El Fuego: Fueling the American Theatre with Latina/o Plays

(from l to r, the Carnaval 2015 Playwrights: Marisela Treviño Orta, Mando Alvarado, Diane Rodriguez, Emilio Rodriguez, Virgina Grise, Matthew Paul Olmos, Amparo Garcia-Crow, Georgina Escobar, Milta Ortiz, Magdalena Gomez, Octavio Solis, & Migdalia Cruz)

What is El Fuego?

El Fuego is an intiative of the Latinx Theatre Commons. During preperations for Carnaval 2015, the LTC put out a call to Latina/o theatres across the nation to secure productions for the 12 Carnaval selected Playwrights, and in less than 13 hours, 18 responded! After working with these theatres to match them with a playwright, we promote the culminating productions in several ways by:

1) Supporting the housing, travel, and per diem of the playwright, allowing them to be present for development and/or rehearsal time with the company,

2) Supporting the housing and travel of a Latina/o/x theatre scholar to attend rehearsals and performances, allowing them to document and write about the process and production, as well as paying the scholar for their work,

3) Providing national press for the intiative, and

4) Supporting the eventual publication of an anthology of these plays that also documents the intiaitive and the individual processes of these companies.

Six El Fuego Productions Produced in the First Year

Parachute Men by Mando Alvarado, produced by Teatro Vista (Chicago, IL)—September 10-October 16, 2016

Woman on Fire by Marisela Treviño Orta, produced by Camino Real Productions (Albuquerque, NM)—September 29-October 16, 2016

El Payaso by Emilio Rodriguez, produced by Milagro (Portland, OR)—January 12-21, 2017

Sweep by Georgina Escobar, produced by the Aurora Theater (Lawrenceville, GA)—February 10-March 5, 2017

MAS by Milta Ortiz, produced by Su Teatro (Denver, CO)—March 9-26, 2017

The Sweetheart Deal by Diane Rodriguez, produced by the Latino Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA)—May 4-June 4, 2017

The first year of the El Fuego Committed Theatres Intiative is generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).



October 11, 2016 (BOSTON)–The Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC), in partnership with HowlRound, proudly announces two inaugural productions of EL FUEGO, a directive to help grow, support, and ignite the American theatre with new Latina/o theatre works by supporting the full productions of work by the 2015 Carnaval featured playwrights. Both productions are world premieres.

Parachute Men by Mando Alvarado is currently being produced in Chicago, Illinois by Teatro Vista, from September 10 through October 16, 2016. Directed by Executive Artistic Director Ricardo Gutiérrez, the play centers on three brothers who admittedly “suck at being brothers, suck at love, and suck at being men.” On the anniversary of their mother’s death, the oldest brother returns after a long estrangement. After a few hours, it becomes clear that, in his absence, the pecking order of their relationship has changed. Thus the battle begins to restore or revolutionize their family. http://www.teatrovista.org/parachute

Woman on Fire by Marisela Treviño Orta will be co-produced by Camino Real Productions and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from September 29 through October 16, 2016 as the first production of the Center’s 2016-2017 Siembra: Latino Theatre Season. A reimagining of Sophocles’ AntigoneWoman on Fire will be directed by Valli Marie Rivera. Juanita, the unwilling heroine is haunted by the ghost of a woman who died while crossing the Arizona/Mexico border. Torn between the laws of man and the laws of spirit, Juanita must decide whether to risk losing her marriage in order to give the restless spirit the proper burial it demands.  http://www.nhccnm.org/event/siembra-latino-theatre-season-woman-fire/

EL FUEGO: Fueling the American Theatre with Latina/o Plays, was sparked by the game-changing 2015 LTC Carnaval of New Latina/o Work (Carnaval 2015), which took place on July 23-25, 2015 at The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. This event brought together over 200 Latinx and allied theatremakers to celebrate and promote Latinx playwrights and encourage nationwide productions of these vibrant voices.

