Category Archives: Theater

In the News: A Pulitzer for Hudes and a short story from Díaz

Woo hoo! Quiara Alegría Hudes, right, won the Pultizer Prize in Drama today, becoming only the second Latino to win in that category. She won for her play Water by the Spoonful.

Junot Díaz alert:

• Speaking of the Pulitzers, past winner Junot Díaz has a short story, “Miss Lora,” in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

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Latinos and the Pulitzer Prize

Update: Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play, Water by the Spoonful. I also included information on Sonia Nazario, which I forgot about when I first wrote this post until I saw her book in my co-worker’s office and thought, “I can’t believe I forgot Enrique’s Journey!”

The Pulitzer Prizes, which award the best in journalism and literary arts, will be announced on Monday. While the Nobel Prize in Literature is an international award that honors a lifetime achievement of work, the Pulitzers are an American award that recognizes the previous year’s work in a variety of categories. Here’s a look at some of the past Latino winners:

Fiction:

• Only two Hispanics have won this prize: Oscar Hijuelos for 1990’s The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Junot Díaz, right, for 2008’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Hopefully, the committee will consider Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name, Justin Torres’s We the Animals and Hector Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries this year.

Drama:

• Nilo Cruz, left, is the lone Latino playwright to win this honor, for 2003’s Anna in the Tropics. Some writers have come close in recent years – Quiara Alegría Hudes was a finalist for 2007’s Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue in 2007 and, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2009’s In the Heights, as was Kristoffer Diaz for 2010’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.

Poetry:

• William Carlos Williams, right, whose mother was Puerto Rican, appears to be the lone poet with Latino roots to win in the category.

Sadly, no Latinos appear to have won in the autobiography, general non-fiction or history categories. Luis Alberto Urrea came close in 2005, when he was a finalist for general non-fiction category for The Devil’s Highway.

Journalism:

Latinos have won in various categories throughout the years – as part of teams covering the Los Angeles riots for The Los Angeles Times in 1992 and the Elian Gonzalez case for The Miami Herald in 2001. Here’s a look at some interesting winners of the past:

Ruben Vives, left, who came to the United States from Guatemala as an undocumented immigrant and worked his way to become a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, won the award last year for Public Service at age 32.

Liz Balmaseda of The Miami Herald was the first (and still only) Latino to win in the Commentary category in 1993.

SoniaNazarioSonia Nazario, who was raised in the United States and Argentina, wrote a series of articles for The Los Angeles Times about one boy’s travels from Honduras to the United States that won the 2003 Feature Writing prize and became the book Enrique’s Journey.

• Photographer José Galvez, right, was part of the first team of Latinos to win a Pulitzer when  The Los Angeles Times took the 1984 Public Service Prize for its series on Latino life in Southern California. His work can also be seen in Urrea’s book of poems Vatos and other books.

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In the news: April showers new books, awards and other news

New releases:

• Several Latino-oriented books are coming out in the next few weeks. Gustavo Arellano explores Americans’ fascination with Mexican food in Taco USA, which will be available this Tuesday. Read an excerpt here.

• Four interweaving stories, from South America to Boston, form the plot of Differential Equations by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica, out April 16.

Dagoberto Gilb’s “Uncle Rock” will be featured in the The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 anthology, which will be published April 17.

Julia Alvarez’s new book, A Wedding in Haiti, out April 24, describes her experiences in that country before and after the 2010 earthquake. Also coming out that week is Roberto Bolaño’s The Secret of Evil, a collection of short stories, and Alisa Valdes’ The Temptation, the first in a supernatural trilogy.

Awards:

• Several Latinos were named as finalists in ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year contest, honoring books from independent publishers. Lyn DiIorio’s Outside the Bones made the Fiction-Literary list. Sergio Troncoso’s (left) Crossing Borders earned a spot in the Essays category and From This Wicked Patch of Dust made the Fiction-Multicultural list, as did Richard Yañez’s Cross Over Water and Rudolfo Anaya’s Randy Lopez Goes Home.

Troncoso’s From This Wicked Patch of Dust was also nominated in the Reading the West Book Awards in the Adult Fiction category. Emerita Romero-Anderson was nominated in the children’s category for Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot.

Book festivals:

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, running April 20-21, will feature a plethora of authors, including Gustavo Arellano, Kami Garcia (left), José-Luis Orozco, Héctor Tobar and Luis Alberto Urrea. Rudolfo Anaya will be honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Writing workshops:

April 15 is the deadline to sign up for the National Latino Writers Conference May 16-19 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Teachers include Jimmy Santiago Baca, Cristina García and Rigoberto González (right).

Body art by Mia Roman. Photographed by Johnny Ramos.

Other bits:

The New York Daily News profiled Aurora Anaya-Cerda’s (right) building of the Latino-oriented La Casa Azul bookstore in East Harlem, slated for a spring opening. Check out her progress on her Facebook page.

The Daily News also profiled poet Nuyorican poet Bonafide Rojas.

The Daily Show covered the Arizona ban on Latino-themed books and ethnic studies as only The Daily Show could.

Publishers Weekly had a nice write-up about Pat Mora’s Día: El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book.

Sergio Troncoso previews his panel, “Latino Literature, Then and Now,” to the Texas Library Association’s annual conference April 17-19 in Houston.

The Austin American-Statesman featured the Austin Latino New Play Festival.

 

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At the theater: “Electricidad” and “In the Heights”

“At the Theater” is a feature in which I check out plays by Latino writers. The article is intended to be a look at the author’s work and not a review of the theatrical production – so no comments about acting, lighting or staging. I saw the Fort Worth-based Artes de la Rosa’s production of the play Electricidad and a national tour production of In the Heights.

