Based on a True Story
What to throw out and what to keep? This is a question all writers face when working on plays based on real events. In this master class, I will walk you through my own process, share an exercise or two, and reveal some of the many tips and tricks I use to stop a play from becoming just a simple historical lesson.
Rogelio Martinez is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been workshopped and produced in theaters across the country and abroad. Martinez was born in Sancti-Spiritus, Cuba and came to this country on the Mariel boatlift in 1980. His Cuba Trilogy (Illuminating Veronica, Arrivals and Departures, and All Eyes and Ears) are published by Broadway Play Publishing. He has just returned from Germany where a workshop of his play, Born In East Berlin, was performed at the Stasi Museum, Berlin in both English and German. The play had its world premiere at the San Francisco Playhouse in February. He teaches graduate level playwriting at Columbia University and Goddard College. He teaches undergraduate playwriting at NYU.
Martinez’s play, Blind Date, was produced at the Goodman Theatre under the direction of Tony nominee Robert Falls. The play starred Tony Award winning actress Deanna Dunagan as Nancy Reagan. Her performance received a Joseph Jefferson Award nomination. Blind Date was awarded an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. This is the second time his work has received an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Blind Date was one of only two plays awarded a Citation of Excellence by the Laurents / Hatcher Foundation.
Martinez is a recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Princess Grace Award, and a Mid-Career Fellowship at the Lark Theater Company. After being awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Science and Technology Initiative Grant by the Denver Center, Martinez went on to write When Tang Met Laika, a post Cold War space exploration play; which was subsequently produced by the Denver Center. This inspired Martinez to bring the Cold War itself on stage and write a three play cycle exploring the time period.
The first play in his Cold War trilogy is Ping Pong. The play is about U.S.-Chinese relations during the Nixon administration. It was presented at the Public Theatre as part of their Public Studio program and later published by Broadway Play Publishing. Born in East Berlin, the second play, tackled the impact a Springsteen concert had on East Germans just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The play was workshopped at the Atlantic Theater Company and has since been translated into Hungarian, Romanian, and German. The trilogy’s conclusion is Blind Date. It was originally commissioned by the Denver Center Theater Company.
Martinez has been workshopped and commissioned by various theaters across the country including the Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, Arden Theater, Asolo Repertory, and Ojai Theater Company, and many more. His plays include Illuminating Veronica, Arrivals and Departures, and All Eyes and Ears (all published by Broadway Play Publishing). His newest play is Come As You Are, a play with music. The play was commissioned by Shadowcatcher Productions and has received several developmental workshops.