Karen Zacarías’ new play Destiny of Desire opens September 11 at Arena Stage at the Mead Theater for American Theater. Her award-winning plays include The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, the adaptations of Just Like Us and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent plus many more. She collaborated on the libretto for Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet. She is one of the inaugural resident playwrights at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three children. Learn more at www.karenzacarias.com.
Why are you a playwright?
A play is live literature; a written medium that depends on people being alive and together in a room. And since I am a writer and an extrovert…playwriting affords me the opportunity to begin a world with words, and then actively build that world with artists and an audience.
What type of theatre most excites you?
I really am open to lots of types of theater: Very theatrical, abstract, kitchen sink, dramas, comedies, musicals…as long as there is something truthful and moving and surprising in the storytelling. I always appreciate a well-constructed play; I also love messy inspired, hard to define plays even more.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
Sometimes it’s an image from a scene that I see in my mind. Sometimes it’s the feeling I want to create in the audience. I am always aware of the audience when I write; the point of all my stories is to create a response from the people that see it.
Do you have a favorite writing place?
I write a lot at my kitchen table, my computer surrounded by breakfast bowls and coffee mugs. I also write a lot a Tryst Coffee Shop…also with my computer surrounded by coffee mugs and plates.
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
I wrote Destiny of Desire exactly a year ago and had a reading of it at Arena. It was a play that had lived in my mind for a while. I am fascinated by telenovelas and their effect on their audience. I really wanted to write a very engaging and evocative play about the power of the telenovela that would test the genre and employ a large Latino cast while being a love letter to the theater. The result is a Brechtian telenovela with original songs and wild plot twists.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
DESTINY OF DESIRE
September 11 – October 18, 2015
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater
1101 Sixth Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Details and Tickets
What female playwrights have influenced your writing and how?
Locally, I am inspired by the works of Jennifer Nelson, Caleen Sinette Jennings, Ally Currin, Audrey Cefaly, Heather McDonald, D.Wiskeyman, Renee Calarco, Laura Zam and many others. Other powerful influences have been Maria Ines Fornes, Caryl Churchill, Sarah Ruhl, Lisa Loomer, Lisa Kron, Julia Cho,and others.
What’s missing from theatre today?
More faith in our audiences. And a real active diverse season that will attract diverse audiences.
What are you working on now?
In addition to working on Destiny of Desire, I am working on Oliverio: A Brazilian Twist set to premiere at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Native Gardens, a comedy set to premiere at Cincinatti Playhouse; Into the Beautiful North in a rolling premiere from NNPN; a musical adaptation of Ella Enchanted for First Stage and Adventure Theatre; and a revival of Looking for Robert Clemente at Imagination Stage this spring.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
a diplomat, or salsa dancer or a beach bum.