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Dolores Prida: 1943—: Playwright, Journalist, Poet

Found A Bicultural Voice

During these years Prida continued to devote time to creative writing. In the 1960s she concentrated on poetry, and became one of the young Hispanic poets of the Nueva Sangre (New Blood) movement. In the 1970s she decided to try her hand at writing plays. In 1976 she joined a collective theater group in New York's Lower East Side called Teatro Popular. There was no theater community to speak of in Prida's small hometown; theater was something that only wealthy people in large cities attended. She had never seen a live play until she came to New York. Teatro Popular gave her an understanding of the art of writing plays, and it also allowed her to see theater as an art form that could be accessible to people from all backgrounds. She told Repertorio.org, "I didn't write a play until I had been involved with other things: doing the props, doing the lights out of tomato cans, running the music cues." She made her debut as a playwright in New York in 1977 with the play Beautiful Señoritas. Written in English and Spanish, Beautiful Señoritas explores the issue of feminine stereotypes, especially within the Hispanic community. In the work Prida was able to tackle important social issues such as the relationship between women and the Catholic Church, but she did so using humor and satire. The play won critical acclaim and was performed across the United States. In 1980 it was performed at the National Organization for Women's annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.

In the next few years, Prida wrote more plays, including the 1979 musical Beggar's Soap Opera (based loosely on Bertold Brecht's Threepenny Opera) and La Era Latina (co-authored with Victor Fragoso) in 1981. She also wrote Coser y Cantar, a play that focuses on a Hispanic woman living in the United States and how she attempts to deal with living in two very different worlds. (Coser y cantar—literally "sewing and sing-ing"—is a Spanish idiom meaning "child's play.") Subtitled "A One-Act Bilingual Fantasy for Two Women," the play has two characters, She, who primarily speaks English throughout the play, and Ella, who primarily speaks Spanish. It becomes clear to viewers that She and Ella are not actually two separate characters, but are the two sides of one woman. Throughout the play these two sides of the same woman argue, each trying to gain control over the other. In the end, they come to the realization that the separate elements complement each other. While She and Ella will never be "one" person, the two sides they represent make for a strong (if somewhat unsettled) individual.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Prida continued to write plays. These included Pantallas, Botánica, and Hola Ola!, which was performed as a musical. Much of her work was written for the experimental theater Duo in New York, but she also wrote for groups such as the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. Prida also continued to work as a journalist, with her work appearing in numerous publications. At times she also worked as an editor and a speechwriter. She also taught and lectured on writing at a number of colleges and universities, and became a contributing editor for Latina magazine, which was launched in 1996.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalDolores Prida: 1943—: Playwright, Journalist, Poet Biography - Early Career: From Baking To Writing, Found A Bicultural Voice, An Unusual Contest