Life in the barrio has been a constant theme in Latino literature – and it’s the setting of two powerful, and very different, plays that have received nationwide attention and are now showing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad, the barrio is at its rawest, filled with gangsters and cholos who can’t escape their ‘hood. Electricidad is a young woman who sits outside her home, protecting the body of her murdered father. Based on the Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Electra, a trio of neighborhood women serve as the Greek chorus while Electricidad deals with her mother, sister and others. Depending on your point of view, the play shows barrio life at its most realistic or it perpetuates the worst stereotypes of Latinos.

By contrast, In the Heights is so joyful, one could think it takes place on another planet. The play actually takes place near a bodega in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The story by Quiara Alegría Hudes (she also wrote 26 Miles) depicts the lives of its residents, who break into upbeat songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. At the end of the show, you wished you lived in this neighborhood where everyone is your friend and every problem has a solution. The show deservedly won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

About the plays: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can see excellent productions of these plays until March 25. Electricidad is produced by the Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth. For tickets, click here. In the Heights, which is on a national tour until June, is playing at the Winspear Opera House, part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, in Dallas. For tickets, click here.

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At the theater: Quiara Alegria Hudes’s “26 Miles”

DeAnna Gonzales and Georgia Marshelle Phillips played Beatriz and Olivia in the 26 Miles production by Artes de la Rosa of Fort Worth. They were fantastic. (Photo courtesy Adam Adolfo.)

“At the Theater” is a new feature in which I will check out plays by Latino authors. The article is intended to be a look at the author’s work and not a review of the theatrical production – so no comments about acting, lighting or staging. I saw the Fort Worth-based Artes de la Rosa’s production of the play.

Quiara Alegria Hudes knows how to make a heart laugh – and then break it to pieces.

Audiences who see 26 Miles will experience those emotions when they see her play, which was first performed in 2008 and has been produced all around the country. In fact, two Dallas-Fort Worth theater companies put on the play within weeks of each other this month.

26 Miles tells the story of Beatriz, a temperamental Cuban secretary living in Philadelphia, and her troubled daughter, Olivia, 15, who has lived with her white father in suburbia since she was six years old. On the spur of the moment, Beatriz kidnaps Olivia and they take a road trip together.

Along the way, Beatriz teaches her daughter five words in Spanish a day. Olivia reveals her dreams and fears – mostly to the audience, sometimes to her mother – in her writings. They both must deal with the men they left behind – Beatriz’s husband, Manual; Olivia’s father, Aaron – through awkward phone calls and messages.

The road trip is a bit of a cliché. It’s been used in countless plays, movies and books as a metaphor for life. And the characters are stereotypes – Beatriz is the emotional Latina; Olivia is the typical moody teenager. But Hudes brings up touchy subjects – bullying, cultural identity and marital woes – in a natural, not contrived, manner and the dialogue sounds like everyday conversation. The well-paced play brings plenty of laughs, which makes the climax so much more dramatic.

There’s a reason why 26 Miles has been produced so frequently – it packs a great deal of emotion and life in 90 minutes.

More about Quiara Alegría Hudes:

Hudes, who is half-Puerto Rican, is also the playwright of the 2008 Tony-award winning musical In the Heights. She has also been a finalist for the Pultizer Prize Award twice, for Heights and Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.

26 Miles: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you still have Friday-Sunday to check the play Artes de la Rosa’s production at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth. Tickets cost $12 for students and seniors and $18 for adults, plus service charges.

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A Different Point of “View”

Actor Eddie Zertuche, who plays Eddie Carbone, reads the script. Photo courtesy Adam Adolfo.

Arthur Miller has been Hispanicized.

Artes de la Rosa, a performing arts organization in Fort Worth, Texas that promotes Latino culture, has reworked Miller’s A View from the Bridge by making the characters Puerto Rican and Dominican. They were Italian in the original 1955 play.

Artes de la Rosa has previously produced works from playwrights Federico Garcia Lorca, Nilo Cruz and Luis Alfaro. In December, it will present 26 Miles by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the Tony Award-winning playwright of 2008’s In the Heights.

A View from the Bridge is part of its five-year American Classics Initiative, artistic director Adam Adolfo said. The theater has already produced Cat On a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams and will tackle Eugene O’Neill later.

“The goal is to not only show the universality of the work but to explore their stories, when given Latin themes with which to experiment,” Adolfo said. “Additionally, it will provide Latino actors the opportunity to see themselves in iconic roles most usually cast with non-ethnic actors.”

Adolfo changed little in the play’s dialogue, which centers on Eddie Carbone, who helped raise – and has an intense attraction to – his niece, Catherine. But Catherine has fallen in love with a man who has arrived from the Dominican Republic illegally.

“This story explores the trials of immigration in a corrupt society and how a family becomes tangled in a web of misplaced honor and possessive desire,” Adolfo said. “These themes are central to the Hispanic culture and lend themselves to Miller’s vision.”

Adolfo hopes more Hispanics will get interested in going to the theater.

“Education and opportunity are the big driving forces behind getting more Hispanics in the audience,” he said. “There is an idea that theater is for the rich, elite, educated, or well-to-do. The truth is the theater in Elizabethan England was for the common man. In the fifth century, Grecians of every class participated and enjoyed the theatre. Theater is for everyone and we are making great strides at Arts de la Rosa at the Rose Marine Theater to make that distinction clear. Part of getting Latinos into the audience is pure programming. You have to let them see themselves on stage.”

For more information: If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can still catch A View From the Bridge until Sept. 11. The plan will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Rose Marine Theater, 1440 North Main Street, in Fort Worth. Tickets cost $12-18 and can be purchased here.

The website Theater Jones also has a terrific article about the play.

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