8 Latinx, Hispanic, and Chicano/a Playwrights You Should Know

Written by Rosalind Helsinger

October 13, 2020

All of these incredible Latinx, Hispanic, and Chicano/a playwrights are still living today and revolutionizing the theatre scene with their inventive, award-winning work. This is only a small list of impeccable writers to check out this Hispanic Heritage Month, and we hope you continue to explore and support diverse playwrights!

Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980- )

No introduction needed; this immensely successful and influential all-around theatre renaissance man should be familiar to everyone. Just in case you were hiding under a rock since Hamilton crashed onto the Broadway stage, Miranda was born to parents of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood in northern Manhattan.

Plays To Check Out: In The HeightsHamilton 

Quote: “When I see a school with a huge Latino population do HEIGHTS, I feel a surge of pride that the students get to perform something that may have a sliver of resonance in their daily lives.”

José Rivera (1955- )

This incredibly talented playwright and screenwriter was the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar. Rivera’s family migrated from Puerto Rico when he was four years old and moved to New York City.

Plays To Check Out: MarisolAdoration of The Old Woman 

Quote: “I think the most important thing for me is to give flesh and blood reality to people who are far away and distant from most American concerns.”

Luis Alfaro (1963- )

This Chicano social activist, poet, playwright, director, and performance artist was raised in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, also known as the genius grant. 

Plays To Check Out: Oedipus El ReyBody of Faith

Quote: “I call myself a citizen artist because one of the things I do is try to get my playwrights — especially my graduate playwrights — interested in the world. It’s about how you connect art to culture and community here and now, and how we are vital to the expression of our community…”

Fernanda Coppel

This gifted playwright is also a screenwriter, working on acclaimed and popular shows such as How To Get Away With Murder. Coppel is of Mexican descent raised in California. She won the Asuncion Queer Latino Festival at Pregones Theater. Her play, King Liz, is in the works as a tv show from Showtime.

Plays To Check Out: Chimichangas and Zoloft, King Liz 

Quote: “I wrote [King Liz] during a dark period in my career; I was consistently hearing a lot of “no” and “you can’t,” which was wearing on me. So, I sat down to write a character who was successful, a woman of color, impenetrable, and who was able to say all of the things I wish I could say to my bosses and any negative people in my life.”

Octavio Solis (1958- )

This prolific Mexican-American playwright and author has written more than twenty-five plays. He recently received the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival in 2019. 

Plays To Check Out: Lydia, Santos & Santos

Quote: “I’m not a poet, but I do like heightened language that can exist in the theatre. Many plays are sounding more naturalistic these days, more like TV. I still take my cues from Shakespeare. I would rather have the story exist more in the audience’s heads than on a screen.”

Martín Zimmerman

This talented playwright and screenwriter identifies as multi-ethnic. He grew up bilingual and writes in both English and Spanish. He is a producer on Netflix’s Ozark and was a Staff Writer on Netflix’s Narcos. He was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series.

Plays To Check Out: Seven Spots on the Sun, On the Exhale

Quote: “Tell the stories you want to tell. Not the stories you think others expect you to tell. The ones you really, really want to tell.”

John Leguizamo (1964- )

You might already be familiar with Leguizamo’s voice as Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age franchise. This actor, stand-up comedian, playwright, and screenwriter comes from a Columbian Spanish background and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. 

Plays To Check Out: Spic-O-Rama, Freak

Quote: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, “They were able to do it.”

Rose Helsinger is a playwright and author studying Creative Writing at Florida State University. She is currently working toward her undergraduate thesis on Shakespeare and Adultery. Her one-act, Between Mars and Me, is available for purchase from YouthPlays.