Interview with Leonard Madrid
Tell us about yourself and/or your work.
My Name is Leonard Madrid. I grew up in the small eastern New Mexican town of Portales. I went to Eastern New Mexico University and the University of New Mexico.
My work is usually referred to as Latino Theatre, Magical Realism, Chicano Theatre, or Brown Theatre. I tend to write plays set in my home state. A series of plays, which I am calling a Family Tree, are all set in my home town.
How did you get started writing for performance or producing theatre?
Ha! That’s a rough one. My parents took a workshop from Teatro Campesino when they were in school. They always encouraged us to do Teatro. We just didn’t know at the time that Teatro and Theatre weren’t always the same thing. When I started high school, I immediately signed up for Drama I.
At the time I was in undergrad, the program at ENMU focused on making strong theatre generalists, so I was required to take courses in every aspect of theatre. As part of my degree, I took courses in playwriting. After writing a few plays I was encouraged to write plays about my people and my culture. So, that’s what I started doing.
Who/what instigates you and/or your work?
Mythology, Design, Collaboration.
What recurring ideas/themes/forms &/OR what do you want your work to accomplish?
I like the term “Tiny Mythologies”. Though, we think we are all living in the same world, we really aren’t. Each family has a different mythology about how their family fits into the greater world. Every town has its child stealing monsters. Every kid believes that if they do the right things at the right time a wish will come true.
It’s these personal mythologies that my plays seem to be about. Tecolotito is all about family legends. Volver Volver Volver is a world where brujeria always works. Aurora uses small mythologies of a pantheon of gods and Star Trek. I am only interested in realism to an extent. How do regular people react in a world with different rules?
How does your connection to NM guide, inform or inspire your work.
New Mexico is the home of small mythologies. There are monsters and saints in every doorway. The devil and death walk the streets and attend the local baila. Little gods swim in our rivers. We might be in a desert, but it’s not a story desert.
What’s next for you and/or your work?
I am working on a Bestiary. I think it will be a series of plays about different regional monsters. Some of the creatures are already in the lore, some are new. I am also continuing work on the Family Tree of plays all set in my home town.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers of this site?
New Mexicans have been making theatre for centuries. It is important for us to look at our work through all of our cultural heritages, and not devalue it because it doesn’t match the benchmarks of just one.