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Acclaimed Playwright Melinda Lopez Comes to Boston College 2019-20

Acclaimed Playwright Melinda Lopez Comes to Boston College 2019-20

Award-winning playwright Melinda Lopez has joined the Boston College Theatre Department as the Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J. Professor in Theatre Arts for the 2019-2020 academic year.

With a body of work that spans more than two decades, Lopez was called "one of Boston's most important writers," by WBUR-FM. She was the 2019 recipient of both the Massachusetts Cultural Council's (MCC) Award in Dramatic Writing, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's (BTCA) Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence for "consistently enriching the Boston theater community as a playwright, actress and educator."

At Boston College, Lopez will teach two classes: Contemporary American Theatre during the fall semester, and Playwriting I in the spring. In January the BC Theatre Department will present production of her play Back the Night, which explores sexual violence on college campuses, directed by Pascale Florestal, a Boston-based director and educator.

Lopez's plays have been performed around the country at such notable theaters as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Guthrie Theater, Laguna Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare and Company, The Huntington Theatre Company, and ArtsEmerson.

As a Cuban-American, Lopez said in a 2015 MCC interview, she intentionally places "brave, complicated, and uncompromising Latina women" at the center of her work, and frequently focuses on the stories of Cuban or Cuban-American characters.

Her most recent work, Yerma, (Huntington Theatre Company, 2019), is an adaptation and new translation of Federico García Lorca's play of the same name. Yerma, described as a woman "consumed by her dream of motherhood, defies her husband and confronts her community," which ultimately "propels her into a collision with the universe that is urgent and terrible in scope." According to Arts Fuse, "Lopez succeeds at putting her own stamp on the work without disrupting or diverting the play's dramatic contours...[her] translation makes the language of the play approachable without losing the beauty of Lorca's poetry."

Her one-woman show Mala, which Lopez wrote and performed, was presented at ArtsEmerson in 2016. According to her website (melindalopez.com) it is "an utterly unsentimental journey towards the end of life, the play is an irreverent exploration of how we live, cope, and survive in the moment." The production was praised by WBUR's The ARTery as "an exquisitely fashioned theater piece, brimming with humor, frustration, and honesty," and Boston Magazine called it her "most profound work yet."

Mala won the BTCA Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding New Play, and Lopez earned the Arts Impulse Award for Best Solo Performance. In honor of the world premiere of Mala-and in recognition of her many accomplishments-Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh proclaimed October 29, 2016 to be "Melinda Lopez Day" in the city, and urged "fellow Bostonians to celebrate her enormous contribution to the theatre field both locally and throughout the world."

Lopez was Huntington Theatre Company's playwright-in-residence from 2013 to 2019, through the Mellon Foundations National Playwright Residency Program. In 2010 she was named a "Woman of Courage Honoree" by La Alianza Hispana, an organization whose mission is to improve the lives of the Latino community of Massachusetts. Her play Sonia Flew won the 2004 Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award and the BTCA Elliott Norton Award for Best New Play and Best Production. In 1999 she was the first recipient of the Kennedy Center's Charlotte Woolard Award, given to "a promising new voice in American theatre" for her play, The Order of Things.

Also an accomplished actress, Lopez has performed at regional theaters across the country. An assistant professor of playwriting at Boston University and a visiting lecturer of theatre and performance at Wellesley College, Lopez has a master's degree in playwriting from Boston University and a bachelor's degree in drama from Dartmouth College.

Asked in a 2017 interview with the 50 Playwrights Project her advice for playwrights beginning their careers, she said: "Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Write what you want to write. Tell the truth. Be good to everyone you work with and work for. Listen to actors. Have faith, have faith, have faith."

The Monan Professorship in Theatre Arts was established in 2007 by a gift to Boston College in honor of the late University Chancellor and former BC President J. Donald Monan S.J.. The position, which also commemorates the late Trustee E. Paul Robsham, enables the Theatre Department to bring nationally and internationally known professional theater artists to Boston College to teach and work with undergraduate students. The position has previously been held by actor Maurice Parent , Nederlander Executive Vice President Nick Scandalios (a 1987 BC alumnus), lighting designer Scott Clyve, playwright Sheri Wilner, director/actor Michelle Miller (a 1998 BC alumna), and director/actor Tina Packer, among others.


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