Nuestras Voces: The Finalists Sound Off

With the MetLife Nuestras Voces National Playwriting Competition wrapping up its 14th session of free readings, take a chance to get to know some of the talented finalists.

Anne García Romero, K.J. Dwyer, Marcelo Rodríguez, Kuros Charney, Dania Ramos, Joselo Arroyo-García, and Stephanie Weber explained in heartfelt detail what being in the competition means for them. In addition to them, Matt Barbot, Carlos Murillo, and Francisco Lupini Basagoiti are also finalists in the competition. We asked them a question, based on their experience with the competition so far, what they thing the biggest impact that the competition will have – or has had – on their work as a playwright. Their answers are as diverse as they are.

The MetLife Nuestras Voces National Playwriting Competition began 14 years ago thanks to the generosity of MetLife Foundation. The goal of this annual initiative is to identify and develop the work of talented playwrights and highlight the Hispanic / Latino experience in the United States. Echoing the Company’s original mission, these plays represent a cross section of nationalities and explores subjects and themes important to the Hispanic community.

The winning play will be produced at Repertorio Español.
For more information on Nuestras Voces please visit www.repertorio.org/metlife

ANNE GARCÍA ROMERO
Writer of “Provenance” – From South Bend, IN

Anne Garcia-Romero

“The biggest impact of the competition on my work as a playwright is the remarkable opportunity to collaborate with such talented New York theater artists on the reading of my play and then to invite an audience into the wonderful Repertorio Español theater to share my work.”

K.J. DWYER
Writer of “Long Division” – From New York, NY

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“The reading was immensely valuable. Having an actual cast in front of an audience, even with just a few rehearsals, allowed me to hear the piece outside of my own imagination — warts and all. Without the reading, I’m not sure I would have been able to recognize both the strengths and deficiencies of the piece. It has sparked a whole new round of creativity and with every revision the piece continues to come into sharper relief.

Playwriting is a lonely process and after sending Long Division to various theatre companies and competitions, at times I felt I was just sending my words into the ether. Just being selected as a finalist in the Nuestras Voces Competition has given me the validation that, as a playwright, I’m on to something. People read the words I set to type and actually heard them, understood them and valued them enough to stage a reading. Receiving this kind of recognition from both the MetLife Foundation and Repertorio Español is like water to a seed. It nourishes both the play and the playwright.”

MARCELO RODRÍGUEZ
Writer of “Los superheroes de abuelo” – From New York, NY

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“Well, this is my third time as a finalist and I also had the privilege of winning the competition before. To be honest, I never considered myself a playwright (I still don’t do it) but I thank Repertorio Español and MetLife for trying to prove me wrong once again.This is the perfect showcase of one’s work. Sometimes you write things and don’t know what to do with them… they probably end up in a drawer collecting dust.

Thanks to this competition, people like me have a window to expose not only our work, but also to express the way we think about certain issues concerning our Hispanic heritage. That is priceless. Bravo for Repertorio!”

KUROS CHARNEY
Writer of “Silent Exile” – From New York, NY

Kuros Charney_headshot

“Nuestras Voces has provided essential exposure for my play The Silent Exile. Though the play has had several staged readings, the road to full production is often a long one, and the support of Repertorio Español has identified The Silent Exile as a relevant piece of Latino theatre. Ultimately, however, The Silent Exile serves a broad audience of all cultures. Part family drama, part political thriller, the play explores our role as citizens and the American political process with which we all must reckon, tackling universal themes of love, ambition, and the struggle to maintain one’s ideals in an unforgiving world—a universality that is coherent with Repertorio’s mission. Only when we share each other’s concerns—across race, gender, class, etc.—will the dream of America be fully realized. Thank you, Repertorio, for working toward this dream.”

DANIA RAMOS
Writer of “Hielo” – From Bloomfield, NJ

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“Being selected as a finalist in the MetLife Nuestras Voces National Playwriting Competition has been enormously affirming for me as an emerging playwright. This is the first time my work has been acknowledged on the national level, and the recognition is particularly meaningful since the mission of the contest is to introduce voices that speak to the Latino experience. We are incredibly fortunate to have Repertorio Español offer such significant exposure to our vast and varied stories.”

MATT BARBOT
Writer of “El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom” – From Brooklyn, NY

Matt Barbot

Nuestras Voces has encouraged me to continue to write my point of view on the Latino experience, and given me the opportunity to share it. To paraphrase my protagonist Alex, I wanted to see El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom, but since it didn’t exist yet I had to write it myself.

The classics and the canon of Hispanic theater remain as powerful as ever, but they often don’t represent the realities and struggles those like myself have lived. I grew up coming to see shows at Repertorio Español, so it was an honor to hear my play being read on the very stage that taught me so much about the heritage of Latino theater; it’s also amazing to me to know that a theater so invested in that heritage is equally committed to embracing the complexity of Latin theater’s future. What would it mean for my play – which is about Nuyoricans, comic books, and Twitter – to come to life on a stage where works by Lorca and Lope de Vega have also lived?

Nuestras Voces is creating a theater community where Latino voices are allowed to be vibrant, diverse, and modern – that’s a community I look forward to contributing to.

JOSELO ARROYO-GARCÍA
Writer of “El traje de novia” – From San Juan, PR

joselo

“In times in which the excessive use of technological advances and social networks can contribute to individualism, it is vital that we not lose that collective identity that defines us, to live it, share it and to pass it on to our new generations. It is better to be more focused on what unites us rather than what divides us.

Having had the opportunity to write a play from my Puerto Rican reality, from my island, and that reflects the identity of Hispanics living in the USA, it is a great example of that. We are all one, our cultural identity still defines us and guide us, we cannot forget that. As long as we do not forget who we are and where we come from, we will remain a single family in the world, no matter where we live.”

STEPHANIE WEBER
Writer of “María García is Having your Baby” – From Chicago, IL

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“This competition tells a story I want to share about expectations Latinas face. I know that being half-Cuban and growing up in the Midwest gives me a unique viewpoint on what it means to be Latina. I am so grateful that Nuestras Voces allows me to share my point of view with a brand new audience.”

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