The Oregon Shakespeare Festival recently learned that it is among a select number of national theaters to receive playwright-in-residence grants developed for producing theaters by the Performing Arts Program at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The grant of $303,000 will support American playwright Luis Alfaro for a three-year residency. Alfaro is OSF's first Resident Playwright, and he will be integrated into every aspect of OSF's life. He will collaborate with OSF to create a three-play cycle about the Latino immigrant experience in the United States. He will serve as dramaturg on at least one production over each of the three years, starting with Tanya Saracho's world premiere, The Tenth Muse, opening in July 2013. He also will be an integral part of OSF's leadership team and assist OSF in connecting with local Latino communities and strengthening outreach efforts in the Rogue Valley.
Alfaro worked with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch at Cornerstone Theater, Rauch's former artistic home, and Alfaro also wrote Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, which was produced at OSF in 2008.
"Luis' appointment as OSF's first-ever Resident Playwright is a major event in the life of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival," said Rauch. "OSF's founder Angus Bowmer, inspired by the example of William Shakespeare, first articulated the dream of a resident writer many decades ago. The idea has gathered momentum as the Festival has increased its commissioning and production of new work in the 21st century. Luis has a vital, poetic, adventurous and ambitious voice as a dramatist. He is also one of the most charismatic ambassadors for the art form of live theater of anyone I have ever met. His impact on our company, our audiences and our community will be immeasurable. I am especially grateful for the Mellon Foundation's unflagging leadership in our field for this residency and many others that put writers at the center of theater companies-where they belong."
Commenting on the residency, Alfaro said, "For years I have longed for the experience to work with a theater that can provide a space where I can dream, write and create, and one that has the resources that can take advantage of my own desires to connect community in ways that go beyond building audiences and are essential to how we make our work. When it happens with colleagues and friends, like Artistic Director Bill Rauch, who share in your vision of the theater, then there is alchemy in these moments. I am so grateful to the Mellon Foundation for the generosity and innovation in their thinking about these relationships and I am so proud to be one of the inaugural playwrights.
"Working in the theater can sometimes feel like the most ephemeral experience. One writes in an interior solitary of creativity, and then, if we are lucky, we get our work produced and off we go to the next adventure. But what if we playwrights could stick around and help define the life of the theaters we work in? This is immensely exciting because this is an old and a new idea at the same time. How exciting to be part of a company and imagine what a playwright's creativity might bring to the mix. I am honored to be part of one of the most important theaters in the U.S. to help in such dreaming."