101 Plays by The New Americans, or on Latinidad

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A couple of realizations have emerged from the National Gathering of the Latina/o Theatre Commons in Boston. Among them are two that pertain specifically to the knowledge and accessibility of Latina/o plays.  We recognize that: 1. There is a great need for a catalog or list of Latina/o works for the general public, and 2. we need to determine which plays we presently consider to be influential works to us as theater makers.

We conducted a survey, soliciting and receiving dozens of submissions. We also created a word-cloud that highlighted the names of the individuals and plays which inspired us as well as works that should be included in the canon of great dramas.

From this survey I created a list of 101 works, most of which were gleaned from the survey, but others that readers may not have read or heard of. Ideally, this is a list that needs to be made widely accessible to educators, theater practitioners, and students. The works range from commercial successes to rare and deeply personal plays that need to be rediscovered and reexamined.

In other words, this is a list of plays that educators, theater practitioners, and students should have access to. I believe these 101 works mark only the beginning of a comprehensive survey of the great dramas that resonate and connect with Latina/o theater makers and those who appreciate their impact and influence. Most plays listed here are published; however, some like Tatiana Suárez-Pico’s Flesh and Blood, Law Chávez’s Señora de la Pinta, and Christina Hjelm’s Casualties of Dreams and Sand still await publication and productions. The works are made by, for and with Latina/os, but not always all three at the same time. Although the list is confined to only one drama by each of the 101 playwrights, many on the list have also written a number of other powerful plays on the Latino experience. 

There are plays which were misunderstood by critics, such as Raul Castíllo’s Knives and Other Sharp Objects, a gem of a play, and Alejandro Morales’ marea, a poetic dream play that are yearning for rediscovery. There are plays that have pushed the boundaries of what constitutes a Latina/o aesthetic, like Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue and Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus El Rey. And there are works that celebrate the complexities and contradictions of who we are as a multidimensional group living in the U.S. today, including but not limited to Lemon Andersen’s County of Kings, Nilaja Sun’s No Child…, and Lackawanna Blues by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

We recognize that: 1. There is a great need for a catalog or list of Latina/o works for the general public, and 2. we need to determine which plays we presently consider to be influential works to us as theater makers.

A few important things to consider:

Just as one play does not define a playwright, nor represent an entire culture, neither does this list intend to define or represent “Latina/o theater.” It is also not a ‘greatest hits’ type of list; rather, these are works that resonate and therefore serve as an invitation for further exploration. Take every opportunity to read a work from the list and see what inspires you to go in search of additional works by the same author or theme. There are connections amongst these plays that I had no idea existed until I started to put it all together. I was struck by how “honor” (a theme which holds great weight from the plays of Golden Age Spain) connects the plight of Mexican day laborers in Michael John Garcés’ Los Illegals, to the steadfast Cuban protagonist of Eduardo Machado’s The Cook, to Papo & Lulu’s journeys towards redemption in El Grito del Bronx by Migdalia Cruz.

Secondly, Latinidad is difficult to define. This list resists ranking or canonization of the works. Rather, the plays are listed in alphabetical order by title. Despite the fact that many of us are deeply influenced by work by such authors as Lorca, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, among others, their works are not included on this list. The intent was to include plays that have had significant impact on U.S. artists and audiences alike, but do not receive the level of attention or circulation given to European or Northern Hemispheric works.

Finally, it bears repeating there is no litmus test for what Latinidad is. We are not a singular identity nor static in nature. I expect that over time—as was expressed at the Latina/o Theatre Commons National Gathering—the term “Latinidad” may evolve into another thing altogether. In 2046, when Latina/os become the majority in the U.S. no one knows whether or not we’ll still be constrained by geopolitical boundaries, language and skin color. But today, in examining these works, my hope is that we will begin to understand the breadth of our universal humanity.

As affirmed at the Convening, we are The New Americans.

So without further ado, here is the list. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts or favorites in the comments below. And I apologize for any omissions in advance.

Adelante!

