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Pulitizer winning Latina playwright at Cleveland Play House

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Seven actors stood in character, scripts resting on the music stool. Lights dimmed in the Allen Theatre Complex Labs, and basking in the spotlight the actors brought their characters to life. Tentatively named Daphane’s Dive, the play is still in its infancy. A storyline that playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, began just 5 days ago captured the audience at the Cleveland Playhouse Allen Theatre Labs.

Quiara Alegría Hudes

Daphane’s Dive is based in a historically Puerto Rican neighborhood in Philadelphia and revolves around a bar owner Daphane, and her relationship with pseudo friends and customers; her suburbanite sister Inez and her husband, a construction business owner turned politician.

Layered with humor, conflict, denied romance, and complexities of friendship Hude’s script incite laughter, sighs, and awe. The dialogue flows naturally, hinting subtlety to the cultural heritage and context of the characters and are loosely based on people she personally knows.

Hudes was in Cleveland Play House for a week-long residency as the first recipient of the Roe Green Award, which brings a leading US-American playwright to Cleveland to develop a new project culminating in a public reading as part of New Ground Theatre Festival at the Playhouse Theatre.

“She was unanimously chosen by a committee for the award,” said Laura Kepley, CPH Associate Artistic Director.

Hudes, 34, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Water By the Spoonful. The Pulitzer is given “for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life,” and includes a prize of $10,000.

“We are thrilled to be hosting this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright as part of the New Ground Theatre Festival,” said Michael Bloom, CPH Artistic Director. “Water by the Spoonful is a wonderful play that we hope to program in the future.”

Hudes was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for In the Heights. Hudes was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.

She taught a Master Class with CPH Playwrights’ Unit, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University theatre students; one of whom, Therese Anderberg, was cast in the play as Ruby.

Originally from Ann Arbor, Anderberg said the draw for Case Western Reserves’ Master of Fine Arts program is its close collaboration with CPH. “They encourage individuality and the program is focused on development.” Honored to be cast and work with seasoned actors from New York like David Zayas, who plays Angel Batista on the hit TV show Dexter she praised Hudes’s courage to share a raw script with actors and welcomed their input.

“That’s not a usual process,” said actress Angel Desai, who plays Kate, an Asian activist with a flair for flamboyancy and reveling outfits.  Desai said Hudes is an exceptional writer who crafts people very well. For the limited time she played Kate, she enjoyed the character’s liberal outlook and fierce independence; “I like to think I am just as liberal and vocal,” she said.

James Martínez played the struggling artist prone to capturing people’s lives in his art by scrounging through their trash. “We knew we were in capable hands,” he said about being cast and directed by Laura Lepley.

Bernie Bygott, a MFA student at Case, said he was impressed with the depth of characters and how he was drawn to each, “No one character dominated.” Bygott said the play had plenty of surprises.

Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/08/12 13:49:35 -0700.





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