T​he desire to showcase new Latina/o plays to potential producing organizations was only a starting place for the LTC. To move the field forward and ignite American stages with Latina/o stories, the LTC Steering Committee released a bold and daring call to theatres across the US: “Will you commit to a full production of one of Carnaval 2015’s featured playwrights, sight unseen?”  The energy created by this inspiring call was so great that in less than twenty-four hours, twelve partner theatres committed to producing at least one work by one of the featured playwrights before they had even been selected. This monumental first for the American Theatre quickly became EL FUEGO, a historic initiative that expands the model of new play development and recalibrates the traditional, and often inequitable, theatrical pipeline. The number of committed theatres continued to grow to eighteen before Carnaval 2015 took place. This cohort is comprised of nationally recognized theatres from all over the country, all working towards a more inclusive and innovative field for artists and audiences. All twelve playwrights featured at C​arnaval 2015 will be produced by eighteen different theater companies across the United States by  2020.  

In addition to the two productions in September, other EL FUEGO projects are slated for the 2016-17 season:

El Payaso by Emilio Rodriguez will premiere at Milagro in Portland, Oregon, from January 12 through the 21t, 2017, and tour nationally through November 2017. Directed by Georgina Escobar (another EL FUEGO playwright), this eco-drama follows the journey of a young Latino, fresh from college with an environmental science degree, heading to Nicaragua for a chance to make a difference in small rural villages. His journey honors the work of the late Ben Linder, whose memory lives on in the work of Clowns Without Borders and various environmental groups that are collaborating to bring this story to life. With red noses and humor, the performers will share the value of “thinking globally, while acting locally.”  http://milagro.org/event/el-payaso/

Sweep by Georgina Escobar, will premiere at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Georgia, from February 10 through March 5, 2017. Directed by Abigail Vega, Sweep is the story of Luna and Siri, two hit-women of the multiverse armed with deadly broomsticks bound to sweep mistakes into oblivion. But when they fail to clean up Adam and Eve’s apple situation they find themselves on a cosmic journey through time. With Dragon Con sensibilities this play is rife with the humor and adventure of a great graphic novel. http://www.auroratheatre.com/on-stage/2016-2017-ggc-harvel-lab-series/sweep/

Más by Milta Ortiz, will open at Su Teatro, in Denver, Colorado, from March 9 through March 25, 2017. Under the direction of Artistic Director Anthony J. Garcia, the docudrama is based on a true story that highlights the struggle between students, teachers, and Tucson Unified School District when Mexican-American Studies (MAS) was banned from curricula. The community struggles to hold onto their history, identity, and humanity as they fight to save Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. http://suteatro.org/

“EL FUEGO is doing what the LTC does best—facilitating relationships and combining our collective resources to promote the field,” says Lisa Portes, Head of MFA Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University and the LTC Steering Committee member and champion behind Carnaval 2015. “This initiative is the culmination of everything the LTC has been working towards over the past three years. We are igniting a spark, and we hope other companies follow suit.” EL FUEGO is an exciting step toward the inclusion and diversity of stories in the American theatre that came to fruition as a result of the LTC. The LTC will track the progress of every collaboration and project as they develop, and will work with the partner theatres to ensure the productions are supported at every step of the process by ensuring the playwright is present for the process and that a dedicated Latinx theatre scholar is documenting and writing about the process and production.

