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Nilo Cruz
Nilo Cruz


NYS Writers Institute, November 17, 2008
4:15 p.m. Discussion | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Nilo Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, recipient of a 2004 Tony nomination for Best Play for “Anna in the Tropics,” will discuss his work in an informal Q&A on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 4:15 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and Capital Repertory Theatre, and are free and open to the public.


Nilo Cruz,
Cuban-American playwright, received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2002 play, “Anna in the Tropics.” Set during the Great Depression, the play tells the story of Cuban immigrants who have come to Florida to work as cigar-makers. As in their native land, the workers are edified and entertained as they work by a “lector,” a reader of literature. When a new lector chooses to read Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” life begins to imitate art, and the factory floor becomes rife with love affairs, petty jealousies and acts of vengeance.

The play made its Broadway debut with Jimmy Smits in the lead role, and received a 2004 Tony nomination for Best Play. The “Miami Herald” reviewer said, “The words of Nilo Cruz waft from a stage like a scented breeze, they sparkle and prickle and swirl....” Desmond Ryan of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” called the play “exquisitely written and imaginatively crafted… at once moving and magical.”

Several circumstances are noteworthy about Cruz’s Pulitzer win. He is the first and only Latin American ever to receive the Pulitzer for playwriting. He is also the first winner not to have a longstanding prior association with the Broadway theater scene. Finally, “Anna in the Tropics” was selected by a panel of judges who had never seen the play performed (it won on the strength of its script alone).

Cruz was born in Matanzas, Cuba. During his early childhood, his father served out a prison sentence for attempting to flee the country. When Cruz was nine, his family emigrated to the United States, making their home in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. Cruz first became involved in theater in the 1980s as an actor. In 1988 he directed “Mud” by Maria Irene Fornés, the only other Latin American ever nominated for a playwriting Pulitzer.

Cruz’s other plays include “The Beauty of the Father” (2006), “Lorca in a Green Dress” (2003), “Two Sisters and a Piano” (1998), and “Night Train to Bolina” (1995).

Set in a seaside village in Spain, “The Beauty of the Father” is the story of a gay Spanish artist and his estranged American-born daughter, both of whom happen to be in love with the same man, a young Moroccan perfume-seller. The “New Yorker” reviewer said, “Cruz conducts arias with his pen. He is a writer of ideas, who fills the stage with a kind of lush dramatic literature . . . ‘Beauty of the Father’ brings to mind the playwright Maria Irene Fornes. Like his artistic forebear, Cruz recognizes the magic in the everyday. And he has found an astonishing language with which to describe it.”
The afternoon event is cosponsored by Capital Repertory Theatre.

NOTE: Nilo Cruz’s play “Anna in the Tropics” will be performed at Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl Street, Albany, October 31 – November 23. On Monday evening, November 17, Cruz will also speak at a benefit for Capital Rep. For ticket information call 518-445-7469 or go online at www.capitalrep.org.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.