Current Playwrights, Dude Playwrights, Unknown playwrights

Ricardo Soltero-Brown

This week’s playwright is Orlando-based Ricardo Soltero-Brown. His work is vast, prolific and varied.

montage ric
The 9 faces of Ricardo Soltero-Brown.

For example, on the Facebook for playwrights New Play Exchange he has 55 plays available.

But choosing among 55 plays can be a challenge. It’s not Lope de Vega territory, but to use the Bard of Avon as an example, you could end up with A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Two Noble Kinsmen.

[Note: because the scripts analyzed here haven’t been produced, no photos exist, so we’re using photos of the playwright’s produced work, FYI (smiley face)]

I’m happy to have chosen the plays I did. Let’s get started:

The Sun, the Moon & Stars is a fun parody of love stories with different settings.

The first is set in some faux-Olde English world, with a technique slightly reminiscent of the first story of Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask); the use of false archaic English for comedic effect.

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In the emphasis on “wit” it reminds one of George Farquhar’s work.

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Flashback to Farquhar’s work: She said he had an “infinite deal” of wit and I had “more wit than any body” – it must’ve been the greatest day of his life.

For the era, “wit” was a common subject and Soltero-Brown really plays with it.

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Sometimes we watch a play and it is so marvelous that it looks like fun to be a part of – like “I’d like to work on that” – reading this play, it looks like it was fun to write.

And there is even more wit:

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I’m not sure how one unwits oneself, but it sounds fun.

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Okay, so there is a plot here in which one character coaxes a love confession out of the other [a love for a third, unseen character]. The topic turns to sex.

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“A liar as an actor” – I love it.

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The story ends like a play from 1700, too.

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Neat poster for Jealousy, another Soltero-Brown work.

The next third of this play takes place in a drawl-drenched, Southern Gothic hotbed of hotbed-dedness.

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Did you know there’s a site called study.com? Not a dating site.

Famous authors in the Southern Gothic genre include Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and in drama, Tennessee Williams. Though my personal favorite is Carson McCullersReflections in a Golden Eye.

Anyways, let’s see what debauched Southern cooking Soltero-Brown has deep-fried for us today:

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The Southern Patriarch – typified by Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – becomes “Father” here…and he knows better than anyone else.

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The great Cameron Gagne in the aforementioned Jealousy. Photo by AA Gardner.

But Rebecca is rebelling against the ideal of Southern womanhood – she (GASP!) smokes and is friendly with the maid.

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There’s a huge plot point right there.

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Huh. A controlling boyfriend or girlfriend? NO WAY.

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She makes a cameo!

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It’s never too late. Just ask Grandma Moses. But Denise does have good advice to wait things out.

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The Jacket, 2012. Photo by Candace Kaw.

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“Visit his house” sounds fair enough. But there’s a catch…

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That does complicate things. I imagine it kinda looked like this:

Sucks to be Omar. Unless Omar is his friend. The case was solved.

So Sean shows up at Rebecca’s place…

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Father’s dream come true. Wonder if he knows she’s a firebug? So Rebecca had a plan for Sean – naturally. If his house burnt down, then he would need another house. I admire her practical nature.

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Yay, Sean!!!!

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The Jacket, 2012. Photo by Candace Kaw.

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Rebecca sure seems determined.

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Oh. Somehow Sean and Denise have a conversation about Rebecca and it comes with a twist.

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OMG Denise is in love with Rebecca!!!! 

Here are some stills from a 2018 production of Jealousy. Photos by AA Gardner.

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The final story in the trilogy is set in space. A couple of stars are jealous of the sun:

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What a douche.

It gets worse. The Sun’s positive attitude grates on them, too.

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Moon shows up.

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No, not that moonshine.

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But Moon is more on the ball.

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The First Star admits it.

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He’s doing yoga now. Reminds me of I, Claudius –

Oh, by Jove! Which is always to say “by myself

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The Jacket, 2012. Photo by Candace Kaw.

