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Alfaro appointed resident playwright of Shakespeare Festival

Luis Alfaro will be responsible for creating a three-play cycle about California religion and politics. (Photo/Courtesy of USC School of Dramatic Arts)

USC School of Dramatic Arts Assistant Professor Luis Alfaro has been appointed resident playwright of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Alfaro will serve in that capacity for the next three years courtesy of a Mellon Foundation grant. The appointment marked the first time in the festival’s storied 78-year history that a resident playwright has been named.

As resident playwright, Alfaro will be responsible for creating a three-play cycle about California religion and politics, as well as join the company as a dramaturge and organizer. He is currently serving as a dramaturge for this season’s The Tenth Muse, which will open in the summer, and is helping to organize the company’s first Latino play initiative, which will feature a festival this summer as well. He will also sit in on season planning, casting and marketing meetings.

“The joy of working for the largest repertory company in the U.S. as a resident playwright is inspiring enough, but the access that Artistic Director Bill Rauch and his staff are giving me in helping to diversify and strengthen the core of new play development at this much-loved institution is beyond belief,” Alfaro said. “Most playwrights create the work, which is gift enough, but I am being allowed to help create the audience and experience as well. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The School of Dramatic Arts has had great success in placing some of its recent graduates, including Nathan Singh ’10, Ashley Singh ’08 and Kacy-Earl David MFA ’09, in the festival’s professional development program that provides participants with an advanced fellowship, assistantship, internship or resident opportunity to learn the best practices across all administration, artistic, design and production disciplines within their Tony Award-winning theater environment.

Alfaro is a Chicano writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theater, short stories, performance and journalism. He is also a producer/director who spent 10 years at the Mark Taper Forum as associate producer, director of new play development and co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. He was born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, blocks from the USC campus.

Alfaro is a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “Genius Grant,” which is awarded to people who have demonstrated expertise and exceptional creativity in their respective fields. He is the only artist to have won two awards in the same year from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Fund for New American Plays. He is also the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group and PEN Center USA, among others.

He is a member of New Dramatists and an associate artist at both Playwrights’ Arena and Cornerstone Theatre Company in Los Angeles.

Alfaro’s plays and performances have been seen throughout the United States, Canada, England, France and Romania, and he was the winner of the Glickman Prize for best play of the 2010 season in San Francisco.

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