Teatro Vivo’s Austin New Play Festival spotlights works in progress

Teatro Vivo presents three new plays by Latino playwrights.

Teatro Vivo will be opening its doors for its third annual Austin Latino New Play Festival in conjuction with the Long Center for the Performing Arts and Scriptworks. The festival will last for three evenings, starting today and ending on May 18. The three performances include El Jardín Viviente by Ariana Medez, Quincea-WHAT? by Caroline Dobson Chavez and Petra’s Pastorela by Rupert Reyes. Performances will be taking place at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Rollins Theatre.

The Austin Latino New Play Festival is an event that allows playwrights to showcase their up-and-coming works. Their works in progress are presented in the form of stage readings where they use props and movements on stage.

“We present them to the public and the public is invited to come to and watch the production of the reading,” Teatro Vivo’s artistic director Rupert Reyes said. “They are then invited to stay where they get a chance to talk to the playwright and ask questions or make comments, all for the benefits of the playwright to be able to rewrite the script and take it further.”

This is the third year for the Austin Latino New Play Festival. It started off as a way to showcase Latino talent that did not have exposure.

“Throughout the country there have been real strong efforts by traditional theatre companies to develop Latino playwrights,” Reyes said. “Those people shut their programs down with the idea that there were already enough Latino playwrights out there and that they had done their job, and that’s not true. There was no one really promoting or trying to see the movement going of Latino writers, so we wanted to keep that alive and it’s a small effort that we are doing.”

Each year, Teatro Vivo has showcased three up-and-coming plays. Typically, they get 20 submissions. Any script that has received a full-stage production is automatically disqualified.

“Our purpose is really to develop a script, not someone to just get their play read again,” Reyes said. “Play writers do that to get any kind of publicity even though we clearly ask for scripts that have not had full production or are slated for production.”

There is a panel of actors and other writers from Austin that read and score submitted scripts.

“Our philosophy is that if we can’t engage in the first 25 pages of a play the audience will not be engaged either,” Reyes said. “They read those 25 pages and that’s what they score they score based on if you want to read the rest of the play, if you think that this is something that our audiences in Austin would enjoy a production of this play and what touched you personally about this play.”

After this the plays are narrowed down to five and playwrights are asked to submit the full script. From here the three plays are chosen to be read.

“It’s like your baby taking their first steps,” Reyes said. “You’ve only heard those words in your head, read it through your paper—that’s the first time you hear somebody else say those words and someone trying to recreate those emotions you wrote on paper and just having an audience responding and reacting. there is nothing more important to a writer.”

There are three-day passes available for $25 and $20 for student and seniors as well as $10 for reserved seats and $8 for students and seniors. There are a limited number of free general admission tickets that will be made available for the public. For more information, visit Teatro Vivo’s website.

Estefania de Leon

Estefania was born and raised a true Austinite. She graduated from Crockett High School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Courier for three years, and is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas. She enjoys blogging, photography, and anything Owl City.

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