EL FUEGO producing partner theatres are:

●  Aurora Theatre (Lawrenceville, GA)

●  Borderlands Theater (Tucson, AZ)

●  Camino Real Productions (Albuquerque, NM)

●  Cara Mía Theatre Co. (Dallas, TX)

●  Duende CalArts (Valencia, CA)

●  El Teatro Campesino (San Juan Bautista, CA)

●  GALA Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC)

● Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center & San Antonio Latino Theatre Alliance (San Antonio, TX)

●  INTAR Theatre (New York, NY)

●  Latino Producers Action Network  (San Diego, CA/Los Angeles, CA)

●  Latino Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA)

●  Milagro (Portland, OR)

●  Su Teatro (Denver, CO)

●  Teatro Avante (Miami, FL)

●  Teatro Prometeo (Miami, FL)

●  Teatro Luna (Chicago, IL/Los Angeles, CA)

●  Teatro Vista (Chicago, IL)

●  Teatro Vivo (Austin, TX)

Every C​arnaval 2015 featured playwright will receive at least one production by 2020 at one of these theatres, with many receiving co-productions and commissions of new work.

C​arnaval 2015 ​playwrights are:

●  Mando Alvarado (Los Angeles, CA)

●  Migdalia Cruz (New York, NY)

●  Georgina Escobar (New York, NY)

●  Amparo Garcia Crow (Austin TX)

●  Magdalena Gómez (Springfield, MA)

●  Virginia Grise (New York, NY)

●  Matthew Paul Olmos (New York, NY)

●  Milta Ortiz (Tucson, AZ)

●  Diane Rodriguez (Los Angeles, CA)

●  Emilio Rodriguez (Detroit, MI)

●  Octavio Solis (San Francisco, CA)

●  Marisela Treviño Orta (San Francisco, CA)

To download the Fall 2016 press release (below), click here

Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC) Announces All 12 Playwrights from CARNAVAL 2015 Promised Production by 18 Theatres Nationwide

The LTC's newest intiative, EL FUEGO, launches now to support theatermakers!

CHICAGO – The Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC), an active initiative of HowlRound, proudly announces that all 12 playwrights presented at July’s  Carnaval 2015 are being produced by 18 different theater companies across the United States over the next three years. LTC is launching the new initiative, EL FUEGO: Fueling the American Theatre with Latina/o Plays, to help grow, support and ignite the field with new Latina/o theater works.  Carnaval 2015 at  The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago,gathered together  over 200 Latina/o and allied theatremakers  to celebrate and promote  Latina/o playwrights and encourage productions of these vibrant voices nationwide.

“We are doing what the LTC does best—facilitating relationships and combining our collective resources to promote the field,” says Lisa Portes, Head of MFA Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University and Carnaval 2015 Champion. “This initiative is the culmination of everything the LTC has been working towards over the past three years. We are igniting a spark, and we hope other companies follow suit.”  

In early 2015, members of the LTC Steering Committee were approached with the idea of  securing production for every one of the Carnaval 2015 Featured Playwrights before 2019.  This desire  to  ignite US stages with Latina/o stories became a historic initiative with 12 theaters committing in less than 24 hours.  The number then grew to 18 theaters and is made up of nationally recognized theaters in Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and beyond.

This exciting step forward towards inclusion and a diversity of stories in the American Theatre is just one more in a line with the visionary work that has come to fruition as a result of the LTC.

The LTC will track the progress of each of the collaborations and projects as they develop over the next few years, and will work to ensure the productions are supported at every step of the process.

To download the full Fall 2015 press release, click here.

About the Carnaval 2015 Playwrights

Mando Alvarado is an award-winning playwright/screenwriter from South Texas. His play Basilica premiered Off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theater in NYC. His play Post No Bills received its Off-Broadway premiere at Rattlestick Playwright's Theater. His play Diablo Love had its world premiere at Central Park's Summer Stages. They also produced A King of Infinite Space, a Hamlet/Pearl Jam mash-up and Sangre, an adaptation of Blood Wedding. He co-wrote the book for the bilingual musical A Yellow Brick Road, an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz for Theaterworks USA which received its critically acclaimed Off-Broadway premiere at The Lortel. His first feature film, Cruzando, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Michael Ray Escamilla is available on DVD and was distributed by Vanguard Cinema. He is a member of Rising Phoenix Rep, alum of INTAR’s Hispanic Playwright-in-Residence Laboratory 2006–2008, and a graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He’s currently writing on Greenleaf for the OWN Network.

