Christin Eve Cato
Edwards and Perez are book-binders at a U.S. correctional facility. As Edwards tries to convince Perez to join him on a strike against extremely low wages, Perez is faced with the dilemma of delivering the news to his distraught mate that he has been offered a promising position. New revelations are made as they talk about the injustices of the prison system that perpetuate modern day slavery.
Christin Eve Cato is a playwright and performing artist from the Bronx. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Indiana University and completed her BA at Fordham University. She is affiliated with NYC theater companies, Pregones/PRTT (ensemble member & former Resident Dramaturg), INTAR Theatre (UNIT 52 ensemble member), and the Latinx Playwrights Circle. Cato’s artistic style is expressed through Caribbean culture and the Afro-Latinx diaspora, honoring her Puerto Rican and Jamaican roots. She has developed her work with The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Harlem9, Milagro Theatre, Borderlands Theater, Teatro Vivo, Smith College, Indiana University, Texas State University, Cardinal Stage, The Road Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, and many others. She is a 2021-2022 Playwrights Center Core Apprentice. Cato is also a recipient of the 2021 ReImagine New Plays in TYA grant. She is currently represented by 3 Arts Entertainment and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I began my writing journey at the age of six, writing poems and church songs for the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Children’s Choir. My performance journey started in that same church choir, singing my little heart out every Thursday and Sunday. The church choir would be my life up until I attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, where my life completely changed. I was immersed in the history of music, how to train my voice, how to be presentable on stage, music theory to write and read music, and most importantly, the magic of theatre. Attending this school was one of the best things that happened to me! However, it was at LaGuardia where I also learned some painful lessons. At 15 years old, I auditioned for my first musical, West Side Story, an experience that taught me about how inequitable the industry can be. At this audition, I sat in a room with all the stellar Latina students who were called back for the role of Maria, to then later learn that an Italian American girl would get the part. Although this was a devastating moment, it was also a redefining one. I realized that the only way I would feel autonomy in my future career would be to create my very own work. The idea of writing became crucial to me. I would go on to college and study political science and philosophy because my family insisted that I have something to “fall back on,” but that never stopped me from creating.
After I graduated from Fordham University, I plunged right back into the performing arts scene and became a UNIT 52 ensemble member at INTAR Theater and Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre (PRTT). These two organizations housed me as an artist. However, these experiences on stage only created a stronger thirst for writing because I felt that MY stories weren’t being told. So, I started writing plays and producing them! My first self-production was in 2010, Our Christmas, a charming Puerto Rican holiday show that sold out two years in a row! Following this short-lived success would be small opportunities to read my work aloud with actors and an occasional director. However, my professional writing career really took off when I started grad school at Indiana University to pursue an MFA in Playwriting. Although I have been a writer all my life, I consider myself an emerging playwright because attending grad school was the catalyst that would force the rest of the world to recognize me as a writer- and not just as an actor. Since then, my work has been developed by INTAR, The Playwrights Center, The Kennedy Center, Harlem9, The Classical Theater of Harlem, The Musical Theatre Factory, Piper Theater Company (for TYA), The Road Theater Co. (LA), Milagro Theatre (Oregon), Borderlands Theatre (Arizona), Texas State University, Indiana University, Smith College, Teatro Vivo (Austin, TX), Cardinal Stage (Indiana), The Silverton Theatre Mine (CO), Pregones/PRTT, and the Latinx Playwright’s Circle (NYC).
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I wrote American Made in grad school, in a course entitled: Writing With The Masters, taught by Liz Duffy Adams. Every other week we studied a master playwright and wrote short plays using their styles and methods of playwriting. During the week we read Caryl Churchill, we read Far Away. I was inspired by Churchill’s description of a corrupt world and how she told the story through laborers working at a hat factory. Therefore, I decided to write about our corrupt labor system, particularly in the prison industrial complex. When I studied Political Science in college, one of my concentrations was prison reform. Therefore, this play came from a place of study and a passion for social justice. This play has been developed as a call for action and has also been adapted as a short film that is currently circulating on the film festival market.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Existential. Spiritual. Cultural. Raw Emotion. Socially Conscious.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
People are my major influences. I love people. I love learning about the journeys we take as human beings. I love expressing how similar we are because I believe in the power of connection and understanding. With my work, I aim to bring people of all different walks of life together because it is the most effective way to build our social consciousness. I like talking about the human experience. My work explores the flaws of humankind.
Culture and the AfroLatinx diaspora are also a major influence on my writing. I am interested in creating more stories that talk about this diasporic experience in America. Representation is really important to me. Preserving culture is imperative. Writing these stories is like writing archives for the future.
The Bronx and New York City- where I am from! This is a MAJOR part of my writing- my voice, the way I view the world, my experience in this world, the injustices I’ve witnessed, and the pain and joy that I have felt.
Major influences: Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Paulo Coelho, Bertolt Brecht, Suzan Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, Lynn Nottage, Caryl Churchill, Jose Rivera, Tennesee Williams, Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietri; Quiara Alegria Hudes, Marcus Gardley, Luis Alfaro, Tracy Letts, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and gosh – so many others!!
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I am an ordained wedding officiant! I also write personal ceremonies for the people I marry 🙂
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
By The Way, Meet Vera Stark; Intimate Apparel; A Raisin in the Sun; Fences; Ma Raineys Black Bottom; King Hedley II; Topdog/Underdog; Mud; FeFu and her Friends; Adoration of the Old Woman; Marisol; Cloud Tectonics; The Rose Tattoo; Water by the Spoonful; August: Osage County; Top Girls; Black Odyssey; Barbecue; Waiting for Lefty; Uncle Vanya; The Glass Menagerie; The Motherfucker with the Hat; The Last Days of Judas Iscariot; Oedipus Del Rey; Trouble in Mind; Is God Is; Dance Nation; Cullud Wattah; This list could honestly keep going…especially when I think of what my colleagues are currently writing!
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
My one-act play, The Good Cop, is being featured in the Downtown Urban Arts Festival at Theatre Row on June 22nd, 2022 at 8pm! For more info: https://www.duafnyc.com/theater