Interview With New Mexican Playwright Patricia Crespin
Tell us about yourself and/or your work.
My name is Patricia Crespin. I have been a theatre artist for about 20 years and began writing right around the beginning of the millennium.
How did you get started writing for performance or producing theatre?
I started writing for a couple of reasons. One was that, as an actor, I didn’t like that there were not too many great roles for Latinos, especially women and I wanted to change that. My big “aha” moment was when I was playing Arlene Holsclaw in Marsha Norman’s Getting Out. She was a great character, with tons of layers, and I thought “wouldn’t it be great to have a play with several great women characters?” So I wrote one. I produced and directed it at Highlands University and it was a big hit. I also, in my infinite wisdom, figured writing and producing plays would be a great way to get people in my circle talking about Latina issues, something that is very close to my heart. That is when my love affair with writing began.
Who/what instigates you and/or your work?
The first playwrights that come to mind, when talking about inspiration, would be Maria Irene Fornes and Luis Valdez. Their work has inspired me greatly, but I am attracted to all writers who push their audiences to the edge. Those writers who tackle tough issues and aren’t afraid to make their audiences uncomfortable or angry. Most of my work is that way. It wouldn’t be a Patricia Crespin play if at least one audience member wasn’t upset, crying, or just plain offended. And I’m okay with that. Actually, I prefer it. It means I’m getting to people. One play at a time.
Signature (what recurring ideas/themes/forms &/OR what do you want your work to accomplish) The women I grew up with are probably my biggest inspiration. They were strong, hard, angry women and when I learned why they were like that it made me strong, hard and angry too. They were also masters of “the secret”, and true to my roots I became one hell of a secret keeper as well. I’m talking the kind of secrets you take to the grave. The secrets you might catch your mother and your abuela whispering about over coffee in the cocina, when they think no one is listening. You’ll find those secrets in my work. Regardless of the uncomfortable feeling it gives me to bring them to light. Despite all the backlash and dirty looks I get from the women whose trust I am betraying. I write the secrets. Because they need to be written.
How does your connection to NM guide, inform or inspire your work ?
New Mexico is known for its vastness and its ability to provide its inhabitants with feelings of profound emptiness and loneliness. As a younger, 20-something, I couldn’t wait to escape that feeling. Now, I am totally enthralled by it. It has been a huge inspiration for my work. There is something so real, so raw about the land and it comes through in the characters I write. They too have that feeling of vastness, loneliness and isolation. And the history in this state is unbeatable. Especially Northern New Mexico. It is the inspiration behind lots of stories I have written and have yet to write.
What’s next for you and/or your work?
Right now I’m working on a dark humored series about a small town in Northern New Mexico which I will direct as well as write. I love film as much as I love theatre and will continue to do both as long as audiences will have me.
Anything you’d like the readers of this website to hear/know/think about?
It is my hope that I can reach and inspire as many people as I can with my stories…and maybe provide a bit of therapy for myself along the way. Basically, I’m in it for the long haul.