Austin Script Works and Teatro Vivo combine forces for phase one of a three-phase commitment to new work by Latino writers

Austin Script Works, the regional advocate for playwright and new play development, and Teatro Vivo, the leading Latino production company in the area, are teaming up to present a festival weekend of new play readings, community involvement, workshops, mentorship, and celebration.

Primer Paso is the culmination of the first phase of the Latino Playwrights Initiative. In the spring, ASW and Teatro Vivo put out a call for new short plays by Latino playwrights. Playwrights from all over the country submitted work. Six plays were selected by a committee that included theater professionals from Texas and California. These plays will receive a professional, public reading with Austin actors and directors, as well as the advice and mentorship of guest artists Michael John Garcès, a playwright and director and the Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles, and Kristoffer Diaz, a playwright and educator with Cleveland Playhouse. The festival will include a playwriting workshop and a party.

The festival includes new works by Austin playwrights Monika Bustamante, Amparo Garcia-Crow, and Zach Gonzales; Lakeway writer Guillermo de Leon; and California writers Paco Jose Madden (Los Angeles), and Marisela Trevino Orto (San Francisco), both of whom will be in town for the festival.

“Every playwright needs opportunity, inspiration, mentorship, and connection,” says C. Denby Swanson, Artistic Director of Austin Script Works. “Our Latino Playwrights Initiative will develop new voices and bring their work to the attention of theaters all over the region. When the community of writers grows, every playwright, every artist, every audience member benefits. That writers are willing to fly in from California for this opportunity speaks to the giant need for this kind of festival. Moreover, ASW has already been fielding phone calls from national theater companies who want to produce works by Latino writers and are looking to Austin for names and introductions.”

Rupert Reyes, Artistic Director of Teatro Vivo, says, “El Primer Paso marks the beginning of our journey toward creating a new home for the development of new plays by Latino playwrights. Austin is known as the Music Capital of the World. The Latino Playwright Initiative will stake our claim as the Teatro Capital del Mundo. This is a fantastic beginning, thanks to all those who submitted their work and to Script Works for their support of Latino playwrights.”

Each of the short plays had to somehow include three “ingredients” provided by theater luminaries Caridad Svich, whose new play THRUSH is being premiered by Salvage Vanguard Theater this fall; Elaine Romero, a Los Angeles-based playwright and television writer, whose play for youth ALICIA was commissioned in 2005 by Zachary Scott Theatre; and Michael John Garcès. There were no other requirements for subject matter or theme.

“The festival will be a place where artists and audience can talk about identity and art, politics and production, language and liberty,” says Swanson.


October 6 – 8 PM
Keynote Event with Michael John Garcès

October 7 – 2 PM
Playwriting Workshop with Kristoffer Diaz
$15 for ASW members, seniors & students / $25 for general public

ASW $15 public $25

October 7 – 8 PM
Public readings of six new plays by local and national Latino writers
$5 for ASW members, seniors & students / $8 for general public

ASW $5 public $8

October 7 – 10 PM
Catered, with beer & sangria

All events take place at the Vortex Theater,
2307 Manor Road (1/2 mile East of I-35, between Chestnut and Maple)
On bus route #20. Free Parking. Wheelchair accessible

Reservations can be made emailing or by calling 454-9727.