Interests:Poetry, theatre, film, yoga Expertise: Playwriting American Triage : Marin Theatre Company 2006 commission; 2008 MTC workshop production; 2011 East L.A. Rep staged reading.
Braided Sorrow : 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival; 2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama; September 2008, world premiere, El Centro Su Teatro, Denver, CO; 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award for Drama.
Heart Shaped Nebula: 2011 Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwrights Showcase staged reading; 2012 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist.
Woman on Fire 2007 full-length commission by the Latino Playwrights Initiative; 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival BASH; 2008 Playwrights Foundation’s Rough reading series; 2012 Teatro Luna’s Lunadas reading series.
A Game of Chess, A Potential Metaphor and Getting To Know My Character Better
The game of chess reminds me a lot of my childhood. My father taught me how to play and I used to play him. My proudest chess moment: I was pursuing my father around the board, he had just his kind and I had a king and one other piece. We ended up calling it a draw.
A few years back I took down the chessboard. I hadn't played in many a year. My father finished me off in three moves. Three. He leaned back, crossed his arms and smiled.
I've always wanted to return to playing chess. I still want to.
Maybe that's why I ended up writing Alcira scene fragments this morning that included characters preparing for a chess game.
FIDELIA: I used to play when i was younger. My father taught me. I liked the way I could almost feel my thoughts turning over on one another. Liked how I could look at the board and imagine a move, then the possible counter moves, then my next move. I twas like glimpsing a potential future.
I can't do it anymore. Haven't played in years.
SOTERO: That doesn't matter. The game is always there.
FIDELIA: Yeah, but I'm sure it'd take me twenty minutes to make a move.
SOTERO: I don't mind.
* * *
SOTERO: You remember how they move?
FIDELIA: Of course.
SOTERO: Just checking.
FIDELIA picks up the queen.
FIDELIA: I always loved that the most powerful piece on the board was the queen. She can do anything.
SOTERO: Yeah, but that can make her vulnerable. She can forget it's not about the power to move any which way she pleases. There's always risk. Especially if you aren't looking for it.
It was while writing that second fragment that I began to think that a chess game was an interesting metaphor for Fidelia's final confrontation with Alcira. That there was something about the game of chess that could teach Fidelia what she'll need to defeat Alcira.
So I'm gonna keep exploring this. We'll see if it sticks.
I spent Sunday morning sitting at my desk working on the prologue for Alcira. I was reminded what a great feeling it is to write. Writing something new as opposed to rewrites. And I'm entering full writing mode. I'm carrying around a small journal for writing notes and that's exactly what I'm doing. Mainly it's snippets of dialog, though I have a partial monologue.
And yes, it's been a while since I've been in pure writing mode, as opposed to rewrite mode. Both are great modes to be in, but there's something unknown and exciting about discovering the narrative for the first time, about creating/writing something new--that intuitive sense that you're definitely keeping what you just wrote. I'm especially happy with how the prologue ends.
ALCIRA crushes the red plum in her hand. A red stain blossoms on the front of CARMELITA'S skirt.
Carmelita then doubles over in excruciating pain (I can't recall the exact wording) and ends up in the fetal position.
Alcira is the third play in my grimm Latino fairy tale cycle. I've been thinking about it for some time, trying to figure out the narrative--not an outline, but rather major plot points that drive the narrative.
Good news! In the past two days I've had some major breakthroughs for the play. They are:
I realized that Fidelia, the protagonist, has powers. That instead of the story being about her rescuing Sotero from Alcira, that Sotero in danger is only part of it. Alcira wants Fidelia's powers because they would prolong her life an entire millennium.
Alcira was a servant of Malinalxochitl, sister of the the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird of the South). That she has to pay tribute to Huitzilopochtli by turning her victims into hummingbirds (the final animal stage before she turns them to stone).
That Carmelita, Fidelia's aunt, is the one who gave Fidelia her powers. That the powers pass along the female line in their family, but not always mother to daughter as in this case. Carmelita visited her family in Texas for Fidelia's baptism and in a moment of tenderness kissed her sobrina (and goddaughter). That's when a charm (that's what you call a group of them, that's perfect!) of hummingbirds flooded into the room signifying the passing of powers. The hummingbird is their family totem, you see.
There needs to be an origin story for Fidelia's family, how they were originally given powers by Huitzilopochtli.
I realize these notes might not make a lot of sense out of context. But I'm very excited and I'm writing.