Hey y’all! So we are super excited to have exclusive interviews with the incoming class of MFA Playwrights who all happen to be chicks! Our final interview in our series is with Cristina Luzarraga, a chick who currently does standup comedy in Chicago and has a taste for the dark humor! Read the interview below to learn more about her!
- Who are some of your artistic influences/artists that do it for you?
Discovering Edward Albee in high school meant discovering that theater can be at once funny and deeply disturbing. I love that emotional tension, and I love how theater—maybe more so than any another narrative art form—allows it to be experienced on a visceral level. Some other darkly comic writers I like to turn to for inspiration are: Joe Orton, John Guare and Martin McDonagh. Also, Caryl Churchill is everything.
2. What got you excited/interested in OU’s program?
I was drawn to OU because of the opportunities it affords for production and collaboration with theater artists across disciplines. Plus, I’m hoping the relative remoteness of Athens, OH will be a boon to my writing output.
3.If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
A sloth. Sloths seem really content.
4.Whats your fave kind of dessert??
Key lime pie
5. At this point in your writing, what types of stories/images are you drawn to?
I’m often attracted to stories that are high-concept. If this bizarre/twisted/impossible thing happened, then what? How would the characters respond? What would the world look like? Some people consider this kind of speculative narrative gimmicky, but I appreciate how it gets the creative juices flowing and facilitates the layering on of subtext and satire.
- How has your standup comedy work informed your playwriting?
Comedy has made me more aware of the immediacy of live theater. Theater, like comedy, functions in the moment. It’s not uncommon to have a captivating moment followed by a dud. In stand-up, a dud is evidenced by a lack of laughter. In theater, it’s more subtle (Is the audience leaning back? Do they seem disengaged? Are they in their heads trying to figure out where the story is going?). I think it helps to imagine a play as a series of moments because it makes the writing less precious and easier to edit and refine.
Now that you are into Cristina, read her writing sample and like her more! Here is a writing sample from Cristina’s short play Hippo Woman:
A dinner table. Seated are SETH, TORY, and IRIS.
So, some members of “Thin Is In”––“Thin Is In” is the gym where I work. Iris here is my favorite client.
I’m serious, she’s a virtuoso at squats.
You’re too modest. A great set of buns right here! Especially for a woman your age.
So, some members of “Thin Is In” are having their first meeting to discuss weight loss, right?The director of the group––that’s me––the director says, “Now, I’d like each of you to give us the facts of your daily routine.” So several fat people speak up, admitting their excesses, and then one of the more obese chicks says, “I eat moderately, I drink moderately, and I exercise frequently.” And I’m like, “Uh, are you sure you don’t have anything else to add?”“Well, yeah” she says, “I lie extensively.”
I just want to thank you again, Seth, for coming tonight. We’re both so happy you could make it. We don’t get many gentleman callers around here.
TORY passes him the main dish.
No thanks, I’m on a cleanse right now. I’ll take some of that though.
TORY passes him the asparagus, which he piles up on his plate. He drinks copious amounts of water.
So Seth, are you seeing anyone?
(speaking with his mouth full)
Not since I pulled my pubic muscle.
Seth, you and Tory have a lot in common.
You have a dog and Tory likes animals
Tory has been volunteering at a shelter, isn’t that right, honey?
It’s part of my therapy. It’s required.
More about Cristina
Cristina Luzarraga is a playwright, comedian and New Jersey native. After graduating from Princeton University, she moved to Chicago to pursue improv, stand-up and theater. She has studied at The Second City, iO and the Chicago Dramatists. Her play Due Unto Others was produced by Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts.