Migdalia Cruz: Writing is life

One of the most exciting things for me this fall is the impressive line-up of talented Latinas–from playwrights to actors–that Chicago theaters are boasting. I’m sure you’ve heard about Mango Street hitting the stage, the Brown Girl Chronicles just finished a second run, our September feature Marilyn Camacho is debuting as a director, and finally, Migdalia Cruz, whose play El Grito del Bronx ran this summer at the Goodman will be back in town teaching a master playwriting class over at Chicago Dramatist on October 24th. Its poised to be a one-of-a-kind experience, Migdalia is combining movement and yoga along with writing exercises into her workshop.

In case you’ve wondered about penning your own play, I thought this a most appropriate time to reach into my vault and share an interview that I did with Migdalia earlier this summer.

Diana: I read somewhere that you were originally a math major. How did you go from math major to playwright?

Migdalia:I was also a History minor, and took a class about Beckett. I thought it was about the English historical figure “Thomas A Becket, but instead it was about Samuel Beckett. When I saw how beautifully and poetically Beckett rendered the most horrible of human conditions, I thought becoming a playwright could be an incredible gift. So I dropped the Calculus. When I get stuck on my plays, I sometimes add big numbers. I figure anything on paper is good. It also relaxes me. Strange, huh? Math stresses a lot of people, but not me. But once I faced the fact that writing was what would truly make me happy, I remembered that I had written my first play when I was six years old—a puppet play about Civil Rights. So I suppose I was really just acknowledging what I always knew in my heart. Math was fun, but writing was life.

Diana: What advice do you give to emerging women playwrights?

Migdalia: Respect your history, listen to your ancestors, tell the truth, and write your own story—or someone else will write it and get it all wrong.

Diana: Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the other plays you might be working on?

Migdalia: Hmmm…I’m not sure how much I should tell you— I have been working for a while on an adaptation of Petronius’ Satyricon, which will include both reggaeton & the music of Nino Rota. And I have recently started thinking about a play about real Puerto Rican Pirates to whom I am related. Enough said.

Finding a Method to Your Own Madness.’ For more details contact: Megan from Chicago Dramatist at msmith@chicagodramatists.org, or call at 312-206-8959.

Interview by Diana Pando

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