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We’re excited to have Playwright Alexis Scheer curating Series 4 of our Play Discussion Club, entitled A Spotlight on Latinx Voices. Alexis’ play, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, recently made its Off-Broadway debut at WP Theater and was named to the Kilroy’s List in 2019. Her most recent play, Laughs in Spanish, had its world premiere at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in 2019 and was recently selected for the National New Play Network’s Annual National Showcase of New Plays. We asked Alexis a few questions about what to expect for the upcoming series of plays and what she’s been up to during the pandemic.
Tell us about the latest installment of SpeakEasy’s Play Discussion Group, which focuses on Latinx Voices. What can we expect in this iteration?
A party! We’ll be celebrating Latinx History Month by diving into the rich world of Latinx Theatre. We’ll be reading and discussing Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez, Mojada by Luis Alfaro, Dream Hou$e by Eliana Pipes, and my own Our Dear Dead Drug Lord. With this sampling of plays I’m hoping to show diversity in tone, form, and perspective. We’ll explore Latinx life in different corners of our country, and touch on themes like immigration, gentrification, war/revolution, and magic.
The playwrights of each work will all be joining the Zoom discussion of their play. How does their participation affect the conversation around their plays?
Having the playwright part of the conversation gives us unique access to what I like to think of as the world beyond the world of the play—all the inspiration, research, and insight outside the margins of the page.
Are there any common themes or characteristics among the works under consideration?
The use of language is exceptional—it’s theatrical, lyrical, acrobatic, and eviscerating.
How did you get your start as a playwright?
Public arts education! I wrote my first little hand written plays in middle school, and then went on to take my first formal playwriting class in high school at New World School of the Arts (imagine Fame set in Downtown Miami). But I didn’t actually start calling myself a playwright until grad school, which is when the actor part of myself finally clicked with the writer part of myself in an organic but intentional way.
Who are the writers who have influenced your work?
Paula Vogel, Sarah Kane, Jose Rivera, and of course Melinda Lopez. I also want to single out Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, which in reading was a watershed moment in my own writing journey.
How have you been spending your downtime during the pandemic?
Staying engaged in this current political moment, educating myself and having conversations with the people I’m in community with. Creatively, I have my plate full with a few commissions from different theatres—so I’ve been doing a lot of reading, research, and writing for those. I’ve been dipping my toes into TV development which has been really fun. And also jogs along the Emerald Necklace, daydreaming on Zillow, and probably too much scrolling on TikTok.
What do you hope participants take away from this play discussion experience?
I hope participants walk away with a deeper curiosity and hunger for Latinx Theatre. The plays we’re reading only skim the surface of this deep ocean of work, and I hope I can encourage people to take the dive.