Austin Latino New Play Festival Spotlight: Dramaturge Brianna Figueroa


Brianna Figueroa was the dramaturge for Luchadora, which debuted on May 9, 2014, at the Mexican American Cultural Center in downtown Austin. After the show, I caught up with Brianna to ask her some questions about theatre, her job as a dramaturge, and of course, “Luchadora”! Brianna is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin.

How did you become involved with Teatro Vivo?

I’ve worked as a dramaturge on a number of various productions at UT and was referred to Teatro Vivo by a professor/mentor who knew that my interest in Latina/o performance and representation coincided Teatro Vivo’s mission.

What are the main duties of a dramaturge?

Dramaturges have many jobs and that can differ form production to production. Often, being a dramaturg is about making sure the playwright and director have access to the research and thoughful feedback they need to be able to produce their best work.

What was the most challenging aspect of being a dramaturge for Luchadora specifically?

Time! Luchadora went up on a very tight time scale. Such time constraints can be useful because they encourage production teams to rely on gut reactions and really push forward, but naturally-they also limit the amount of critical engagement that can lead to the evolution of a play, especially one that is still in progress like Luchadora.

What is the scene that you connected with the most in Luchadora?

I was struck by a primary theme in Luchadora. In the play, the female characters struggle against customary gender roles that threaten to keep them from developing their talents. I’m currently watching my own goddaughter, a curious, opinionated, and athletic third grader go through the same thing. It’s hard seeing how some of the people who love her the most want to steer her away from being too “tomboy” because of tradition. In Luchadora the young girls are precocious, strong, and capable, even when the odds are against them- showing how flimsy tradition can be sometimes.

What are your plans after graduating from the University of Texas?

I am a Ph.D. student at UT. When I finally reach my graduation date I’ll be looking to teach, research, and continue my artistic practice in a university setting.

Has working on Luchadora given you a different perspective on anything regarding Latino/a culture and traditions?

Luchadora makes room to both celebrate and be constructively critical of Latina/o culture. I appreciate that the playwright, Alvaro Saar Rios, creates lovable characters that are imperfect. Latinos are invited to see their own culture joyfully reflected on stage but also consider the ways that we exclude or make harmful boundaries for some, particularly women, within our communities.

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