Check out my conversation with Caridad Svich on TCGCircle.org for NoPassport’s 30/30 Scheme!  Lots of musings on language, inspiration and the hard realities of creating theater in the OffOffBway world.

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The wonderful Tlaloc Rivas has assembled what is probably the best list to introduce the breadth, power and beauty of Latino playwriting in the US today.  I am honored to have marea included on this list which features such incredible talents such as Caridad Svich, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Naomi Iizuka, and Nilo Cruz.  

marea is a very special play and a very difficult one for me.  It is published in two forms: an early draft that was the version used in workshops at the Public and New Dramatists and a later draft which was the result of the incredible collaboration I had with Scott and the cast and company of Packawallop’s beautiful workshop of the play at HERE Arts Center in 2009.  I urge you to buy both versions and see the evolution of this play.  The first is in my collected plays and the 2nd is in Envisioning the Americas (which contains many plays by many of these writers!) both published by NoPassport Press.

No Passport’s 30/30

On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday is a part of this 30/30 scheme by NoPassport.  This is a nationwide event encouraging 30 days of 30 plays by Latino playwrights in the US!  Please pass this link on and get this happening near you!

I am happy to report that On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday was shortlisted for Philadelphia Theater Company’s McNally Award.  Although I didn’t get the brass ring this time, I am glad they liked the play enough that it made it to the final five.  

Folks, I am proud to announce I collaborated with composer Philip Wharton on a song featured in Operamission’s New Cabaret series!  Please see the information below on how you can hear this song!

Composer Michael Ching, baritone Michael Weyandt and conductor Jennifer Peterson are very excited to be presenting a wonderful batch of new songs this Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 8:00pm.

Join operamission for a wine and cheese reception, introducing the winning songs, composers, and singers of the little Cabaret Song Composition Contest we held on Twitter.  Singers, lyricists and composers found each other and risked one of the most intimate collaborations possible under the scrutiny of the public eye.  Not only did this generate great music –– it generated an endless number of stimulating conversations and loving discoveries.

With many of the composers at the piano, an outstanding selection of singers will perform these fresh and wonderful pieces, all written or premiered in the past year.  As an extra treat, singers will also bring you a sneak preview of a few scenes/speed-dates from Michael Ching’s latest opera-in-progress, Speed Dating Tonight, being produced at the Brevard Music Center’s new ‘Opera in a Box’ series this season, created in partnership with Dean Anthony.

COMPOSERS

Seth Bedford, Philippe Bodin, Clint Borzoni, Justin Capps, Michael Ching, Tom Cipullo,

Stefania de Kenessey, Martin Hennessy, Eric Hunter, Eric Moe, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Philip Wharton

SINGERS

Rebecca Brinkley, Cory Clines, Heather Engebretson, Seth Gilman, Candice Hoyes, Heather Meyer,

Margaret O’Connell, Marcy Richardson, Vira Slywotzky, Rosalie Sullivan, Eleanor Taylor, Caroline Worra

Tickets are $20 at the door

LOCATION: Opera America’s National Opera Center

330 Seventh Avenue, NYC 10001, at 29th Street, just off the 1-train

Go to the 7th floor and look to the left for all the fun people in the Rehearsal Hall.

Hey folks, I will be part of a very special Latinofabulous One Minute Play Festival at INTAR October 27 and 28!  My buddy Jorge Ignacio Cortinas will direct one of the plays (“Text”) I have in the festival and Alex Correia will direct the other one (“Test”). 

Not only do you get an amazing evening of theater, half your $15 admission will go to benefit INTAR, which is a theater devoted to the voices of Latino theater artists (and they gave me my very first NYC show back in 2000!).  

The NY One-Minute Play Festival of Latino Voice will take place Saturday, October 27th and Sunday, October 28th both at 8:00 p.m. at INTAR Theatre (500 West 52nd Street.) Space is extremely limited. Tickets are $15 and through Ticket Service X at www.intartheatre.org or at the door.

One-minute plays by nearly 30 of the most exciting established and emerging Latina/o playwrights were commissioned for this special event, prompted by OMPF’s unique playmaking process.

The festival will feature works by:

José Rivera, Kristoffer Diaz, Migdalia Cruz, Caridad Svich, Mariana Carreño King, Julián Mesri, Matthew Paul Olmos, christopher oscar peña, Flor De Liz Perez, Carmen Rivera, KJ Sanchez, Tanya Saracho, Tatiana Suarez-Pico, Andrea Thome, Cándido Tirado, Juan Franciso Villa, Maria Alexandria Beech, Raúl Castillo, Julissa Contreras, Fernanda Coppel, Michael John Garcés, Carmen Pelaez, Carlos Murillo, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, J. Julian Christopher, Alejandro Morales, & Gloria Calderón Kellett.

Directed By of Julián Mesri, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Jerry Ruiz, Melissa Crespo, Alex Correia, & Daniel Jaquez.

The One-­Minute Play Festival (OMPF) is an NYC-­‐based theatre company, founded by producing artistic director Dominic D’Andrea. OMPF works in partnership with theatres sharing playwright or community-specific missions across the country. In each city, OMPF creates locally sourced playwright-focused community events, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, and points of career.