Migdalia Cruz was born and raised in the Bronx, where she wrote her first play at age six. Since then she has written more than fifty works, which have been produced across the United States, and in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Australia, Greece, the UK and Turkey. She is thankful for being nurtured by New Dramatists, Sundance, the Lark’s México/US Word Exchange, and by Maria Irene Fornés at INTAR. Current projects: a modern translation of Macbeth for OSF's Play On; an After Orlando play; a Kennedy Center commission; an opera about poverty and terrorism;  and a play about TB and marriage and memory.

Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua native Georgina Escobar is a Manhattan-based playwright, visual artist, and imagineer of the strange. Escobar’s credits include: El  Muerto Vagabundo (Milagro Theatre, Portland OR); Matted as part of No Passports response to Orlando (Finborough Theatre, London; Orlando Shakespeare), Sweep (Aurora Theatre 2017, GA; Lincoln Center Theatre’s Directors Lab 2016; Brooklyn Generator 2014), The Unbearable Likeness of JONES (Dixon Place, NYC), Wayfoot (in development at INTAR; originated at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference, 2014), The Ruin (Words Afire, NM) Firerock: Pass the Spark (Z Space 2017, CA; Lensic, 2012, NM). She is the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s National Theatre For Young Audiences Award for Ash Tree (Duke City Repertory, 2012, ASSITEJ Festival Denmark and Sweden 2011). She is the founder of Fourth Wall/One Blue Cat Productions and Steering Committee Member for the Latina/o Theatre Commons. www.georginaescobar.com

Amparo Garcia-Crow acts, sings, directs, and writes plays, screenplays, and songs. As a playwright, Garcia-Crow has been developed at South Coast Repertory Theatre and Mabou Mines, had world premieres Off-Broadway, at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and Latino Chicago.  Her films have premiered at SXSW, the Los Angeles Latino International, Cine las Americas and PBS. A former TCG/NEA Director’s fellow and James Michener fellow, her collection is Between Misery and the Sun:  The South Texas Plays.  As an Equity and SAG actor she (or her voice) appears in unexpected television, film, and video games.

Magdalena Gómez is the author of Shameless Woman, a memoir in poems, published by Red Sugarcane Press, NYC. She is a cultural organizer, playwright, and performance poet since 1971. Her most recent residencies at a theatre include: The University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign); Djerassi; and Goddard and Springfield Colleges. This October, her performance poem America, You are a Disappointing Lover will be performed at the Brooklyn Academy of music by the sixteen-piece Eco-Music Big Band with actor Marina Celander and under the direction of Marie Incontrera. Magdalena is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Teatro V!da.  www.magdalenagomez.com

From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa, Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. A recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, and the Yale Drama Series Award, her published work includes blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). She earned her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Grise is currently writing an adaptation of the novel Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena Maria Viramontes, commissioned by Borderlands Theater and the National New Play Network. www.virginiagrise.com

Matthew Paul Olmos is a three-time Sundance Institute Fellowship/Residency recipient, New Dramatists Resident Playwright, Princess Grace Award winner in Playwriting, Ensemble Studio Theatre lifetime member, National Latino Playwriting Award winner (Arizona Theatre Company), and was named by Sam Shepard as the inaugural recipient of the La MaMa e.t.c.'s Ellen Stewart Emerging Playwright Award. He is a Djerassi Playwright Initiative Fellow, Nautilus Composer-Librettist writer, Baryshnikov Arts Center Resident Artist, Dramatists Guild Fellow, two-time INTAR Theatre H.P.R.L. playwright, New York Theatre Workshop fellow, Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer, terraNOVA Collective playwright, Rising Circle Collective playwright, and a two-time Resident Artist at Mabou Mines/Suite, mentored by Ruth Maleczech. His work is produced nationally and in México; also in Spanish, as well published by NoPassport Press and Samuel French. For more information: www.matthewpaulolmos.com

Marisela Treviño Orta is a second year playwright in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Her plays include: American Triage (Repertorio Español 2012 Nuestras Voces Runner-Up); Braided Sorrow (2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama, 2008 Su Teatro world premiere, 2009 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Drama); and Heart Shaped Nebula (2015 Shotgun Players world premiere). Marisela is a founding member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network and a member of the Latina/o Theatre Commons Steering Committee. Currently Marisela is working on cycle of Latino fairy tale plays which include The River Bride (2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival world premiere), Wolf at the Door, and Alcira.    

