Melinda Lopez at the Huntington Theatre
Melinda Lopez has a secret evil plan: to create complex Latina women and put them center stage. She was the inaugural playwright-in-residence at the Huntington Theatre from 2013-2019 as part of the Mellon Foundations National Playwright Residency Program. Her adaptation of Yerma opened at the Huntington Theatre Company in June 2019. She is currently developing a long-form series for Audible, Escoria, an immigration drama set in 2018 and 1980 during the Mariel Boatlift. She is the recipient of the 2019 Mass Cultural Council Award in Dramatic Writing and the 2019 Elliot Norton Award for sustained excellence.
Her plays include: Mala (ArtsEmerson, The Guthrie Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Elliot Norton Award [Best New Play], Arts Impulse Award [Best Solo Performance], which is also available to download on Audible in both Spanish and English), Back the Night (Boston Playwrights Theatre), Becoming Cuba (Huntington Theatre, North Coast Rep), Sonia Flew (Elliot Norton Award, Huntington Theatre, Steppenwolf, Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, and many others), Caroline in Jersey (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Orchids to Octopi (Central Square Theatre, commissioned by the National Institutes of Health), Gary (Steppenwolf First Look Repertory, Boston Playwrights Theatre), and many others.
Her plays have been translated into Spanish (Ser Cuba and Sonia se fue) and were presented at the 2018 Camaguey Theatre Festival in Cuba.
Melinda is also an actress and has appeared in Our Town, A Month in the Country, Rose Tattoo, Persephone, (Huntington Theatre Company), Grand Concourse, Appropriate, Motherfucker with the Hat, Theatre District (SpeakEasy Stage), Girls War, Oil Thief (Boston Playwrights Theatre), as well as roles with Shakespeare & Co, Portland Stage, The Guthrie Theatre, and others. She is also featured (and has become a meme) in the film Fever Pitch.
She is active providing humanitarian aid for the people of Cuba and was mentioned by President Obama in his speech to the Cuban and American people in 2016. Mayor Marty Walsh declared 29 October 2016 “Melinda Lopez Day" in the city of Boston. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, daughter, giant yellow dog, and other critters and occasionally sleeps on the ground in the American Southwest. She has run two marathons and plays a little ukulele.
Melinda teaches playwriting at Boston University and Wellesley College. She was the first recipient of the Charlotte Woolard Award, given by the Kennedy Center to a “promising new voice in American Theatre.” She has served as a panel member for the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Cambridge Arts Panel and has enjoyed residencies with the Huntington Playwriting Fellows, Sundance, the Lark, the New York Theatre Workshop, and Harvard University.
The Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets. Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington has received over 150 Elliot Norton and Independent Reviewers of New England Awards, as well as the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. In the past thirty-six years, the Huntington has played to an audience of 3.5 million, presented over 200 plays (eighteen of which went on to Broadway or Off Broadway), and served over 500,000 students, community members, and other cultural organizations.
Melinda has been working with the Huntington Theatre for almost twenty years, both as an actress and playwright. Pre-residency work includes readings of Aleandros and Sonia Flew, and the 2004 world premiere of Sonia Flew. Melinda performed in A Month in the Country, Rose Tattoo, Persephone, and Our Town. Melinda’s playwriting residency with the Huntington (2013-2019) began with the production of Becoming Cuba. The Huntington also produced Mala and Yerma over the course of the Mellon residency. Most recently, Melinda was awarded the 2019 Elliot Norton Award for sustained Excellence in the theatre.
Over the six years of the Playwriting Residency, Melinda developed Becoming Cuba, Back the Night, Mala, Yerma, and Mariel (working title), a long form dramatic piece for Audible. Mala has won multiple awards including the Elliott Norton Award for Best New Play (2017). Mala (ArtsEmerson, Guthrie Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company) is available from Dramatists Play Service and an audio version from Audible, performed by Melinda herself. A Spanish language version will also be dropping later this year and WGBH is preparing a version for television. Back the Night has had multiple productions at colleges across the country. Yerma is in consideration at a number of theatres for upcoming seasons. Melinda also traveled to Cuba several times and has formed a relationship with Argos Teatro. Her translated work, Sonia se fue, was presented at the 2018 Camaguey Theatre Festival and is available, along with Ser Cuba, in publication through Tablas Alarcos. Melinda is currently working with Yunior Garcia translating his new play, Jacuzzi.
Melinda is grateful for the opportunity to experiment with new forms throughout the residency, working in solo performance, translation/adaptation, and audio formats. Her work within the institution at the Huntington has included season planning, script reading, writing, contributing to marketing and development initiatives, and facilitating larger conversations around institutional responsibility to employees and community. Melinda created a Values Statement for internal use at the Huntington, now shared with all employees and visiting artists, which lays out and articulates "our hopes and dreams about how we interact and treat each other—and how we don’t." In addition, Melinda helped create Color Commentary, a safe space for employees of color that meets monthly to discuss personal, local, and national issues.
Melinda also worked regularly as part of readings and development for other playwrights new work, assisted in bringing Modern Love Live to the Huntington, and has given many talks to colleges, organizations, and donors about the importance and process of new play development, sharing knowledge and experience from the field, and serving as an ambassador for the theatre at large. Melinda remains an ad-hoc member of the staff (meaning "stuff is getting finalized’), and will appear in Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead, directed by Peter DuBois, in October 2019.