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On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday

by Alejandro Morales 
directed by Scott Ebersold

Sunday, June 03 at 4:00PM 

Schapiro Theater,
Columbia University
615 West 115th Street

FREE ADMISSION

a staged reading of new work in development with a reception to follow

Featuring:  Maggie Bofill, Drew Cortese, Toni-Ann Denoble, Rachel Hip-Flores, Matthew Hurley, Sevrin Anne Mason, Maria Christina Oliveras, Julian Stetkevych, Ivan Quintanilla 

Just after the Cuban Revolution, Petronilla sets off Leningrad to study singing. Two encounters with two young Russian pianists set off a chain of life altering events that follow them all through the 30 year revolutionary relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.  Go here to make them.

I was recently rejected from a graduate program here in the City I really wanted to attend.  The reasons are mysterious as the admissions committee offered me no feedback apart from an electronic form letter rejecting me.  I have received a lot of love and encouragement from my peers and some very wise friends this week.  I will say that one of the victories of this entire process is I really worked very hard on my application and I think that it was the application of an extremely attractive candidate.  Whether I was an extremely attractive candidate for that particular program will remain a mystery for now, but I am extremely proud of myself.

One of the things about my application I am most proud of was my Artist’s Statement.  Like many others in my field, I detest writing these things.  My first draft was a whole bunch of bullshit and I decided I could not send that in.  I deconstructed it, turned it inside out and presented my heart instead.  I wanted to share it publicly on this blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

When I was 10 years old, my father took me to see a college production of West Side Story.  While I am sure the artistic merits of this production would not be to my taste today, my 10 year old self was mesmerized.  The first thing I remember impressing me was the use of a scrim.

In the theater you can see through walls.  

Then after the Rumble that ended Act One, I was surprised to see the very dead Riff and Bernardo come back to life and join the company in the “Somewhere” ballet.

In the theater the dead come back to life.

In the theater life can pause for a moment before it hurtles towards a tragic conclusion.

I soon became obsessed with musical theater and that obsession led me to a performing arts high school.  While there, I caught another college production that would change my life.   I didn’t know what to expect from Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding.  I never really took to plays like I did to musicals.  Too much talking, not enough lyricism.  Not enough poetry.  Lorca changed all that.  When the Bride and Leonardo run off together, the narrative drove the playinto a surreal psychosexual dream space.  Images of knives and vines and horses and vampiric moons came together to create a dramatic language I had never heard before.

In the theater words don’t need music in order to sing.

To this day, when I sit down to write a play, I am working on a blueprint for an experience like I had with those two productions: facades melt away, time stops and passions become so great the moon needs to speak.

Unfortunately, I have discovered these desires put me at great odds with the theater establishment.  I don’t see where my work fits at any of the major New York theaters (both uptown and downtown), which for some reason seem to focus on every kind of play but the ones I want to write.  Additionally, my plays are steeped in two very important aspects of my identity–my ethnicity and my sexuality.  Like it or not, this makes my work a hard sell.

However, many theater artists are in my position and we have no other choice than to use our creativity to create our own opportunities.  I have felt deeply empowered by being a part of Packawallop Productions, a company I co-founded and serve as Associate Artistic Director.  At Packawallop, I have been able to produce and develop both my work and the work of others.  I have also built a community that is enthusiastic, supportive and loving. Most importantly I have learned to create an aesthetic with a director, actors and designers that helps put my passions on the stage.

Despite my accomplishments as a self-producer, I am feeling a little fatigued as making theater in New York gets more challenging.  Fundraising and reaching my intended audience take so much energy.  If my theater career has involved balancing the roles of artist/playwright with producer/administrator, I feel the scales have been tipped towards the latter.  I feel discouraged and unsure of how to proceed.

Discouraged does not mean defeated.  

As I near my 40th birthday, I feel as if I am at a crossroads in my life and there are many new adventures to be had, including artistically.  In many ways I still feel like that ten year old sitting in a darkened theater waiting for that production of West Side Story to start.  I am hoping a graduate program will help me get in touch with my passions as a writer.  I am hoping these passions will light a fire in me that will inspire me to find new ways to forge ahead and be a productive and enthusiastic member of the theater community.  I want to be inspired so I can be inspiring.  I want my producorial choices to be guided by the work and not the other way around.  And perhaps there is more to learn that I cannot foresee.

… Surprises …

What more can the theater do?

What more can I do?

On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday Playlist

As a reminder this Monday, I am sharing a staged excerpt from my new play On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday as part of Packawallop’s Lounge Series.  Long time collaborators Scott Ebersold, Drew Coretese and Julian Stetkevych are working on this with me.  Don’t miss it!

More information and reservations here

A 15 minute scenes from On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday will be presented at Packawallop Productions Lounge Series directed by Scott Ebersold.  This event is very special as we are presenting five projects that Packawallop has helped develop during this year’s Pack meetings.  It’s a $10 donation and you get a great night of theater and a wine and cheese reception to follow.  Come check it out!

Make a reservation here (strongly recommended)