There are only four chances left to see this Jeff Recommended production of THE MADRES in Chicago, beginning tonight at 8PM.
“The Madres” is an overwhelmingly welcome work, one of the best of the year thus far. Its wrenching second half puts the talents of its ensemble fully on display as Walker arranges her own elaborate takedown of impotent masculinity. And yet, what matters most here is not the pathetic frailty of a couple of men but the durability of the women. “The Madres” demonstrates that women persevere, excel and conquer despite constant attempts to quell their spirit and impoverish their existence." - Kevin Greene for Newcity Stage
The Madres is produced by Teatro Vista in the Richard Christiansen Theatre at the Victory Gardens Theatre Center at the Biograph.
I started writing plays in Chicago in or around 1999. It might have been 2000. I was working for a commercial theatrical production company - Fox Theatricals - as the executive assistant to the Executive Producer Mick Leavitt. We were opening the Cadillac Palace Theater with Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida. Thoroughly Modern Millie was in production. Fox Theatricals was making big things happen including a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with Gary Sinise at Steppenwolf. I was already a writer then. I wrote fiction and poetry. But, it was this inredibly exciting entrance into the world of live theatre that had me try my hand at playwriting. That and passing by Chicago Dramatists on my way to and from work. I took a chance and signed up for a Dialogue Workshop taught by playwright Lisa Dillman. That class changed my life.
I still remember the first scene I brought into class. Lisa arranged for actors to come in and read our short plays and though it was a cold reading, hearing my words come to life so briliantly hooked me immediately. That was it. I fell hard for playwriting. Now, 18 or 19 years later, a play I wrote is opening at the Biograph theater produced by the wonderful company Teatro Vista, under the direction of Teatro Vista's Artistic Director Ricardo Gutierrez and starring an extraordinary cast led by THE Ivonne Coll. This is absolutely a "pinch me" moment. Last night, one of my former colleagues from those Fox Theatricals days-- Eileen LaCario- was in the audience of our final preview and this all came full circle for me. The encouragement I got from my bosses and colleagues and family back then is what allowed me the courage to take the first steps down that path.
I dreamed of this moment. Of seeing a play of mine up on a beautiful and brightly lit marquee. And now it's happening.
I tend to focus too much on outcomes and miss the moment. I'm making sure to presence myself to the accomplishment of this moment and savor it. My heart is filled with gratitude.
Tonight we open a play that has been a long labor of love. THE MADRES. I wrote the first draft in 2015, but you could say that I began writing it long before that. Perhaps before I was even writing plays. When a friend invited me to go with her to the Plaza de Mayo and march with las Madres one Thursday afternoon in 1998. I hadn't known much about Las Madres, los desaparecidos or the dictatorship before then even though I spent time in Argentina throughout my childhood and even though I have Argentine relatives and even though I was a Spanish major in college and even though the first time I was in Buenos Aires when I was 5 was during the dictatorship. I still didn't know. So, I started researching and continued to read about this very painful period in Argentine history over the years. I was inspired by these women-- the first to stand up and call out the dictatorship at great risk. They used their voices to bring the world's attention to what was happening in Argentina and they never gave up. It's a complicated period and one that the world should know about. I am a character-driven storyteller and as such, this play is about the characters more than it is a "history play." It's a play about a family set in a specific moment in history.
I hope it entertains, horrifies, challenges and ultimately inspires audiences. Though this play is about a difficult and dark subject, it's filled with moments of hope and joy and humor. Because that's what we do. We humans. It's how we survive.
I am filled with gratitude for the care that Ricardo Gutierrez and this entire company has given this story. And I'm so excited for Chicago audiences to see their work as they bring it to life. It's a beautiful production. Don't miss it.
THE MADRES by Stephanie Walker
Directed by Teatro Vista's Artistic Director Ricardo Gutierrez
Assistant Director: Cruz Gonzales-Cadel
Playing in the Richard Christiansen Theater at the Biograph in Chicago now until May 27th.
As The Madres is opening in Chicago this weekend, it's closing in Los Angeles and you have only three chances left to see it here in L.A.
Peter Finlayson of Footlights LA wrote about THE MADRES at Skylight:
"I walked out knowing that I had just witnessed the very essence of why intimate theatre is not only important, but essential."
The raves have poured in all run.
A MUST-SEE...stunning cast. POWERFUL - Elaine Mura, Splash Magazines
A powerful night of theatre that will keep you on the EDGE OF YOUR SEAT - Abigal Swoap, Annenberg Media
MESMERIZES. GO SEE The Madres... Incredibly strong performances [by] two female powerhouses - Gil Kaan, BroadwayWorld
RECOMMENDED - TOP TEN! ...a harrowing, gut-wrenching climax - Neal Weaver, StageRaw
SHOULD NOT BE MISSED - Eric A. Gordon, PeoplesWorld
FANTASTIC PERFORMANCES. It’s particularly timely with the oppression happening in this country these days. - Harker Jones, ArtsInLA
We're so proud of this production and these incredibly gifted and giving actors. They are extraordinary and I don't want you to miss their stunning work.
