Senior thesis: Rosales transforms his immigrant experience on page and stage

Senior thesis: Rosales transforms his immigrant experience on page and stage


EDWIN ROSALES: My
definition of home is really being with people
that I love and that inspire me, and those are my friends, my
professors, my playwriting classes, my theater classes. Have really allowed
me to tell the stories that I feel need to
be told about being a minority on this
campus, in this country, about being an immigrant,
about feeling out of place, about searching, about
figuring out identity. My name is Edwin Rosales. I’m an English major
earning certificates in creative writing, theater,
and Latin American studies. I’m originally from
Guatemala, but I currently live in Norwalk, Connecticut. I’m writing two
theses, a collection of short stories for
my creative writing and Latin American studies
certificate and then a brand new play that’s being produced
by the Lewis Center for my theater certificate. I have four advisers
on my two theses, Jhumpa Lahiri is my English
and creative writing thesis adviser. Bob Sandberg is my playwrighting
thesis adviser. Suzy Agins is a faculty
director on my play, and Brian Herrera
is a faculty adviser on casting and dramaturgy
for the play. The big question
at the end, which is what want to leave
the audience with. BRIAN HERRERA: And what do you
need to give your collaborators to get to that — EDWIN ROSALES: Right. BRIAN HERRERA: I
started hearing stories about a young man who was
interested in writing plays. And so we talked, and Edwin and
I — he’s never been in a class I’ve taught, but we built
a relationship, mostly in conversation with him as a
writer who understands himself as a Latino writer, but doesn’t
have a lot of role models on campus. And the idea of what is if
he wants to write a Latino play, what is a Latino play? And so that’s sort of how we
first came together was talking about the
contemporary realities of Latino theater. EDWIN ROSALES: These two theses
wouldn’t have been possible without the many
opportunities that Princeton gave me to be able to write both
the collection of short stories and the new play. I was able to go to Guatemala
twice during my Princeton career to do research. I had a reading of my new play
with Equity Latino actors. I had a reading of my
collection of short stories at Labyrinth Books,
a local bookstore, and I’m ending my senior year
with a fully staged production of my new play “Spring on Fire.” ACTRESS: Can you hear me? My voice — EDWIN ROSALES: My
play, “Spring on Fire,” is based on stories from
the Guatemalan civil war. It follows a Maya family living
in the highlands in Guatemala, a pair of Guatemalan
soldiers from the capital who come to the village to carry
out a massacre, and the spirits and the gods who guide
them on their journeys throughout the play. “We haven’t been able to find
them since the night he left, and we’re only looking
because we have to. If it wasn’t for the notice
that came in the mail, we would have just let
him be, let him be, but now we need him –” My collection of short stories
“The Art of Stones,” is inspired by my
own family’s story. The characters in the collection
emigrate from Guatemala to the United
States, but struggle to stay together as a
family as they discover that the father has developed
a drug and alcohol addiction problem in the new country. “…When you last
kissed me there, and I thought I miss him. We pulled up to a
parking spot right in front of the
restaurant, and thank God the restaurant had big windows. Who knows if this story would
be different without them. It was through these
windows that we could see him sitting at the
bar, even before my mother –” I was scared to
write the two theses. I was scared of
finally owning my story and owning what
I’ve gone through. The two theses with the
help of all my advisers was an amazing challenge
to understand myself better through my country’s history and
also just through my own family’s story. I’m leaving Princeton with
these two great projects that I’m still
working on that I’m going to take years to
finish, if I ever do. But I feel more confident than
ever in telling my own story. The arts here
really empowered me, and I am leaving Princeton a
different Edwin than I came in. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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