101 Plays by The New Americans, or on Latinidad
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.
- 7, Eight, 9 by Joe Luis Cedillo
- American Night: The Ballad of Juan José by Richard Montoya
- Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
- Ashes of Light by Marco Antonio Rodríguez
- Aurora by Leonard Madrid
- Based On A Totally True Story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacása
- Basilica by Mando Alvarado
- BIG BRO / lil bro by Jonathan Ceniceroz
- Blade to the Heat by Oliver Mayer
- Boxcar by Silvia Gonzalez S.
- blu by Virginia Grise
- Broadsword by Marco Ramirez
- Bruising for Besos by Adelina Anthony
- Café Vida by Lisa Loomer
- Cascarones by Irma Mayorga
- Casualties of Dreams and Sand by Christina Hjelm
- Chimichangas and Zoloft by Fernanda Coppel
- Claudia Meets Fulano Colorado by Joann Farías
- The Conduct of Life by María Irene Fornes
- The Cook by Eduardo Machado
- County of Kings by Lemon Andersen
- Dark Play, or Stories for Boys by Carlos Muríllo
- Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary by Marissa Chibas
- Earthquake Chica by Anne García-Romero
- Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes
- Empanada for a Dream by Juan Villa
- Entries by Bernardo Solano
- The Smartest Girl in the World by Miriam Gonzalez
- Exit, Cuckoo (nanny in motherland) by Lisa Ramírez
- Fish Men by Cándido Tirado
- Flesh and Blood by Tatiana Suárez-Pico
- Floridita, My Love by Javierantonio González
- Fukú Americanus (adapted from Junot Díaz's 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao') by Sean San José & Campo Santo
- Ghost Light by Desi Moreno-Penson
- Greetings From A Queer Señorita by Monica Palácios
- El Grito del Bronx by Migdalia Cruz
- Guapa by Caridad Svich
- Heart Shaped Nebula by Marisela Treviño Orta
- Las Hermanas Padilla by Tony Meneses
- Highway 47 by KJ Sanchez
- The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea by Cherríe Moraga
- Los Illegals by Michael John Garcés
- Illuminating Veronica by Rogelio Martínez
- I Was The Voice of Democracy by Brian Herrera
- The Inquisitor by Magdalena Gómez
- Johnny Tenorio by Carlos Morton
- Julia by Carmen Rivera
- Kissing Che by Augusto Federíco Amador
- Kita y Fernanda by Tanya Saracho
- Knives and Other Sharp Objects by Raul Castíllo
- Lackawanna Blues by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
- The Lady from Havana by Luís Santeiro
- Landlocked by Cusi Cram
- Latins Anonymous by Latins Anonymous (Luisa Leschin, Armando Molina, Rick Najera, Diane Rodriguez)
- Learn to be Latina by Enríque Urueta
- Light of Night by Cecilia Copeland
- La Llorona, A Love Story by Kathleen Anderson Culebro
- Lydia by Octavio Solís
- maelstrom by Christopher Oscar Peña
- Mambo Mouth by John Leguizamo
- marea by Alejandro Morales
- Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías
- Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes
- My Visits With MGM (My Grandmother Marta) by Edít Villarreal
- No Child… by Nilaja Sun
- Oedipus El Rey by Luís Alfaro
- Pinkolandia by Andrea Thome
- Placas by Paul S. Flores
- Quality by Elaine Avila
- Radio Mambo by Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Sigüenza)
- Real Women Have Curves by Josefína López
- The Re-discovery of America by the Warrior for Gringostroika by Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Coco Fusco
- References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot by José Rivera
- The Reincarnation of Jaime Brown by Lynne Alvarez
- Roosters by Milcha Sánchez-Scott
- The Ruin by Georgina Escobar
- La Ruta by Ed Cardona, Jr.
- Señora de la Pinta by Law Chávez
- September Shoes by José Cruz González
- Seven Spots on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman
- Short Eyes by Miguel Piñero
- Single Wet Female by Marga Gómez and Carmelita Tropicana (a.k.a. Alína Troyano)
- Sissy by Ricardo Brácho
- Skin (an adaptation of Buchner’s WOYZECK) by Naomi Iizuka
- so go the ghosts of méxico, part one by Matthew Paul Olmos
- Solitude by Evelína Fernandez
- Somewhere by Matthew López
- Sonia Flew by Melinda López
- Swipe, Tap and Touch by Maria Alexandria Beech
- Taking Flight by Adriana Seván
- Tight Embrace by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas
- Trafficking in Broken Hearts by Edwin Sánchez
- Under a Western Sky by Amparo Garcia-Crow
- underneathmybed by Florencia Lozano
- La Vida Loca by Carlos Manuel
- Vieques by Jorge Gonzalez
- Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Díaz
- Wetback by Elaine Romero
- When El Cucuí Walks by Roy Conboy
- Wild in Wichita by Lina Gallegos
- Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez
The article is just the start of the conversation—we want to know what you think about this subject, too! HowlRound is a space for knowledge-sharing, and we welcome spirited, thoughtful, and on-topic dialogue. Find our full comments policy here
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.
If we include musicals or works with music, In the Heights, Miranda/Hudes, right?
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!
If the aren't published, you may have to contact the playwrights directly.
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?
Thank you!!! This list is so important. Now to start reading!
Tanya Saracho's "El Nogalar"...
I would include "I don't have to show you no Stinking Badges". And why is there no play about Carlos Santana?
I am honored to be included. Thank you!
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.
Honored and excited about what's to come.
Thank you, Tlaloc.
Correction on #29 Lisa Ramirez' play is EXIT CUCKOO (nanny in motherland) not wonderland - (great article and wonderful list by the way- thx for writing it!) http://www.lulu.com/shop/li...
Thanks for reporting that. We've made the correction!
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!
Thank you for this thoughtful list, Tlaloc!
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
megusta! Thank you for highlighting these writers and their plays.
Excellent list of playwrights but ... where is Dolores Prida?
This is a super-useful resource! Thank you so much for compiling it.
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...
Absolutely. Dolores Prida should be on any list. Many ensemble works (like LA VICTIMA by Teatro de la Esperanza) and about 50 other plays/writers couldn't fit the list due to space limitations. Perhaps we can create the next 101 play list? ;-)
i am very very grateful to have this list, for myself and for students. Thank you.
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!