Amid the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017, and under the leadership of Jenna Chrisphonte, the Dramatists Guild of America launched a series of initiatives to support playwrights in Puerto Rico. Two and a half years later, a group of playwrights living on the island met to discuss new ways the Guild could continue supporting this artistic community. Beyond professional development, which everyone agreed was needed, Brigitte Viellieu-Davis suggested starting a playwrights’ collective. The group immediately welcomed the idea and began defining its purpose and need. As I am writing this, I think about the educational theater program I am running here in the schools. Roots and Action emphasizes the importance of community as it encourages students to become agents of change. Since the hurricanes and recent earthquakes, it is clear to most Puerto Ricans that community-based initiatives best serve the needs of the people. Since January 24, thirteen playwrights have joined the collective with the hope of creating change in the Puerto Rican theatre. It is an uphill battle anywhere, but especially in a bankrupt country, to produce work that does not necessarily please the commercial taste. Many producers here believe that in a country where the vast majority operates in survival mode, an audience wants to be entertained without having to think about our shared reality. The collective intends to support a group of playwrights that do not write to please but who create art by challenging the norm, while building a community of theatregoers who appreciate being treated as independent thinkers.
www.teremartinez.com • www.rootsandaction.org