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Renowned Latina playwright is first Sackler artist-in-residence
By Sherry Fisher - June 20, 1997

One of the most prominent Latina playwrights in the United States has been named the first Sackler Artist-in-Residence in the School of Fine Arts.

Migdalia Cruz of New Canaan, an award-winning, published and widely produced playwright of 27 plays, musicals and operas, has been commissioned to write a play dealing with the effects of war on children, a topic she has been researching for two years. Cruz will be in residence at UConn in the winter while the play is developed in a workshop by the Connecticut Repertory Theater in the Department of Dramatic Arts.

The Sackler Artist-in-Residence program was established by Raymond and Beverly Sackler to bring nationally and internationally renowned artists, playwrights and musicians to the University to create new works, while working with students. The Sacklers, of Greenwich, are longtime generous supporters of philanthropic activities, particularly in the areas of art, medicine, biological and natural sciences, mathematics and archaeology.

"Beginning with the residency of Migdalia Cruz, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Artist-in-Residence program brings the greatest professional talents in drama, music and art to the University of Connecticut to create new works of art, while working with our students," said Robert Gray, dean of the School of Fine Arts. "In a very real sense it is a return to the Renaissance master-apprentice program - and I am confident it will have equally inspiring results over the years."

Unique voice
"One of the joys of having Migdalia Cruz in residence at the University is that in addition to being one of the country's leading playwrights, she is a unique Connecticut voice," said Gary English, head of the dramatic arts department and artistic director of the Connecticut Repertory Theater. "Migdalia's exploration of the topic of the effects of war on children is sure to be powerful and provocative, because her writing is honest and uncompromising. Our students will gain valuable experience and insights from the opportunity to work with her in the development of this new play."

Cruz's work has been produced by Playwrights Horizons; INTAR; Brooklyn Academy of Music; En-Garde Arts; HOME for Contemporary Theater and Art; DUO; New York Shakespeare Festival's Festival Latino; Theater for the New City; W.O.W. Cafe (New York); Foro Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (Mexico City); Old Red Lion (London); and Latino Chicago Theater Company.

Her plays include Miriam's Flower, Lucy Loves Me, Dreams of Home, Telling Tales, Occasional Grace, Winnie-in-the-Citie, Running For Blood: No. 3 (a radio play) and Whistle.

She wrote the book and lyrics for the musicals Rushing Water, Welcome Back to Salamanca and When Galaxy Six and The Bronx Collide; the libretto for an opera, Street Sense; and lyrics and monologues for Frida: The Story of Frida Kahlo.

Cruz has been a guest lecturer at Yale University and Columbia University, and has taught playwriting at Princeton University and Amherst College.

Cruz was a 1996 recipient of the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays for Another Part of the House. She was a Playwriting Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts in 1991 and 1995; a Pew/Theater Communications Group national artist in residence in 1994, and a 1988 McKnight Fellow. She won a 1994 Connecticut Commission on the Arts grant for playwriting and her play, The Have-Little, was runner-up for the 1991 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Cruz, a New York City native, earned a master of fine arts degree in playwriting from Columbia University in 1984.