Black and Latino Playwrights Conference

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Black Latino Playwright Conference

By Shannon Williams
KTSW Other Side Drive

Eugene Lee, artistic director for the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference and artist-in-residence with Texas State’s Department of Theatre and Dance, started the conference eight years ago. The conference serves as a development workshop for professional writers to work unproduced and unpublished plays. The goal of the conference is to showcase works of black and Latino playwrights from around the country.

This year’s conference will highlight activist, educator and Texas playwright, Ted Shine. His play, titled “Contribution,” will be presented at the conference. It’s about the civil rights movement, which is also Texas State’s Common Experience theme for the 2014-2015 academic year. The reading of the play will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the main stage in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.

“He is due a lot of recognition because there are a lot of writers and a lot of young African American writers and artists and educators who are standing on his shoulders.”

Two playwrights will have the opportunity to have their play dissected and read by Lee, as well as participating students and the public. At the end of the reading, the playwright will sit on stage with sunglasses on in front of an audience and posed the question: “What made sense?”

Lee encourages writers to seek clarity and depth in their characters. The audience talk-back gives the writer a chance to see what he calls “the export.” This refers to what the audience member gets out of the play and gives them a true sense of the experience that’s related through it.

The program has evolved over the course of it’s 12 year history. The conference now includes panels with members from the industry and the playwrights whose work was chosen for the readings.

Brief description of Highlights in the Conference:

Saturday at 2:30pm: Panel titled “Swimming up Mainstream”
This is a conference focused on the idea or tendency for writers of color to homogenize their work in order to communicate a broader idea. This can include anything from using politically correct language or writing white characters into their work.

Saturday at 7:30pm: Live reading of the play “Sweet” by Harrison David Rivers
A story about the American South and the reactions of two young sisters when a neighboring boy returns from college.

“On the 5-3-1” play by Mando Alvaredo, which explores a man’s relationship with his wife in a surrealistic manor. The audience must discover what is true and false in this short play.

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