Check out this essay by the Latinx Theatre Commons!
The Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) is thrilled to announce the publication of Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater with Northwestern University Press. As a project supported by the LTC, Encuentro is co-edited by LTC Steering Committee and Advisory Committee members Trevor Boffone, Teresa Marrero, and Chantal Rodriguez.
In line with scholarship, one of the core tenets of the LTC, this anthology is a collection of new Latinx plays and performances that emerged from the Los Angeles based Latino Theater Company’s landmark Encuentro 2014: A National Latina/o Theatre Festival, produced in association with the LTC. Encuentro 2014 was an historic event in which nineteen theatre companies were selected from a competitive, national application process to participate in a month-long residency to perform in the largest national Latinx theatre festival in over twenty-five years.
This anthology makes an important contribution as it chronicles not only the theatrical productions of Encuentro 2014, but also the impact of the festival as a whole on the field at large. Given that the plays and events within the festival included cultural ritual, political demonstration, and social practice, the anthology also provides a dynamic account of these intersections within US Latinx Theatre. Publication of these plays by Northwestern University Press serves not only as a testament to the diversity of Latinx artists, but also to the strength of the Latinx Theatre movement and its ever growing national network.
There is power in the communal experience of creating, witnessing, and participating in theatre festivals.
Encuentro means “an encounter,” and meetings form a core theme in these six groundbreaking plays, each prefaced by a critical introduction from a leading Latinx theatre scholar. The volume includes the following plays and critical introductions:
- Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers by José Torres-Tama; introduction by Dr. Tiffany Lopez
- Dreamscape by Rickerby Hinds; introduction by Olga Sanchez Saltveit
- La Esquinita, USA by Rubén Gonzalez; introduction by Dr. Jorge Huerta
- Patience, Fortitude, and Other Antidepressants by Mariana Carreño King; introduction by Dr. Beatriz Rizk
- Premeditation by Evelina Fernández; introduction by Dr. Grace Lopez
- Zoetrope Part 1 by Javier González; introduction by Dr. Irma Mayorga
Playwrights Ruben C. Gonzalez, José Torres-Tama, Rickerby Hinds, Mariana Carreño King, Javier Antonio González, and Evelina Fernández exhibit a wide range of aesthetic approaches, dramatic structures, and themes, ranging from marriage, gentrification, racial and gendered violence, migration, and the ever-present politics of the US–Mexico border. There is power in the communal experience of creating, witnessing, and participating in theatre festivals. This anthology is a testament to that power and seeks to document the historic festival as well as to make these works available to a wider audience.
In spite of an explosion of Latinx plays and productions since the advent of the new millennium, few of these works have been published in a cohesive, systematic manner. The gold standard of Latinx play anthologies are mostly dated: Necessary Theater: Six Plays About the Chicano Experience (1989); Shattering the Myth: Plays by Hispanic Women (1992); Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/o Theater and Performance (2000); Puro Teatro: a Latina Anthology (2000); and Fronteras Vivientes: Eight Latina/o Canadian Plays ( 2013). While these anthologies remain valuable works for educators, literary managers, and general reading audiences alike, they largely reinforce a dated view of Latinx identity. Encuentro is timely and reflects recent developments in the burgeoning Latinx theatre movement. More importantly, it updates the canon of Latinx theatre by reflecting not only the transnational character of Latinidad in the twenty-first century, but also by featuring the works of established artists alongside emerging ones while chronicling Encuentro 2014, a landmark event within the history of Latinx theatre in the twenty-first century.
Encuentro is timely and reflects recent developments in the burgeoning Latinx theatre movement.
One of the central goals of Encuentro ‘14—and the subsequent Encuentro de las Americas in 2017—was to revitalize a national network of Latinx theatres and artists to encourage the dissemination of their work nationwide. Exciting productions, tours, and professional partnerships have already sprung as a result. As these plays continue to be produced around the country and abroad, the demand to have these works in print will increase. Similarly, this anthology provides access to these works to scholars and artists who are currently and will continue to document this seminal movement within the field of American Theatre history.
It is the hope of the LTC and the co-editors of Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater that volumes such as this are not exceptions to the rule, but, rather, become the gold standard for how we continue documenting the current Latinx theatre movement. As the work of the LTC has demonstrated since its advent in Boston in 2013, this work is only just beginning.