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A Closer Look: Playwrights' Week 2019

Playwrights’ Corner
Headshots of five playwrights in a row. From left to right, Diane Exavier, Shayan Lofti, Omar Velez Melendez, Jaymes Sanchez, and Ren Dara Santiago.

Playwrights' Week 2019 is next week, and we can't wait to share these five, incredible new plays-in-progress with all of you! Before you hear them live in our BareBones studio, we're giving you a closer look at what's gone into telling these stories so far. In the spirit of process, we asked each of the participating writers to read one of the other plays that will be part of Playwrights' Week, and interview its author about the inspiration and influences behind the piece. The result was five, rich, robust, and deeply thoughtful conversations about place, about displacement, and about home. From the Philippines to London, to a Florida that might actually be Puerto Rico but actually is Florida, from Texas to Brooklyn and even all the way to the Spirit Realm, these writers couldn't stop talking about setting, and in the midst of a national obsession with borders, we need their voices now more than ever.

Below are the five interview with the writers of Playwrights' Week 2019. Click to hear what each of them had to say then join us at the readings next week, or, hear them all speak at our Dramatists Play Service Sponsored Meet the Writers event on November 4th at 8pm! All tickets are FREE!


WE BUILT OUR HOMES NEAR KINGDOMS OF ANIMALS AND MAGIC by Omar Vélez Meléndez​
Interview by Diane Exavier

"It’s so frustrating. I don’t believe I’ve made a home, at least not really. Even with the privilege of a (non-solicited and forced) USA passport, I’ve never been able to call the USA home with a straight face. This country is systematically designed to let immigrants build a home for it to be tore down in the blink of an eye by the ever looming hand of Imperialism. However, this empire cannot and will not stop us from creating our corners of home. As long as there are borders, immigrants will always build their own tiny empires that are reminiscent of home." 

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SOMETHING IN THE BALETE TREE
by Ren Dara Santiago
Interview by Omar Vélez Meléndez

"I have always felt connected to darkness and the healing derived when we delve deeply. It echoes the state of our country right now— we are facing our darkness: in acknowledging the post-racial America of the 90’s was a fallacy for some and an insult for others, we are facing what seems to be a never-ending cascade of dark realizations; that money and power breeds more money and power and neither make room for the bountiful love or innovation from ethnocultural communities. Within our darkness, lies the truth." 

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PARK-E LALEH​ by Shayan Lotfi​
Interview by Ren Dara Santiago

"The impetus of the play was a news article I read on the application process in the UK for LGBTQ asylum seekers. The article was written as a sort of exposé on the interview stage of the process that expected applicants to ‘prove’ their queer identity through often graphic and invasive questions regarding their sexuality and sexual experiences. While the article had a justifiably critical perspective on the process, I actually found myself thinking of this interview as a sort of apt metaphor for the performative aspects of being an ‘other’ in the West..."

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BERNARDA'S DAUGHTERS by Diane Exavier​​
Interview by Jaymes Sanchez

"I had moved back into my childhood home with my mom and sisters. While I love my home, it has always been, for various reasons, a trap that is really hard to get out of. So, my friend said something like, “Omg, this sounds like The House of Bernarda Alba,” which I don’t know how I hadn’t thought of it first. We joked about how I was living this adaptation; and you can’t joke with a playwright about stuff like that because we’ll just write it."

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THE CUCUY WILL FIND YOU by Jaymes Sanchez
Interview by Shayan Lotfi

"Every Mexican-American kid in Texas has been told by a parent, grandparent, or other adult authority figure that 'if you don't behave, the Cucuy is gonna come get you and eat you.' It's an obvious ploy to scare children into giving their parents even a brief moment of peace and quiet. But I think this simple scare tactic implies a more complicated question of what it means to be a good child. It's easy when you're seven: just shut the hell up every now and then. But familial responsibility is a lot more complicated for adults." 

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