Fornés Playwriting Workshop
Fornés Playwriting Workshop, 2018. Front row (l-r): Cristina Frías, Marilo Nuñez, Mónica Sánchez, Nancy García Loza, and Anne García-Romero. Back row (l-r): Georgina Escobar, Taeyin Cho Glueck, Javier Luis Hurtado, Nikkita Duke, Julia Izumi, Migdalia Cruz, Adrienne Dawes, Exal Iraheta, Juan Francisco Villa, Oscar A. Cabrera, and Dolores Díaz. (Photo: © Paloma Garcia-Lopez.)
“For over thirty years Fornés developed an innovative playwriting method as she taught across the United States, as well as internationally in England, Ireland, Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, and India. Fornés alumni include award-winning playwrights Luis Alfaro, Brooke Berman, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Migdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, Josefina Lopez, Eduardo Machado, Oliver Mayer, Cherríe Moraga, Ken Prestininzi, Elaine Romero, Sarah Ruhl, Bernardo Solano, Octavio Solis, Kelly Stuart, and Caridad Svich, all of whom teach or have taught elements of the Fornés playwriting method in theatres and universities across the country…
The Fornés playwriting method encompasses an experiential practice based in physicality, orality, and community. The goal of this practice is to help writers generate new play material that arises from their unique inner worlds. These playwriting-method elements include centering movement, guided visualization, basic drawing, found materials (aural, written, visual), and communal writing. I define Fornés’s pedagogy as a method, from the Latin methodus, meaning “mode of proceeding.” Fornés invented this artistic mode so that writers could proceed from engaging in physical movement and creative inspiration to generating innovative theatrical worlds…
Sustaining Fornesian playwriting in the twenty-first century continues to be essential. Fornés stopped teaching early in this century due to the onset of her battle with Alzheimer’s. For over a decade, while her former students continued to teach her methods, no pedagogical spaces existed solely dedicated to the Fornés playwriting method. Thus, in 2016, I coordinated and helped launch the Fornés Playwriting Workshop (FPW) sponsored by the University of Notre Dame, where I serve as an associate professor of theatre, with additional support from the Latinx Theatre Commons and the Fornés Institute. Award-winning playwright Migdalia Cruz, one of Fornés’s longtime students, taught the summer intensive. Cruz’s completion of five HPRL residencies (1984–91) and her work as Fornés’s assistant make her one of the few playwrights who received sustained, in-depth, and consistent training with Fornés.” –
From “Replicating Irene’s Room: Fornesian Playwriting in the 21st Century” by Anne García-Romero, Theatre Topics 2021.
FPW ’16, ’17, ’18 were held in Chicago, sponsored by the University of Notre Dame, in collaboration with the Latinx Theatre Commons and the Fornés Institute.
FPW’16 presentation was directed by Sandra Marquez at Chicago Dramatists.
FPW ’17 presentation was directed by Carlos Murrillo at The Greenhouse Theatre.
FPW ’18 presentation was directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce at the Goodman Theatre.
FPW ‘21 was our first virtual workshop, sponsored by the Latinx Theatre Commons, in collaboration with the Fornés Institute, for 65 writers from across the U.S. and around the world including Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina and India.
“It was an extraordinary experience All sorts of unexpected things emerged in my work and I felt like suddenly there were new rooms of inspiration open to me both as a playwright and a teacher of writing. I rarely use this word but I would describe the experience as completely life changing. I feel resuscitated as person and an artist. It was also magical to do it in a room with artists of all different backgrounds and ages. That was a cornerstone of the program’s success.”
-Cusi Cram (FPW ‘16), playwright, television writer, and associate chair of the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University, New York University
“This is the most important workshop happening in the United States right now. It must be continued.”
-Ken Prestininzi (FPW ’17), New Dramatist playwright, Associate Professor and Chair of the Theater Department at Connecticut College
“I feel honored to have been a part of such a special and important workshop. It changed how I look at writing and teaching. It changed how I see myself in the context of the Latinx theatre creators in North America. It changed my life.”
- Marilo Nuñez (FPW’18), playwright, director, doctoral candidate in Theatre & Performance Studies at York University in Canada