  1. 7, Eight, 9 by Joe Luis Cedillo
  2. American Night: The Ballad of Juan José by Richard Montoya
  3. Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
  4. Ashes of Light by Marco Antonio Rodríguez
  5. Aurora by Leonard Madrid
  6. Based On A Totally True Story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacása
  7. Basilica by Mando Alvarado
  8. BIG BRO / lil bro by Jonathan Ceniceroz
  9. Blade to the Heat by Oliver Mayer
  10. Boxcar by Silvia Gonzalez S.
  11. blu by Virginia Grise
  12. Broadsword by Marco Ramirez
  13. Bruising for Besos by Adelina Anthony
  14. Café Vida by Lisa Loomer
  15. Cascarones by Irma Mayorga
  16. Casualties of Dreams and Sand by Christina Hjelm
  17. Chimichangas and Zoloft by Fernanda Coppel
  18. Claudia Meets Fulano Colorado by Joann Farías
  19. The Conduct of Life by María Irene Fornes
  20. The Cook by Eduardo Machado
  21. County of Kings by Lemon Andersen
  22. Dark Play, or Stories for Boys by Carlos Muríllo
  23. Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary by Marissa Chibas
  24. Earthquake Chica by Anne García-Romero
  25. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes
  26. Empanada for a Dream by Juan Villa
  27. Entries by Bernardo Solano
  28. The Smartest Girl in the World by Miriam Gonzalez
  29. Exit, Cuckoo (nanny in motherland) by Lisa Ramírez
  30. Fish Men by Cándido Tirado
  31. Flesh and Blood by Tatiana Suárez-Pico
  32. Floridita, My Love by Javierantonio González
  33. Fukú Americanus (adapted from Junot Díaz's 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao') by Sean San José & Campo Santo
  34. Ghost Light by Desi Moreno-Penson
  35. Greetings From A Queer Señorita by Monica Palácios
  36. El Grito del Bronx by Migdalia Cruz
  37. Guapa by Caridad Svich
  38. Heart Shaped Nebula by Marisela Treviño Orta
  39. Las Hermanas Padilla by Tony Meneses
  40. Highway 47 by KJ Sanchez
  41. The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea by Cherríe Moraga
  42. Los Illegals by Michael John Garcés
  43. Illuminating Veronica by Rogelio Martínez
  44. I Was The Voice of Democracy by Brian Herrera
  45. The Inquisitor by Magdalena Gómez
  46. Johnny Tenorio by Carlos Morton
  47. Julia by Carmen Rivera
  48. Kissing Che by Augusto Federíco Amador
  49. Kita y Fernanda by Tanya Saracho
  50. Knives and Other Sharp Objects by Raul Castíllo
  51. Lackawanna Blues by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
  52. The Lady from Havana by Luís Santeiro
  53. Landlocked by Cusi Cram
  54. Latins Anonymous by Latins Anonymous (Luisa Leschin, Armando Molina, Rick Najera, Diane Rodriguez)
  55. Learn to be Latina by Enríque Urueta
  56. Light of Night by Cecilia Copeland
  57. La Llorona, A Love Story by Kathleen Anderson Culebro
  58. Lydia by Octavio Solís
  59. maelstrom by Christopher Oscar Peña
  60. Mambo Mouth by John Leguizamo
  61. marea by Alejandro Morales
  62. Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías
  63. Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes
  64. My Visits With MGM (My Grandmother Marta) by Edít Villarreal
  65. No Child… by Nilaja Sun
  66. Oedipus El Rey by Luís Alfaro
  67. Pinkolandia by Andrea Thome
  68. Placas by Paul S. Flores
  69. Quality by Elaine Avila
  70. Radio Mambo by Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Sigüenza)
  71. Real Women Have Curves by Josefína López
  72. The Re-discovery of America by the Warrior for Gringostroika by Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Coco Fusco
  73. References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot by José Rivera
  74. The Reincarnation of Jaime Brown by Lynne Alvarez
  75. Roosters by Milcha Sánchez-Scott
  76. The Ruin by Georgina Escobar
  77. La Ruta by Ed Cardona, Jr.
  78. Señora de la Pinta by Law Chávez
  79. September Shoes by José Cruz González
  80. Seven Spots on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman
  81. Short Eyes by Miguel Piñero
  82. Single Wet Female by Marga Gómez and Carmelita Tropicana (a.k.a. Alína Troyano)
  83. Sissy by Ricardo Brácho
  84. Skin (an adaptation of Buchner’s WOYZECK) by Naomi Iizuka
  85. so go the ghosts of méxico, part one by Matthew Paul Olmos
  86. Solitude by Evelína Fernandez
  87. Somewhere by Matthew López
  88. Sonia Flew by Melinda López
  89. Swipe, Tap and Touch by Maria Alexandria Beech
  90. Taking Flight by Adriana Seván
  91. Tight Embrace by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas
  92. Trafficking in Broken Hearts by Edwin Sánchez
  93. Under a Western Sky by Amparo Garcia-Crow
  94. underneathmybed by Florencia Lozano
  95. La Vida Loca by Carlos Manuel
  96. Vieques by Jorge Gonzalez
  97. Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Díaz
  98. Wetback by Elaine Romero
  99. When El Cucuí Walks by Roy Conboy
  100. Wild in Wichita by Lina Gallegos
  101. Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez

 

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There's a big time omission: LA GRINGA by Carmen Rivera, which is one of the most successful plays in the history of Latino Theater. 21 years in Repertorio Español and with many productions nationally. It just had an extended sold out run in Chicago's Urban Theater Company.

