Just before his work came to UTEP Theater, Andrew Siañez-De La O hosted a free playwriting workshop for those who are passionate about learning and producing work in this field. The course took place on October 21 at the Fox Fine Arts Center and was the perfect space for UTEP creatives to come together, collaborate and ask questions.
While the meeting was aimed at helping playwrights progress in their work or connecting them with different resources, Siañez-De La O managed to touch on a wide variety of topics that could help any writer grow in their projects. He first focused on the importance of making the stories you want to see exist where no one else can.
“I was writing this play because I thought, ‘Nobody else is going to write it, nobody else is going to do it,'” Siañez-De La O said. is how I will make my mark. This is how I will take up space.
He also mentioned that there is an overriding expectation that writers of color face when it comes to the literature or media they want to produce, so getting a foothold in those spaces is extremely important.
“I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t very interested in writing this piece. I was writing it because I felt like that was what could be produced, that was what people were interested in,” Siañez-De La O said. “That’s what people want to see from brown writers. (Write) about dystopias, about diasporas, this kind of lived experience.
Following that, he broke down some ways writers take meaningful stories about race, gender, class, and more, and shape them in various ways. Most notably, he recommended a tip passed down to him in which “parlor pieces,” which encompass all of the previously listed topics, were placed in unfamiliar environments to help challenge the audience.
“Tell this play through sci-fi, tell this play through fantasy,” Siañez-De La O said. , they will expect a play. They will expect the piece on class dynamics and diasporas.
When the themes are moved to a different genre with a more fantastical setting, an audience that might initially be unaware of these lessons can begin to view them more critically and with an open mind. Siañez-De La O’s advice followed these broad lines where traditional playwriting can be reworked through different lenses while keeping the heart of the stories that want to be told.
He also gave attendees a glimpse of a few places across the United States where their work would be best received and interpreted by others in the field. From access to actors to teachers, the theater company resource list was perfect for students who have already found their plays traveling with them outside of El Paso.
He listed a few places like the Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles. In the Boston area, he recommended places like Company One, Fresh Ink Theater and Huntington Theater. For a city like New York, it also listed Pipeline Theater Company.
Siañez-De La O gave students with questions about acting, playwriting, and opportunities plenty of resources and really dissected their curiosity in a very thoughtful way. He put a lot of effort and detail into his answers, which made the workshop very productive.
In case students want to view his work and see all his suggestions implemented, Siañez-De La O’s piece “Borderline” will be presented and available for everyone at 7:30 p.m. on October 21, 22, 27, 28 and June 29 Sadowski Kruszewski Studio Theatre.
It will be presented at 2:30 p.m. on October 23 and 30 at the same location. Tickets are available for purchase at the UTEP box office or on ticketmaster.com
Meagan Garcia is the Arts and Culture Editor and can be reached at [email protected].