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Black and Latino Playwrights Conference celebrates decade milestone

By Kristina Kenney
University News Service
September 10, 2012

Eugene Lee

Eugene Lee

For the 10th consecutive year, the Texas State University-San Marcos Department of Theatre and Dance will host the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference Sept. 10-16.

Since 2002, the conference has attracted numerous professional guest artists, directors and actors to the university to work hands-on with theatre students, give panel discussions and showcase the work of black and Latino playwrights from across the country, all culminating into public staged readings at the end of the conference.

Eugene Lee founded the conference a decade ago and still serves as its artistic director, along with Joe Luis Cedillo. The mission of the conference has always been to study the craft, nurture the artist and celebrate multicultural theatre.

“I still cling to a vision of more growth, though I am so encouraged by all the evolution thus far,” said Lee, who is also an alumnus of Texas State’s theatre program and has spent more than 30 years in the entertainment industry. Beyond his prestigious list of TV and film roles, highlights of his long stage career include working with Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson on the Pulitzer Prize winning “A Soldier’s Play” with the Negro Ensemble Company.

“Every student who has participated in the past has let me know in no uncertain terms that they've learned more in this week long experience than in a semester of some classes,” said Lee. “The conference has become a destination for more and more theatre artists because of how it fills a void in the opportunities available for development of black and Latino playwrights.”

Black and Latino Playwrights Conference

This year’s guest playwrights include Adam Esquenazi Douglas, Bridgette Wimberly and Rhada Blank. Guest directors include Kinan Valdez, Melissa Maxwell and Clinton Turner Davis. Guest actors will be Fran Dorn, Ruben Gonzales, Elizabeth Pena and Manuel Zarate.

Playwright Gus Edwards will also present a tribute to this year’s conference honoree, playwright and director Douglas Turner Ward. Ward co-founded the historic Negro Ensemble Company in 1965, which has become one of the most critically acclaimed black theatre companies in the country over the last 50 years.

Department of Theatre and Dance Chair John Fleming said the conference has helped students network with professional actors, playwrights and directors, grow a more diverse theatre program and honor major black and Latino figures in American theatre.

“The goals that we set out to help young playwrights of color and to increase the diversity within the theatre department have been reached partly through the process of this playwright’s conference,” said Fleming.

All conference events will take place in the Theatre Building on the Texas State University Campus in San Marcos:

Sept. 10-13
Play Rehearsals
6-10 p.m., rooms 201, 206 and the Studio Theatre
Open to the public

Sept. 14
Q&A panel with guest artists
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., room 206

Sept. 14
Tribute to Douglas Turner Ward
Presented by Gus Edwards
7:30 p.m., Mainstage Theatre

Sept. 15
“Plays by African-American Texans”
Presented by Sandra Mayo and Elvin Holt
10 a.m.-11:45 p.m., room 209

Sept. 15
History of the Negro Ensemble Company
Presented by Gus Edwards
1:15-2:45 p.m., room 209

Sept. 15
“Tango Through the Revolution”
By Adam Esquenazi Douglas and directed by Kinan Valdez
3 p.m., Mainstage Theatre
$5 admission on all seats

Sept. 15
“Seven Sisters”
By Bridgette Wimberly and directed by Melissa Maxwell
7:30 p.m., Mainstage Theatre
$5 admission on all seats

Sept. 16
“Casket Sharp”
By Rhada Blank and directed by Clinton Turner Davis
12 p.m., Mainstage Theatre
$5 admission on all seats

For more information on the conference, contact the Department of Theatre and Dance at (512) 245-2147 or visit www.theatreanddance.txstate.edu/blackandlatino/2012-Conference.html. To purchase tickets beginning Sept. 10, call the Texas State Box Office at (512) 245-2204.