An Interview with NYPR Playwright Andrew Sianez de la O

Andrew Siañez-De La O is a Chicanx playwright, actor, and author from El Paso, Texas. He graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Theatre and Performance and was awarded the school’s Betsy Carpenter Playwriting award for his play Sangre Mía. His collection of short stories, Lo Siento Miguel, was published by Wilde Press, Emerson’s Undergraduate Students for Publishing group and you can find other examples of his prose in online literary magazines such as Concrete, Stork, and The Grief Diaries. He received training as a creative producer from ArtsEmerson where he assistant directed the world premiere of Mala by Melinda Lopez and was invited to attend the 2017 International Latino Theatre Commons Convening in Los Angeles as a representative of his hometown and border community. He is currently a Company One Playwriting Fellow in Boston, MA where he currently lives.

What do you hope audiences come away with from experiencing one of your plays?
One thing I’ve really wanted to focus on, are people who live half lives. The ones who are maybe like me, Mexican-American, who know when to turn off certain parts of themselves depending on where they are. I want anyone who has half lives to be able to see my plays and feel a little closer to being whole. Whether that’s marrying cultures or worlds or ideas.

Who are some current playwrights we should know about?
Some close personal friends like Andrew Clark, Marge Buckley, MJ Halberstadt, Francisca Da Silveira, and some creatives who I have met with and have inspired me like Melinda Lopez, Georgina Escobar, and Marisela Treviño lopez, and of course the five other amazing playwrights being recognized through NYPR.

What do you look for in a collaborator/ director?
I think a sense of community is the best place to start. It’s not only about a close personal relationship, but also a strong sense of the intended audience. Collaborating shouldn’t just be about the words, but also the intended impact and viewers. Community is a very important piece of the puzzle for me.

What are some of your artistic goals? Long or short term?
As well as being able to continue writing stories for and about my community, I want to be able to promote that work. I want to help other write and produce and bring their stories to life. I don’t know what shape that will take, but I know that it’s going to be the driving force behind the decisions I make in my career.

Favorite movies? t.v. shows? books? video games?
TV: The Office, Battlestar Galactica. Movies: Coco, Spirited Away, All things Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Video Games: The Witcher, The Last of Us (Real talk, video games is an amazing medium for interactive story telling that I desperately want to break into).

What inspired you to write the play for NYPR?
This used to be a dystopian play ala 1984. Then it was on Mars and was about escaping reality. And then it was simply about kids. About growing up. About ghost stories and the ones that are meant to scare us and the ones that are meant to warn us. I think I wrote it knowing that in this highly politicized time period I’m not able to be around my own younger siblings. They’re back home and I’m not there to protect them in the ways that I wish I could. I think that’s where this play comes from.

Did you listen to specific music while writing the play? If so, what was it?
A lot of Juan Gabriel, to be honest.

What first drew you to the theater?
I was an actor first and I think it was the ability to escape who I was, just for a bit. I could shed my reality and try on another. Now I write because the world of theatre should never stop growing and, if I can be a part of making theatre more accessible and diverse, then I want to do that.

What is one particularly inspiring thing you’ve learned/experienced in theater/writing? Either in a show/class/workshop/rehearsal/from another person?
I had the pleasure of meeting Thaddeus Phillips while working as a Creative Producer with ArtsEmerson in Boston. Every time I met him I was reminded not only of the importance of trusting your instincts, but also never feeling bound by the page. He showed me just how magical writing and creating can be. If you aren’t familiar with his work I’d definitely look into him. Everything of his that I’ve seen has just shaken me to my core and has led me in whole new directions.