Monday, November 30, 2020

Three groundbreaking plays are now in one book for the first time: “The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro: Electricidad; Oedipus El Rey; Mojada”

By Daniel A. Olivas

It is not controversial for me to assert that Luis Alfaro is one of our great contemporary playwrights. And we can add to that pronouncement that Alfaro is also one of our most important Chicanx voices in theatre today.

But as Professor Rosa Andújar notes: “To reduce Luis Alfaro simply to ‘playwright’ is to do a major disservice to a vastly talented artist, who is also a successful performer, director, producer, journalist, filmmaker, educator, and social activist.” Professor Andújar, who is the Deputy Director of Liberal Arts and Lecturer in Liberal Arts at King’s College London, makes this observation in the introduction to the newly released The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro: Electricidad; Oedipus El Rey; Mojada (Methuen Drama/Bloomsbury), which she edited.

This volume brings together for the first time the three “Greek” plays by the MacArthur Genius Award-winning Chicanx playwright. Alfaro based these plays on

Sophocles’ Electra and Oedipus, and Euripides’ Medea, where he brilliantly transplants the ancient themes and problems into the 21st century streets of Los Angeles and New York. In doing so, Alfaro gives voice to the lives of the Chicanx and Latinx communities and neighborhoods that he knows and loves so well.

Professor Andújar not only offers a richly annotated introduction at the beginning of this volume: each of the three plays also begins with a separate introduction that contextualizes the dramatic work in a way that is both enthralling and enlightening. The book includes the plays’ production histories, a glossary of the Spanish and Spanglish terms Alfaro uses, as well as an interview with Alfaro himself.

Alfaro’s Greek Trilogy is a must-read for any student and fan of contemporary theatre. And for those of us who have a particular love of Chicanx and Latinx drama, this volume will bring immeasurable reading pleasure and enlightenment.

On a personal note, I was honored to have my first play included with Alfaro’s play-in-progress this year as part of the Playwrights’ Arena Summer Reading Series. He was so supportive and encouraging of me, and I will always be grateful for his thoughtfulness. Alfaro is as kind as he is brilliant.

As a special treat during this time of COVID, the Center Theatre Group and the Getty have produced Alfaro’s Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey, and Mojada that may be streamed free online until January 20 (links are embedded in the plays’ titles immediately above). Of course, donations are always welcome.

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