This Friday night will be like a second opening night for THE MADRES at Skylight in L.A. as enigmatic Denise Blasor steps into the role of Josefina taking over for Margarita Lamas. Denise was in a reading of THE MADRES at The Road Theatre Company in L.A. in 2016 directed by Emily Chase. If you've already seen the show, come back and see it again with Denise in the role. Welcome, Denise! I'm so excited to watch you breathe life into Josefina!
Get your tickets here!
Next week I'll be in Chicago for the first week of rehearsals for the Chicago production of THE MADRES with Teatro Vista with the amazing Ivonne Coll!!!! I keep pinching myself. I'm so excited for her to bring her talent to this production and the character of Josefina. She's a force.
And guess what! Tickets are on sale now.
I was five years old the first time I visited Buenos Aires. That was 1980, during the military Junta that disappeared an estimated 30,000 Argentines. Many years later when I was living and working in Buenos Aires, I went one Thursday to see and walk with The Madres de La Plaza de Mayo. Inspired by these women and the strong women in my own life including my mom, my Argentine stepmom and my grandma, I decided to try to find a way to tell their story. It wasn't until I became a mother myself that I found a way.
I wrote the first draft of THE MADRES in February of 2015. Since then, I've been on a journey with this play and the people who have championed it along the way. One of those people is Arianna Ortiz who is currently starring as CAROLINA at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles in the first of four productions that make up the NNPN Rolling World Premiere of THE MADRES. Her work as CAROLINA is heart-wrenching and stunning. As is the entire cast. If you are in L.A., I hope you will come see their beautiful work. Critics have been weighing in and calling The Madres "mesmerizing," "harrowing," and "gut-wrenching."
is a story about the strength and resilience of women. It's about brave women who refused to be silenced. When they chose to speak out, to stand up and march, they were called "crazy/ Las Locas" - as women who speak truth to power often are. No one believed their stories of their missing children. No one believed the government could or would do such a thing. No one wanted to believe them. This didn't stop Las Madres from speaking out, demanding justice and showing up every Thursday to march right in front of the Casa Rosada (Argentina’s equivalent of our White House.) Las Madres - the original Women’s Marchers- were the first to resist the Argentine dictatorship.
The timing of the world premiere of The Madres is remarkable because it seems people are finally listening to women. I pray that we never stop listening. There is so much we can learn from Las Madres and their brave act of resistance. Let us never forget, let us never be complacent in the face of injustice, let us always be as brave as Las Madres. Ni olvido, ni perdón!
Now through April 29 at the Skylight Theatre in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A.
“American Home, Stephanie Alison Walker’s world premiere play at the Fremont Centre Theatre in Pasadena, journeys into the impossible choices and resilience that people have when they’re about to lose everything and shares their heart wrenching yet touching stories in a fearless theatrical experience.” – Rachel Flanagan
During the time that Bob and I were fighting to keep our house out of foreclosure in 2008/2009, I wrote a play called AMERICAN HOME. That play has been given a beautiful production by Little Candle Productions at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena and is closing this weekend. That means you still have four chances left to see it!
If you’d like to know more about the show and what went into writing this play, you can read this lovely piece in the Pasadena Weekly by Bliss Bowen.
I hope you’ll come see the show!
ADAA IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE FINALISTS FOR THE $10,000 2016 SAROYAN/PAUL HUMAN RIGHTS PLAYWRITING PRIZE FINALISTS
The Good Minister from Harare by June Carryl
A low-level bureaucrat is plunged into a nightmare wonderland of red tape, government thugs and revolutionary zealots after a visit from his father. When the past won’t stay buried, do you turn a blind eye and live, or die a martyr in the bloody business of liberation? Gutting by Jeremy J. Kamps Fourteen year-old Kali and her mother Eunice return to the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans two years after Hurricane Katrina to find that “home” is no longer there. Despite the forces of systemic racism driving them away and apart, this mother and daughter learn that loving each other is both an act of resistance and renewal.
The Madres by Stephanie Alison Walker
It’s Buenos Aires, 1979. Two women search covertly for Belen, nine months pregnant and one of the many disappeared people in Argentina’s so-called “Dirty War.”
Paradise by Laura Maria Censabella
Yasmeen Al-Hamadi is a devout Yemeni-American Muslim girl at a struggling inner-city Bronx high school. Dr. Guy Royston is her disaffected science teacher, a former Evangelical with a mysterious past. An unlikely research team, together they embark on a neurological study, leading to stormy conflicts over love, faith and culture.
Doing Time by Jerry Goralnick
Based on actual events that took place in July and August of 1957 when Judith Malina, co-founder of The Living Theatre and Dorothy Day, co-founder of The Catholic Worker shared a cell for thirty days in the New York City Women’s House of Detention for protesting civil defense drills. All the incarcerated women in the House of Detention were twenty-year-old prostitute junkies and as they came to know who Dorothy was they would come to her and confess their life stories.