The stars and moon get all existential:

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Great theatre always questions our raison d’être – and this is great theatre.

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Well, there goes Elon Musk and his Space X thing.

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[insert joke about how he’s just trying to get higher here]
The two stars then see a third star being born, which wraps up the play.

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That was fun. But there were still 54 more plays to choose from. I chose a longer one-act entitled Match Made in Hell. 

Basically…it’s the ol’ “sell-yer-soul-to-Beelzebub” story…except our hero Sherman’s got a plan: He likes a woman and thinks selling his soul will somehow result in said woman falling in love with him because women respond really well to Satan making them do stuff.

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Satan’s name is Lucy. Because of course it is. And Lucy’s got a bit of a ‘tude.

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If you ever need to ask someone “What’s wrong with me?” you may get an honest answer.

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I have a feeling she’s using him as her own personal entertainment source.

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The whole “Women like jerks” theory has resulted in numerous self-help articles.

But of course nobody really realizes they’re dating a horrible person when they’re in love because…most people lack self-awareness, which also results in numerous self-help articles.

Here are some stills from Jealousy. Photos by playwright/photographer AA Gardner. From 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Satan/Lucy doesn’t do any wonders for one’s self-esteem. Lucy demands that Sherman describe this mystery/dream woman.

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And sex pops up.

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Enjoy.

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The movie they’re referring to can be found here.

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The Last Seduction, German poster.

It’s nice Satan and Sherman appreciate the same sex scenes in the same movie. They have much in common.

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So Lucy really has no filter…..

Lucy plans to turn Sherman into a philosopher. Because she has an agenda, too.

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They sign a contract and what happens next…will probably be in the sequel.

Here are some stills of another Soltero-Brown play, Jealousy, in a production from 2014. Photos by Kevin Abel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In addition to full-lengths and one-acts, Mr. Soltero-Brown writes quite a few monologues.

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Pictured: A few monologues.

We have special video of one of his monologues, if you can dig it. The monologue is entitled “Miss” and is in response to the shooting in Jonesboro.

Note to foreigners: America has such a strong addiction to high school shootings, that there are actually two Jonesboro shootings, one in Jonesboro, Arkansas in ’98 and one in Jonesboro, Georgia just last year. This is the Georgia one.

The text is here:

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And the video:

Cameron Gagne did a great job acting [recognize her from Jealousy?] and Dustin Burton did a great job filming.
One other noticeable trait in Ricardo’s plays is his use of experimentation. He wrote a play called Woman. I shall post the play in its entirety:
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One word, two letters of dialogue. I don’t know any other playwright doing that.
I know what you’re thinking: what if we translated the entire play into the awesomest languages on Earth? FYI the awesomest languages on Earth are Sesotho, Korean, Betawi and Javanese.
Sesotho, you say? Thank you to actress, activist, refugee, opera singer, Sesotho speaker and all-round wonderful human being Victoria Sethunya.
                                                                                       MOSALI
Emisa.
                    Lumela.
Khutsa.
Meanwhile, in Korean:
                                                                                       여자
중지한다.
                  안녕.
침묵시킨다.
And of course, Betawi (thanks to my Betawi friend Rafif) Hit him up if you’re eager to learn Betawi. He’s like a one-man army, spreading the love of Betawi culture all around the world.
                                                                                    PREMPUAN
Brenti.
              Tabé.
Ndekem.
And in the rich Javanese language (thanks to badass playwright and native Javanese speaker Dhianita Kusuma Pertiwi).
                                                                                    WADON
Meneng.
          Monggo.
Sirep.
“Wadon” can also be used in Betawi, but I thought it would be tedious to use it twice, so I went with “prempuan.”
If anyone is wondering, the worst language in the world is German. I could rewrite the play in German, but I don’t want to give German the satisfaction. Keine Zufriedenheit.
So far, we’ve only talked about Mr. Soltero-Brown’s plays…he’s actually been quite active in the Orlando Theatre scene.  The official bio:
“His plays have been performed and read at Valencia College, Rollins College, University of South Florida, Horizon Theatre Company, Dixon Place, Actor’s Express, by Pipsqueak Collective, RHCR Theatre Company, the Orlando International Fringe Festival and more. He won the Florida Playwrights Competition in 2014, and was a playwright apprentice at Horizon Theatre Company. He has been recommended by Caridad Svich and Gary Garrison. He was published in ‘The Louisville Review’ and ‘The Dionysian’, was interviewed by Performer Stuff, 50 Playwrights Project, Podspell, and Adam Szymkowicz;”
Here’s that Podspell interview.
Here is the video of a short he wrote, Beldam & Gaffer:

