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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.

When theater-goers think of contemporary playwrights of color, they might think first of Luis Valdez or perhaps August Wilson. These men, who achieved significant reputations as playwrights, became writers in very conventional ways, having first studied drama, as did Valdez, or having evolved from poet to dramatist, as did Wilson. Both Valdez and Wilson saw theater as a means to express the lack of equality and social justice that each writer had noted about his own people. For Miguel Piñero however, the journey to playwright was more complex. His career as a playwright began in New York's Ossining Correctional Facility (Sing Sing), where Piñero was serving a sentence for armed robbery. It was his reaction to events witnessed while in prison that provided the impetus for Piñero to find his creative voice.

Miguel Piñero was born in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, in 1946. The son of Adelina Piñero and Miguel Angel Gómez, Miguel Piñero emigrated to the United States with his parents and brothers and sisters. The extended family settled into Manhattan's Lower East Side. After his father deserted the family, the eight-year-old Piñero, his mother, and siblings, were all forced to live on the streets for a short period of time. In the period following, Piñero became involved with crime and drugs. As a result, Piñero achieved only a seventh grade education before being incarcerated for the first time at age 13. Eventually, he was sent to juvenile detention centers several times, before finally being sent to prison for armed robbery and drug possession. By the time he was 24, Piñero was serving his third sentence in the New York State prison system. It was at this time that Piñero's life underwent a dramatic change.

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