(This post is a part of the Diversity & Inclusion blog salon led by Online Curator Jacqueline E. Lawton for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas. Check out further Diversity & Inclusion interviews on Jacqueline’s blog.)
TCG Online Conference Salon: Diversity and Inclusion Program Arc–Latina/o Theatre series
JACQUELINE LAWTON: First, tell me about the work you do as a theatre artist or administrator.
ANNE GARCÍA-ROMERO: I’m a playwright, translator and theater studies scholar.
JL: How do you identify in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and heritage? How has this identity influenced the work that you do?
AGR: I’m a bi-cultural Latina. My mother is from New York City and is of English-Irish-German descent. My father is from Spain. I write plays that often explore the intersections of Latino/a and Anglo worlds. I translate plays from Spanish into English. I engage in Latino/a Theater Studies scholarship. My current book manuscript, Contemporary Latina Theater: Transcultural Voices, explores the work of five award-winning Latina playwrights: Cusi Cram, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Elaine Romero, Caridad Svich and Karen Zacarías.
JL: How has this identity impacted your ability to work in the American Theatre? Have certain opportunities been made available to you owing to “who” you are? Have certain doors been closed to you?
AGR: I’m very grateful that my first professional playwriting opportunity was at the Hispanic Playwrights Project (HPP) at South Coast Repertory with my play, Santa Concepción. I had only been out of my MFA in Playwriting program for a year and José Cruz Gonzalez, who was directing HPP, generously welcomed me into the HPP family. The artists I met that summer at HPP have influenced my playwriting path tremendously and I’m continually inspired by my Latino/a theater community.
JL: Do we need racial, ethnic and gender based culturally specific theaters? What is gained by having stories of a certain community told by artists of that community?
AGR: We need theaters that reflect the cultural complexity of the 21st century in this country. The works that arise from these theaters offer important perspectives that nourish our communities. We empower a community when their theatrical voices are valued, encouraged and supported.
JL: What is the current state of Latino/a Theatre? (This can address recent offences and/or great accomplishments.)
AGR: Latino/a Theatre is an artistically powerful and remarkably diverse community. I’m currently the co-chair of the steering committee for the Latino Theater Commons, a new national advocacy group that connects Latino/a theater artists from across the U.S. and celebrates the latest developments in the field of Latino/a theater. We’re working to generate new models of engagement and presentation of Latino/a theater that will illuminate the wide expanse of the field and allow audiences to experience multi-cultural Latino/a worlds on stage that reflect an ever-diversifying national reality.
JL: What can theatres do to better serve a larger and more inclusive community?
AGR: Theatres can program seasons that mirror the cultural multiplicity of their communities. Once they do so, theatres can dramaturgically contextualize and widely market these diverse plays so that audiences can fully appreciate and engage with the work.
Anne García-Romero’s plays include Provenance, Paloma, Earthquake Chica, Mary Peabody in Cuba, Land of Benjamin Franklin, Desert Longing, Juanita’s Statue and Santa Concepción. Her plays have been developed and produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, The Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Arielle Tepper Productions’ Summer Play Festival (Off-Broadway), The Mark Taper Forum, Hartford Stage, South Coast Repertory, INTAR, HERE, New Georges, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Borderlands Theater, Nevada Repertory Company, Jungle Theater and East L.A. Repertory. She’s received commissions from the NYSF/Public Theater, The Mark Taper Forum and South Coast Repertory. Her plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts and NoPassport Press. Ms. García-Romero is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and an alumna of New Dramatists. www.annegarciaromero.com
Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. She resides in Washington DC and is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena. jacquelinelawton.com