I have looked for many of these but don't where to find them. Would someone be able to help with a link or something on how to get a hold of these plays? Thank you!

Thank you so much for posting this list. However, I'm trying really hard to find some of these I can't seem to find them. Do you know where I might be able to find these other than on Amazon and Barnes and Noble?

I would include "I don't have to show you no Stinking Badges". And why is there no play about Carlos Santana?

Thanks Tlaloc. This is an awesome idea to put our plays in a list like this. Just want to add TONY GARCIA, "El Sol Que Tu Eres". He has written and produced over 30 of his plays and he won a USA Artists award.

Bravo Tlaloc!!! Next up: The ability to click on any of the 101 plays on the list and have them link up to an instant reading experience. Right? You go, guy!

awesome list. i'll use it over and over again when i need to recommend people/writers/students to a group of excellent American plays

Love who you included. So honored to be included. I'd offer Bótainica by Dolores Prida. She has a great anthology called Beautiful Senoritas and Other Plays (Arte Publico Press), Cuba and His Teddy Bear (Reinaldo Povod), the plays of Tony Garcia (Su Teatro, Denver), Rupert Reyes' Petra Series (Petra's Pecado, Austin, TX been on the road for years starring Ruby Nelda Perez), San Antonio's Alicia Mena's Las Nuevas Tamaleras, the plays of Silviana Wood (Tucson), Fantasmaville (Raul Garza, Austin), Ghetto Babylon (Michael Mejias), into the Pines (Beto O'Byrne). Be on the look out for the plays of Vanessa Garcia (Miami), Ricky Martinez (Miami), and Milta Ortiz (AZ, Calif.). And thanks, Armando, for adding Evangeline Ordaz. May we have 101 lists every couple weeks. Soar, Latino playwrights, soar. May all your plays be produced many times.

Thank you Tlaloc. Of course some will agree with your choices some not, with your methodology-some not, some names are perhaps missing BUT this is important and historical. And we all should thank you and add these names and the missing ones to our own lists.

Thank you, Tlaloc, for compiling this great list. I'd add "Visitors' Guide to Arivaca" by Evangeline Ordaz. It has received either full or workshop productions at 4 different theaters in the Southwest including Teatro Vision and Denver Center, and was the cover feature of American Theater Magazine in 2006.

This is a great list and much needed! I would like to offer No Where on the Border by Carlos Lacámara which won Nuestras Voces some years ago and La gringa also by Carmen Rivera (#47) which has been running at Repertorio Español since 1996! Looking forward to reading some of the plays I am not familiar with and very glad to see some of my favorites make it on the list! Thank you Tlaloc! -Allison

great list, but we are missing a good part of Latina/os' contribution to theater, the one that has been written in Spanish by the likes of Dolores Prida, Julio Matas, Matias Montes Huidobro, Leopoldo Hernandez, Cristina Rebull, Diana Cherry-Ramirez, Mario Diamant, Grupo Pregones' plays, to name a few...

Thanks so much, Tlaloc! I haven't read near enough of these and I currently teach only a couple. Looks like I have my winter reading cut out for me. Thanks for this excellent resource.

Tlaloc, you are a prince! Thank you so much. And I am always amazed, humbled and honored when I read the names on this list. I know many of these folks and they are incredible writers whose plays deserve to be adored.

Gracias, Tlaloc. I'm very honored to be included. And I know all these people have more. Seems like there must be a 21st Century distribution method to make these works available to all. I know there's plenty on this list I'd like to read. Viva!

Fantastic work, Tlaloc! There are other plays and playwrights, especially from the early years (1960s-80s) and I am certain people will continue to build on this very impressive start.

a phenomenal list! a fantastic sub/supplemental list would be a directory of scenes and monologues from these plays suitable for use in acting classes at the high school and college level

What a phenomenal list! It's inspiring to see the breadth of Latina/o works representing the New Americans and thanks Theater Commons for starting the conversation. Looks like I have a lot of reading to catch up on!