 

 

Here he is talking about acting a few years back:

 

 

More links and fun stuff at the end, but first, let’s hear what insights the man himself has about playwriting.
How did you start playwriting?

 

I was writing a screenplay at the time and was told of a play contest, I attempted to write an adaptation and realized I loved dialogue.

What are your influences?

Suzan-Lori Parks, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, etc. I seem to be fascinated by the success and failure of communication.

What is your most memorable production and why?

Jealousy, it worked. I was grateful for it.

What is your least memorable production and why?

Jealousy, it didn’t work. I was grateful for it.

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Pictured: Jealousy poster from 2014. What’s not working? Photo by Kevin Abel.

What’s your funniest theatre story?

During rehearsals for The Jacket we started a run where we replaced every occurrence of the word “jacket” with “penis”. It was too good, really, I had to stop them because we were so close to the run.

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A 2012 production of The Penis um, The Jacket. Photo by Candace Kaw.

What are your writing habits like?

Silence, paper and pen, sometimes a typewriter.

What advice do you have for new playwrights?

Write short plays.

Who are some other writers you feel should get more attention?

Inda Craig-Galván, Nelson Diaz-Marcano, Celine Song, Franky Gonzalez, and Asher Wyndham.

What are common themes in your work?

Sex, gender, politics, language.

What is one thing you wished you knew now, that you didn’t know starting out?

How much shit I was going to write.

Can you please tell us about the development of The Sun, the Moon & Stars?

I believe I came up with the title first and wrote the plays from there. I wanted to write an evening of three one-acts that were thematically linked, The Stars is about loving yourself.

How does one create such a diverse and varied body of work such as you have?

I attempt various styles and genres of plays.

The Sun, the Moon & Stars as well as A Match Made in Hell do a great job parodying established tropes. What advice do you have for writing effective parody?

It’s interesting that you consider some of my plays parody, I appreciate it. I suppose it has something to do with attempting certain styles of plotting…and hopefully turning it on its head.

You identify as Latino/American/Puerto Rican. What are some ways American theatre can become truly welcoming to everyone?

What an astonishing question.

I’m not sure how to answer, but I’ll try. It’s not just the playwrights and the stories we tell, it’s the actors and directors and techies, too. Lately, the plays I’m writing don’t assign gender or race or even ability to the characters. That’s the part I’ve been doing.

What’s a question you’d like to be asked? Go ahead and answer that question.

I’m doing fine.

©2014 kabelphoto
Of course he’s fine, with all that mad playwriting money. Note: that represents about 10 years’ worth of royalties for playwrights (well, the ones on this blog anyways).  Photo by Kevin Abel.

 

Glad he’s doing fine!!! Here are the links!!!

His New Play Exchange page.

The man’s Twitter.

An interview with the awesome folks at 50 Playwrights.

Interview at Performer Stuff, where he has a lot of stuff.

Interview at the cool playwright interview blog.

Review of The Princess of Caspia script

Jealousy at the Orlando Fringe

Review of the same.

Review of an earlier production.

Second review of same.

Anti-gun violence play put on by high schoolers

Dramatic readings by Mr. Soltero-Brown.

Immigration-themed play available for free performance.

Here are all our other playwrights.

 

 

 

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