boyle Heights that use performance as a tool to expand notions of Latinidad and (re)build a community that reflects this diverse and fluid identity. He is co-editing (with Teresa Marrero and Chantal Rodriguez) an anthology of Latinx plays from the Los Angeles Theatre Center’s Encuentro 2014 (under contract with Northwestern University Press).
Cynthia DeCure is an actress, voice, speech and dialects coach. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at California State University, Stanislaus.. She is certified in both Knight-Thompson Speechwork® and as Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®. She has taught at California Institute of the Arts, UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern California, and CSULA. A member of AEA, SAG/AFTRA, Cynthia is also a playwright. Her play Miss Quince premiered at the 2012 John Lion New Plays Festival and received a merit award from KC/ACTF. The play was featured in NoPassport’s 30/30 Festival. She served on the National Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild (1996-2001) and is currently on the Steering Committee of the Latinx Theater Commons. She is the Diversity chair for the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) and has presented at their national conferences in Chicago, Washington D.C., London and Montreal on empowering underrepresented voices, speech, and accents of Spanish. Cynthia is currently co-editing (along with Micha Espinosa) the upcoming book, Scenes for Latinx Actors: Voices of the New American Theatre.
Lisa Portes serves as the Head of Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Lisa is a founding member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and co-producer of the upcoming LTC Carnaval of New Latinx Work, to take place July 2018. A Chicago-based director, her work has been seen at Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Timeline, American Blues and Next Theatres. Regionally, she has directed and developed work for: Cincinnati Playhouse, CalShakes, Guthrie Theatre, Kennedy Center, South Coast Repertory Theatre Hispanic Playwrights Project, McCarter Theatre Lab, A Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Santa Barbara Theatre Lab and the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. In New York her work has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, the Flea Theatre and the Cherry Lane Alternative Theatre. Lisa currently serves on the board of Theatre Communication Group (TCG) and is the 2016 recipient of the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award for Directors. Upcoming projects include Breach by Antoinette Nwandu at Victory Gardens and Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías at Denver Center Theatre Company.