NEW YORK CITY: The Sol Project, an initiative designed to help raise the visibility of Latina/o playwrights, has launched. Founded by artistic director Jacob G. Padrón, the project will partner with Off-Broadway companies and resident theatres over the next several years to develop and produce the work of a cohort of 12 emerging and established writers. The project’s first production will be the world premiere of Hilary Bettis’s Alligator, directed by Elena Araoz, in November at ART/New York Theatres and coproduced with New Georges.
“This endeavor represents a fulfillment of the American theatre’s promise to be a space for all American stories,” said Padrón in a statement. “I am deeply moved by the commitment of these institutions to help lift up our Latina/o playwrights and put them in dialogue with the most respected theatremakers, creating the new American canon, for a new American theatre. A spirit of generosity animates our work as we share our cultures and communities through our stories.”
The project was conceived by Padrón, a senior line producer at the Public Theater, after the 2013 Latina/o Theater Commons national convening. The Sol Project founding members are Padrón, Araoz, Claudia Acosta, Adriana Gaviria, David Mendizabal, and Laurie Woolery. The theatres that have committed to producing and developing plays with the initiative are Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, the Public Theater, Labyrinth Theater Company, Atlantic Theater Company, and Women’s Project Theater.
The plan is for 12 plays, one by each writer in the cohort, to receive world premieres in New York City and subsequent productions around the country. Additional partner theatres will be announced a later date.
“It takes a village to make any piece of theatre,” said Daniella Topol, artistic director of Rattlestick Theater Company, in a statement. “The Sol Project, with its innovative structure and committed partner theatres, has created an expanded village that gives a platform to Latina/o voices that have not been heard as loudly as they deserve. I look forward to getting to know the other work that the partner theaters will be producing and imagine that this initiative will inspire other communities to create similar models.”
The project will engage not only with Latina/o playwrights, but also with directors and designers of color. The production of Bettis’s Alligator will coincide with the 2016 Latina/o Theatre Commons convening in New York December 1-4, hosted at the Public Theater. Bettis is a staff writer on FX’s “The Americans,” and her play The Ghosts of Lote Bravo is currently having a National New Play Network rolling world premieres. The play will be performed in Spanish at the Cleveland Public Theatre in March 2017, which marks the first time a rolling world premiere has been performed in two languages.
The inaugural members of the Sol Project’s honorary board are Daphne Rubin-Vega, Junot Diaz, Raúl Castillo, Tony Plana, Priscilla Lopez, Sandra Marquez, John Ortiz, Rosalba Rolón, and Diane Rodriguez.
“We are proud to be part of the initial cohort of Sol Project partners,” said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. “The Sol Project is an inspiring and exciting example of theatre artists creatively organizing to change the field, and the world. Here’s to more!”