2023 Austin Latinx New Play Festival

Teatro Vivo is proud to present the 2023 Austin Latinx New Play Festival. The festival is to be read live at the Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, TX April 27th – 29th, 2023.

Celebrating it’s 13th year, the Austin Latinx New Play Festival unites playwrights and audience members in conversation about four new play readings that bring insight into the Latinx experience. The staged readings are workshop-style presentations. After each reading, the playwright and director participate in talkback sessions with the audience. Though the productions have Latinx roots, they explore cross-cultural age-old themes and modern dilemmas that will surprise, challenge, engage and push the dramatic envelope for audience members accustomed to one-way conversations at the theater.

April 27th – 7:00 PM “Cocina Latina”
April 28th – 7:00 PM “Growing up with Big Hair”
April 29th – 11:00 AM “el bailador”
April 29th – 2:00 PM “Papakō: The Journey”
April 29th – 7:00 PM “Diving Board”

Featured Plays

“Cocina Latina” by Joey Florez

Laura’s overworked, overqualified, and underpaid; a single mom stuck working for her ex’s family, desperately longing for time with her daughter, and a menu she’s proud of. With her former brother-in-law running the restaurant into the ground, Laura leans on her team to make this Cinco de Mayo bigger than ever and finally get back to black. When the restaurant falls under investigation for improperly used pandemic loans, Laura must find out where the money’s gone or face losing everything she has left.

Joey Florez Jr. Is an Atlanta-based actor and playwright. Having earned his BA in English where he studied systems of oppression and liberation through a linguistic lens, adding a minor in Religious Studies and a Certificate in Latin American Studies towards gaining a deep understanding of the stories we tell, and the ones we don’t. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Writing for the Stage and Screen at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. His writing aims to lift voices long-held in vacuums, combining his love for his home, culture, and Spanglish tongue.

“Growing Up With Big Hair” by Diana Mucci

Growing up with Big Hair is a play based on the true story of a young girl’s journey growing up Latina in the middle of an absolute Black & White world. From the time she moves into an all-White Chicago neighborhood, Anna finds herself wrestling with her hair as she wrestles with her identity. With a little laughter and a lot of Dippity-Do, she struggles to find her place in-between.  When she discovers her family’s secret on her 18th birthday, she is finally confronted with the truth of who she really is. 

Born and raised in Chicago’s Southside, Back of the Yards neighborhood, Diana is an Afro-Latina author, playwright, poet, professional speaker, producer, and mother-of-four. She was inspired by her multi-ethnic family to share stories out loud that could draw laughter from a crowd. A former English teacher and technology executive, Diana has performed as an actress and has written, published and/or produced short stories, children’s books, poems, TV commercials, indie films, and in 2005 her first play, “I’m a Female. . . Seeking a Male”, produced by PROP THTR and New Horizons Entertainment, was a box office hit, earning a ‘recommended’ from the Chicago Sun-Times. Diana revised the comedic play, now entitled “Come ‘n Go”, and co-produced a wildly successful production in 2018 at The Factory Theatre in Chicago. Diana’s credits also include co-producing the indie full-feature film, Bloom which premiered at the 22nd Chicago Latino Film Festival in 2006, won best drama at the Palm Springs Film Festival and earned a Women-in-Film grant. In 2020, she performed a virtual monologue of her short story “SPIT” with the esteemed nonprofit A New World Of Theater as part of ‘8:46 a Time to Listen’ – a collection of stories and monologue by Black playwrights. Diana established her own production and publishing company, Back of the Yards Entertainment  and in 2021, produced a virtual “Latinx Playwright’s Workshop Festival” that included 10-minute plays of Latinx playwrights and her own work entitled, “Breaking News”. She performed “Breaking News” as a monologue in Generation Women’s storytelling night at the Caveat Theatre, New York City in June 2021. She just completed her new play, Growing Up with Big Hair, based on the true stories of a young Afro-Latina who wrestles with her hair and identity after moving into an all-White neighborhood. Diana is a member of The Dramatist Guild of America, New Playwright’s Exchange, Amigos del Rep through the San Diego Rep Theater, the Playwright’s Collective with A New World Theater and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

“el bailador” by Mateo Hernandez

el bailador is a play for all audiences that centers a young Chicanx boy named Pablo who loves to dance but only does so in the privacy of his room. Afraid of what his family might think, Pablo forms a personal relationship with every physical space in his family’s apartment. When Pablo, his brother and his parents must move into his grandma’s house along with his uncle and cousin, his anxiety is exacerbated by his family being around every corner in the new house. Pablo has nowhere to explore his self-expression and grief of his recent grandpa’s passing but is finding new musical inspirations through the Tejano music that fills his grandma’s house. But he is quickly asked to confront his anxieties and trepidation when a family quince hosts the baile at his grandma’s house. 

