Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Residency Site: Plainfield VT
Rogelio is the winner of the first ever Mid-Career Fellowship at the Lark Theater Company. He has just been commissioned by the Denver Center to write a new play about Reagan and the 1980s. Ping Pong, his play about Nixon, Mao, and the hippie that brought the two together, is part of this season’s Public Studio series at The Public. His new play, Born in East Berlin, will be given a workshop at the Atlantic in October. Some of Rogelio’s plays include Wanamaker’s Pursuit (Arden Theater), When Tang Met Laika (Sloan Grant/ Denver Center/ Perry Mansfield), All Eyes and Ears (INTAR at Theater Row), Fizz (NEA/ TCG Grant/ Besch Solinger Productions at the Ohio Theatre; New Theater Miami), Learning Curve (Smith and Krauss New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2005/ Besch Solinger Productions at Theater Row), I Regret She’s Made of Sugar (winner of the 2001 Princess Grace Award), Arrivals and Departures (Summer Play Festival), Union City (E.S.T., winner of the James Hammerstein Award), and Displaced (Marin Theater Co.). In addition, Rogelio’s work has been developed and presented at the Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, the Magic Theater, and Ojai Theater Company.
MFA in Playwriting, Columbia University School of the Arts
BA in English and Textual Studies; Television, Radio, and Film / English and Textual Studies, Syracuse University
Areas of Expertise
Dramatic Writing, TV Writing, Screenwriting, Fiction
Ping Pong (Public Studio at the Public Theater) 2015
Wanamaker’s Pursuit (Arden Theater Co.) 2011
When Tang Met Laika (Denver Center) 2010
All Eyes And Ears (INTAR at Theater Row) 2008
Fizz (Besch Solinger Productions at the Ohio Theatre SOHO; New Theater Miami) 2007
Displaced (Marin Theater Company) 2006
Learning Curve (Besch Solinger Productions) 2005
Union City, New Jersey, Where Are you? (Ensemble Studio Theater) 2002
Arrivals and Departures (Oye Repertory. Miami) 2002
Arrivals and Departures (Summer Play Festival at Theater Row) 2001
In 1980, I arrived in this country from Cuba. As I was leaving the boat, I was given a can of Coca-Cola. I tried to open it but I couldn’t figure out how to work the tab. Around me, dehydrated Cubans were all trying to figure out how to open these cans. That vision stayed with me for years. Twenty-five years later I wrote a play called Fizzabout Roberto Goizueta, the head of Coke during the New Coke disaster and a Cuban immigrant himself. I realized that to tell Roberto’s story I didn’t have to look far. Roberto’s story is my story. It’s the story of finding your piece of the American dream and not being able to completely understand it or experience it.
Writing a play or a film is a way of giving shape to your past — those memories that refuse to go away. For me, writing begins with connecting to your past, to who you were. I love writing exercises because they help you discover your obsessions and interests. Whenever I found myself lost in the writing of Fizz, I’d connect to the way the ten year old boy in me saw the irrational world that I had suddenly become part of. I found that my view of that world was not at all different from the way Roberto saw the world during the lowest point in his life.
Having lived a life with its share of randomness, I encourage writers to introduce a little more randomness into their work. I help them infuse their work with energy, a sense of play and naughtiness. I encourage writers to make decisions and not to brood. I am a big believer in the bold theatrical moment — the angel crashing through the ceiling, the frogs falling from the sky, or a group of Italian men following Monica Vitti around a plaza. Ultimately, I respond to writers who have a great curiosity about life and who approach the work with questions rather than answers.
I received my MFA from Columbia University where I studied with Romulus Linney, Eduardo Machado, and Anne Bogart. My play Illuminating Veronica was workshopped at the Public Theater and produced at the Pacific Playwright’s Project at South Coast Repertory. The play will be published later this year by Broadway Play Publishing. Learning Curve was produced Off-Broadway on Theater Row. It was published in an anthology of the best plays of 2005. Arrivals and Departures was produced at the Summer Play Festival on Theater Row. Displaced was produced at the Marin Theater Company. While at New Dramatists, I was commissioned to write my first film, Journey to Havana. I have just finished adapting my play Fizz for the screen. With my new play, When Tang met Laika (Denver Center Theater Commission), I am exploring the relationship between the Russian and the American space programs and their efforts to build an International Space Station. I am also in the process of finishing a commission for the Atlantic Theater Company about present day Cuba and the mystery of an invisible Castro. My play, Will in Space, about the effect that Pluto’s demotion has on a couple is being developed at Primary Stages. I am the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including a Princess Grace Award and a James Hammerstein Award for my play Union City, which was produced at EST with Rosie Perez.
- DisplacedMarin Theater Company2006
- FizzOhio Theater2006
- Learning CurveTheater Row2005
- Union CityEST2002
- Arrivals and DeparturesOyo Repertory2000
- Illuminating VeronicaSouth Coast Repertory1999