Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - Personal » Miguel Piñero: 1946-1988: Playwright, Poet, Actor Biography - Discovery Of Talent, Success As An Actor, A New Audience

Miguel Piñero: 1946-1988: Playwright, Poet, Actor - A New Audience

york city produced film

More than a decade after his death, a new film about Piñero's life has introduced the playwright to another generation. Simply called, Piñero, this biographical film starred actor Benjamin Bratt as Piñero. At just under two hours, Piñero, which was written and directed by Leon Ichas, attempts to capture the essence of the playwright's life, as well as define what motivated his self-destructive personality. Bratt captured Piñero's own difficulty in leaving drugs and alcohol behind as he became more successful. Bratt was so effective as Piñero that several critics refer to this work as the best performance of his career, while at the same time faulting the depressive nature of the film and its lack of imaginative interpretation. What worked best in the film was the way in which Piñero's work was opened up to a new generation. Because so few reviewers can be enthusiastic about the film, they instead focused on Piñero, the man and the writer, and so the audience learned more about Piñero's craft, which in turn led to a renewed interest in his plays. If the film, flawed as entertainment, led viewers back to Piñero's plays, then it might be considered a success.

Miguel Piñero was recognized as one of the most important voices of Latin culture during the 1970s and 1980s. He helped to found the Nuyorican Poet's Café, which showcased new Latin talent, and he continued to work with others just like himself—criminals, former criminals, and aspiring Puerto Rican writers with talent waiting to be nurtured and discovered. At his death in 1988, Piñero was eulogized by admirers and friends in a public memorial service conducted at the Public Theatre in New York City. According to Newsday, "During the memorial service, actors read from five of his works." Other poets from the Nuyorican Poet's Café also read some of their poems. Piñero's ashes were scattered along the streets of New York after the memorial service ended, but it was his contributions as a Puerto Rican poet and dramatist that were remembered in the many obituaries printed after his death. The most notable obituary was written by the man who first brought Piñero's talent to the public's attention. Mel Gussow, the theater critic who first discovered and promoted Piñero's work wrote in The New York Times that Piñero had "a striking, raw talent," but that his work was also marked "by a bitter humor and a lilting kind of street poetry." Gussow stated that Piñero "seemed to cherish his role as an outcast, playing it in real life as well as in movies and on television." At the end of his obituary, Gussow closed with a poignant mention of Piñero's death, which "cuts short what could have been—what should have been—a remarkable career."


Selected writings

Published works


Short Eyes, Hill and Wang, 1975.

La Bodega Sold Dreams, Arte Público Press, 1980.

The Sun Always Shines for the Cool; Midnight Moon at the Greasy Spoon; Eulogy For a Small-Time Thief, Arte Público Press, 1984.

Outrageous One Act Plays, Arte Público Press, 1986.


Produced plays


All Junkies, first produced in New York City, 1973.

Short Eyes, first produced in New York City, 1974.

Sideshow, first produced in New York City, 1975.

The Gun Tower, first produced in New York City, 1976.

The Sun Always Shines For the Cool, first produced in New York City, 1976.

Eulogy For a Small-Time Thief, first produced off-Broadway in New York City, 1977.


Straight From the Ghetto, (with Neil Harris) first produced in New York City, 1978.

Cold Beer, first produced in New York City, 1979.

NuYorican Nights at the Stanton Street Social Club, first produced in New York City, 1980.

Playland Blues, first produced in New York City, 1980.

A Midnight Moon at the Greasy Spoon, first produced in New York City, 1981.


Sources

Periodicals


New Republic, April 20, 1974, p. 20.

Newsday, June 25, 1988, p. 16.

New York Daily News, December 13, 2001, p. 61.

The New York Times, December 3, 1983, p. 26; June 25, 1988, p. 13; July 3, 1988, p. 8.

The Village Voice, January 10, 1974, p. 55; March 28, 1974, p. 68.

The Washington Post, April 11, 1999, p. C01.


—Sheri Elaine Metzger

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