Cuban-American Playwright Nilo Cruz To Become Honorary Poet

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nilo Cruz—award winning dramatist—will be returning to the Whittier campus to receive an honorary degree from the College: a doctorate of humane letters (L.H.D.), Monday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. in AJ Villalobos Hall, 7214 Painter Avenue, Whittier, CA. The playwright will also be attending the final performance of the theater department's all-student production of his play Beauty of the Father on Sunday, May 2 at the Ruth B. Shannon Center for Performing Arts.

Previously, Cruz visited the campus as part of the 2008 Writer's Festival and his work has been enthusiastically embraced by the campus community. Also in November 2008, the College's theater department staged Cruz's unpublished work of Lorca in a Green Dress. His latest play,Beauty of the Father this spring, will be performed April 28-May 2 at the Ruth B. Shannon Center for Performing Arts, www.shannoncenter.org.

Beauty of the Father takes place in 1998 on the Spanish coast near the Mediterranean Sea. The play brings to life a reunion between a bisexual painter named Emiliano and his estranged daughter Marina, both of whom harbor romantic feelings for a young Moroccan named Karim. The house where Emiliano resides is haunted by the spirit of the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca who offers counseling and guidance to the painter.

Cruz, a young Cuban-American playwright, won the Pulitzer for his playAnna in the Tropics in 2003, becoming the first Latino playwright to receive this award. A year later, the play premiered on Broadway with actor Jimmy Smitts in the lead role. The play was subsequently nominated for a Tony Award in 2004 and has since been performed in theatres across the country, including Pasadena Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Alliance, and Florida Stage.

Cruz's other plays include A Park in Our House, Two Sisters and a Piano,Night Train to Bolina, and Dancing on Her Knees. Cruz has won several awards and fellowships, including two NEA/TCG National Theatre Residency grants, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

Cruz is currently writing the book of the new Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy musical Havana (musical). The show will have its world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse in June 2010.

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