Nilo Cruz

The Pulitzer Prize winner is Named the 2019-20 Distinguished Visiting Playwright-in-Residence at UCLA TFT

Teri Schwartz, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT), has announced the appointment of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz as the school’s second Hearst Theater Lab Initiative Distinguished Visiting Playwright-in-Residence. Cruz will assume his role for the entirety of the 2019-20 academic year.

"We are very proud and excited to welcome the extraordinary Nilo Cruz to UCLA TFT as our 2019/20 Hearst Theater Lab Playwright-In-Residence. I have no doubt that he will have a transformational impact on our students and all of our community," Dean Teri Schwartz says. 'Nilo's inspiring and groundbreaking plays are very much in harmony with our vison and mission at UCLA TFT as the 'storytelling school,' and with the goals of our Hearst Foundation Theater Lab Initiative. We are confident that Nilo will add immeasurably to the life of our School by generously sharing his brilliance and artistry with our amazing students."

Cruz, a Cuban-American, gained national prominence in 2003 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Anna in the Tropics, a Depression-era tale about migrant Cubans working in a Tampa, Fla., cigar factory, for which he also received a Tony Award nomination. The immigrant experience is a common theme in many of Cruz's plays and he has become known for his ability to successfully weave strains of magic realism and other literary traditions into his works.

In addition to the Pulitzer, he has received numerous awards, including those from the Kennedy Center Fund, American Theatre Critics and the Humana Festival for New American Plays; as well as grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.

His plays include Dancing on Her Knees; A Park in Our House; Two Sisters and a Piano; A Bicycle Country; Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams; Lorca in a Green Dress; Beauty of the Father; Hurricane; and A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, as well as translations of Doña Rosita the Spinster; The House of Bernarda Alba; Life Is a Dream; and ¡Ay, Carmela! His work has been seen at numerous theaters around the country including, among others, South Coast Rep, the Mark Taper Forum, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Washington D.C.’s Studio Theatre and New York’s Public Theater; and around the world in Canada, England, France, Australia, Germany, Belarus, Costa Rica, Colombia, Japan and Spain.

As a lyricist, he is a frequent collaborator with composer Gabriela Lena Frank. He has written the libretti for The Conquest requiem and the Santos oratorio for Ms. Frank and the text of orchestral songs, La Centinela y la paloma. Cruz also adapted Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel Bel Canto for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with Peruvian composer Jimmy López and recently premiered the Dreamers oratorio by López at Cal Performance in Berkeley, Calif.

Cruz, who received an M.F.A. from Brown University and an honorary doctorate degree from Whittier College, has twice previously served as a playwright-in-residence: In 2000, for the McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, N.J., and in 2001 for the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Fla., which commissioned Anna in the Tropics. Cruz has also taught drama at Yale, Brown and the University of Iowa. He is a member of the New Dramatists.

Last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel was named the inaugural Hearst Theater Lab Initiative Distinguished Playwright-in-Residence.

The Hearst Theater Lab Initiative is made possible by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, which in 2018 gifted $250,000 to UCLA TFT in support of its central vision as the pre-eminent storytelling school.

Posted: September 24, 2019