Zona Rosa by Carlos Morton
An activist medical doctor trying to spread awareness of the AIDS epidemic in 1980’s Mexico City is murdured along with four other Gay men in a homophobic crime.
How to Conquer America by David Myers
In 1975, an un-proven research assistant created an ad campaign that turned a queer fermented-milk product into the 9 billion dollar a year phenomena it is today. Now, Arlene Hoffman, along with the ghost of her dead immigrant father, will tell us how she did it. A story of culture, appropriation, family, and the American Dream.
Bhuta/Kala by Nathaniel Sam Shapiro
Bhuta/Kala follows a troupe of Balinese Hindu religious theatrical performers, who simultaneously are perpetrating the Indonesian political genocide of 1965 while preparing and ultimately enacting the famous play of Barong and Rangda, a traditional tale of good versus evil. As the personal, political, and religious blend together, the play asks when neighbors take up arms against neighbors throughout history, what stories have perpetrators told themselves to enable their inhuman acts?
The Hunters by Jen Silverman
When a Vietnamese-American man kidnaps the grandson of the American soldier who killed his grandfather, he must confront the thin line between reparations and revenge. Can we ever find a way past the histories that determine our lives, or does history loom too large to ever be overwritten?
People Like Us by Melanie Anne Ball
Otherland by David Cote
When After All, It Was You and Me by Kevin Doyle
Silence by Jason Grote
Kidnap Road by Catherine Filloux
This is Only A Test by Eric Reyes Loo
Sh ofu, Wianbu Pi by Lucy Sheen
A Guide For The Homesick by Ken Urban
How to Wear A Headscarf Tutorial (Part One) by Alannah Olivia
The last year has been a very good one for my new play about the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina, The Madres. I have been terrible about updating my site with all of the exciting news, so here I am doing it now in one big post.
BOULDER ENSEMBLE THEATER COMPANY – GENERATIONS PRIZE
Rehearsing The Madres for the Generations Prize reading with BETC. Pictured L to R: Daniel Jimenez, Chris Kendall, Jaime Lujan & Gabriella Cavallero
As the winner of the Generations Prize, I traveled to Boulder, CO for a week-long workshop of The Madres culminating in a public reading at the Boulder Public Library directed by Heather Beasley. It was an incredible experience. The Generations prize is for playwrights who are parents to children under the age of 18. I strongly encourage anyone who fits that demographic to apply!
EUGENE O’NEILL NATIONAL PLAYWRIGHTS CONFERENCE
The Madres was a FINALIST for the O’Neill this year! This was the first time I’ve reached the Finalist level with any play for the O’Neill.
“It is the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s pleasure to recommend Stephanie Walker and their play THE MADRES as a finalist for our 2016 National Playwrights Conference. The play rose through a competitive, anonymous, multileveled selection process that took nearly nine months to execute. As one of 54 finalists out of more than 1,450 submissions, the strength of its writing has allowed this work to prosper in such a competitive selection process. Our readers responded to the way women at the center of the play gave us a sharp and empathetic view into the larger political situation.” – New Play Exchange
KITCHEN DOG THEATER’S FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS – FINALIST
I was very happy that The Madres was a named a finalist for Kitchen Dog Theater’s festival of new plays.
JANE CHAMBERS FEMINIST PLAYWRITING CONTEST – RUNNER-UP
The Madres was a runner-up for the Jane Chambers Feminist Playwriting Contest. The announcement of the award called The Madres, “taut, elegant and expertly crafted.” The award was given to Emma Stanton’s powerful play NO CANDY. I was honored to be a runner-up.
THE ROAD SUMMER PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL 7
The Madres received an amazing reading at The Road Theater’s Summer Playwrights Festival 7. The reading was directed beautifully by Emily Chase and had an outstanding cast including: Arianna Ortiz, Denise Blasor, Marcelo Tubert, Kyla Garcia and Daniel Penilla.
The wonderful cast of The Madres at The Road’s SPF7
ASHLAND NEW PLAY FESTIVAL WINNER
The Madres is a winner of the 2016 Ashland New Play Festival! I’m thrilled to be traveling to Ashland, Oregon in October with The Madres for the festival. I’ve heard amazing things about this festival and have submitted many plays over the years. I’m very excited to work with my director Leah Anderson to bring The Madres to life in Ashland.
Last night my new play THE MADRES was read in San Diego and it was magical.
The reading was presented by Amigos del Rep of the San Diego Rep. It was directed by the incredible Herbert Siguenza and featured the talents of Arianna Ortiz, Catalina Maynard, John Padilla, Daniel Penilla and Alexandra Lemus.
I have wanted to write about the unbelievably courageous and inspiring Madres de La Plaza de Mayo/ Las Madres de Los Desaparecidos for a long time.
This play is dedicated to them and their extraordinary stand in the face of the indescribable circumstances of the “Dirty War.”
I learned so much about the play last night by hearing it reflected back to me by the savvy San Diego audience that filled the house.
Gracias, San Diego!
Gracias, Amigos del Rep!