Mateo Hernandez (he/they) is a queer, Latinx theatre maker, applied theatre practitioner,pedagogue, and scholar currently residing on the ancestral lands of the Tonkawa, Lipan-Apache, Karankawa, Comanche, and Coahuiltecan people, also known as central Texas. They are an MFA candidate in Drama & Theatre for Youth & Communities at The University of Texas at Austin where their research interests include queering pedagogies and performance through transgender epistemologies and queer feminist abolitionist practices in art making. As a playwright, his play “spayce boys” has been chosen for the 2020 Ingenio New Play Festival (Milagro Theatre, Teatro Vivo, Cara Mia Theatre) and the 2021 New Plays for Young Audiences: BIPOC Initiative (NYU Steinhardt). Their creative writing revolves around issues of gender and sexuality within Latinx/Chicanx culture. Mateo is also a company member with FYI (For Youth Inquiry) a performance company in Chicago, IL making participatory theatre around issues of reproductive justice.

“Papakō: The Journey” by Maria F. Rocha, Roxanne Schroeder-Arce and Genevieve Schroeder-Arce

Prompted by a mysterious message from beyond the grave, Juan and Jose set out on a harrowing trip that eventually leads them to the White Shaman mural near Comstock, Texas. In those dark, cliff-recesses, overhanging the converging Pecos and Rio Grande rivers, the cousins cross over into the mystical world of their ancestors and a new message is conveyed – “return our bodies to Mother Earth.” follow this inspirational journey across Texas that leads two teenagers into a colliding confrontation against a powerful institution that is determined to maintain their collection and never allow reburial. The playwrights of “Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet” bring you another heart-warming Indigenous story you’ll remember forever.

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce (she/her) is Associate Dean of UTeach Fine Arts and Associate Professor of Theatre Education at The University of Texas at Austin. As well as an administrator and teacher, Roxanne is an artist, a scholar and arts advocate. She has worked as a playwright and director on plays for youth with companies in Austin such as Teatro Vivo, the Indigenous Cultures Institute, Austin Playhouse, the Scottish Rite Theatre, and ZACH Theatre and throughout the state in theatre such as Dallas Children’s Theatre (Dallas), and Magik Theatre (San Antonio). She has published several plays with Dramatic Publishing, including Señora Tortuga, Mariachi Girl and she co-authored Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet with Maria Rocha, which recently won the distinguished play award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Roxanne has also published articles in journals such as Youth Theatre Journal, International Journal for Education & the Arts, Nakum Journal, and Theatre Topics and chapters in books including Latinos and American Popular Culture. Roxanne is a white, non-Indigenous member of the Board of Elders of the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos and a board member of Teatro Vivo in Austin. She is also a cadre member of the Center for Educator Development in the Fine Arts and has served on the Fine Arts writing committee for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. www.roxannearce.com.

“Diving Board” by Malena Pennycook

From the top of a ten meter diving board, 17 year old Annie sees the face of a man ripple across the water and, subsequently, in everything she does. Joanna thinks it’s God, Tiernan’s too focused on States to pay attention and Rico just wants to get laid. Diving Board is an athletic new play about the terror of young womanhood and the ways that we cope with the things in the shadows.

Malena Pennycook (she/they) is a Latine writer & performer currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting at The University of Texas at Austin. Malena creates formally inventive theatre that explores violence, bodies and femininity in the American and Global South. Their plays include Diving Board (O’Neill Finalist 2022; CRASHBOX Austin); Two Apprentices (Kennedy Center: Latinx Playwriting Award, Rosa Parks Playwriting Award 2022); and their solo show Am I Busy Yet? (Cosmic Cherry Arts NYC 2022; Oregon Fringe 2021). As a performer-deviser, Malena has developed new projects with The Public’s Under the Radar, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, The Flea Theatre, Fresh Ground Pepper, The Brick, Dixon Place and more. Malena was a 2022 New Harmony Project resident, 2019 Richie Jackson Artistic Fellow and a 2017 Santa Cruz Shakespeare Acting Fellow. BFA: NYU Tisch Experimental Theatre Wing.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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