Milta Ortiz is a playwright from the Bay Area now in Tucson by way of Chicago. Currently working on Solving for X (playwright/director) for the Working Classroom, 20th Annual A Tucson Pastorela, and Sanctuary. As an NNPN playwright in residence at Borderlands Theater, she wrote and developed Más which premiered at Borderlands Theater in fall 2015, nominated for an American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award and Citations, and a Tucson Mac award for best drama. Más was co-produced in the Bay Area by Laney College in March 2016 and Ubuntu Theater Project in May 2016 and will go on an Arizona University tour in the 2016/17 season. Other produced plays include Sonoran Shadows (a shadow play), 19th Annual A Tucson Pastorela, Disengaged, 18th Annual A Tucson Pastorela, Fleeing Blue, Scatter My Red Underwear. Milta worked extensively as a teaching artist and received individual artist grants to write, develop and produce her solo work in the Bay Area. As a founding member of the HyPE theater ensemble, she devised pieces to be performed site specifically and on stage. She teaches theater at Pima Community College. Milta earned an MFA from Northwestern University’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program and a Creative Writing BA from San Francisco State University. Milta’s is Marketing & Outreach Director at Borderlands Theater.  She is proud to be mommy to a bubbly toddler.

Diane Rodriguez is an Obie Award winning, multi-disciplinary theatre artist who writes, performs, directs, and produces. She is Associate Artistic Director at Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles. Her play Living Large was produced in 2012 by Teatro Luna (Jeff Awards Recommended). Living Large was produced again at 16th Street Theatre in the Spring of 2013 directed by Ann Filmer. Diane was a writer for Mattel, Inc from 2009-2014, where she wrote for the Barbie Live division, writing the book for Broadway scale Barbie musicals that toured internationally in Latin America, the Pacific Rim, and China.  Currently, she is a cultural consultant for the Disney Family Network's animated series Elena of Avalor. Her two play anthology titled Latins Anonymous written collectively with Latin Anonymous is in its 23rd printing. Her most current play The Sweetheart Deal will premiere in 2017. She served eight years and three terms as president of the Theatre Communications Group board,  and is a 2016 Obama appointee to the National Council on the Arts.

Emilio Rodriguez is a theatre artist nomad currently residing in Detroit. His theatre career began with improvised one kid adaptations of The Wizard of Oz in his parent's living room at the age of two. Since then, his plays have been read at various festivals including Latina/o Theatre Commons' Carnaval of New Work, Teatro Vivo's Austin New Latino Play Fest, The Great Plains Theatre Conference and The Landing Theatre's Redemption Series. When not writing, Emilio is a teaching artist who enjoys watching marathons of Law and Order SVU in whatever hotel room he visits.

Octavio’s plays Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, Cloudlands (co-written with Adam Gwon), The Pastures of Heaven, Ghosts of the River, Lydia, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Santos & Santos, and many others have been mounted across the country. His drama, fiction, and poetry have been published in the Arroyo Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Zyzzyva, Catamaran Literary Reader, and the Chicago Quarterly Review. His anthology The River Plays is published by NoPassport Press. He is a United States Artists Fellow, New Dramatists alum, member of the Dramatists Guild and has most recently been awarded the Pen Center USA Literary Award for Drama for Se Llama Cristina. www.octaviosolis.net


Press photos are available upon request.