Luis Alfaro

Associate Professor of Dramatic Writing

  • Luis Alfaro


Luis Alfaro is an associate professor of dramatic writing at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He has been working in theatre, performance, poetry and journalism since the early 1980s. A multi-disciplined artist, he is also a director, curator, producer, educator and community organizer.

A Chicano born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, Alfaro is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant,” awarded to people who have demonstrated expertise and exceptional creativity in their respective fields.

Alfaro spent over two decades in the Los Angeles poetry community, and toured North and Latin America as a Performance Artist for over 10 years.

An anthology of his plays, The Greek Plays of Luis Alfaro, will be released in September by Methuen Drama/Bloomsbury Press, and licensed by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

He currently holds commissions with Denver Center, Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Repertory and Victory Gardens Theatre.

He is currently member of the artist collective at Center Theatre Group.

He is the first playwright-in-residence in the 90-year history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest repertory company in the United States, serving for six seasons (2013-19) through the generous support of the Andrew S. Mellon Foundation. His work at OSF included curating a yearly writer’s retreat (Brown Swan Lab), yearly conference (Latino Play Project) and working as a member of the artistic staff.

Alfaro was a member of the Playwright’s Ensemble at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre (2013-2020).

He has been associated with the Ojai Playwrights Conference since 2002, this year returns as a resident artist and producer of the festival.

In 2018, he was awarded the PEN/America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre Award for a Master American Dramatist; the United States Artists Fellowship, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Foundation; the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship and the Annenberg Artist-in-Residence for the city of Santa Monica.

He is also a Joyce Foundation Fellow. Alfaro is the only playwright to have received two Kennedy Center ‘Fund for New American Play’ awards in the same year.

In 2019, his adaptation of the Greek myth of Medea, Mojada, was produced off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in New York City, and received an extended run. In 2017, Oedipus el Rey, was part of the 50th anniversary season off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in New York City with a sold-out run, extended three times, and a Critic’s Pick of the New York Times.

His plays have been seen throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and include Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (Portland Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Getty Villa-Malibu [Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Los Angeles Ovation Award, Best Play], Victory Gardens Theatre–Chicago [Jefferson Award, Best New Play], and upcoming at Portland Center Stage); St. Jude (Victory Gardens Theatre-Chicago, Under The Radar West @ Kirk Douglas Theatre-Los Angeles, South Coast Repertory-Costa Mesa); Delano (Magic Theatre-San Francisco); Painting in Red (Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles); Alleluia the Road (Campo Santo/California Shakespeare-San Francisco); Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga (Lewis Family Playhouse-Rancho Cucamonga); Bruja (Magic Theatre-San Francisco, Borderlands Theatre-Tucson); Oedipus el Rey (Getty Villa-Malibu, Magic Theater-San Francisco [Glickman Prize, Bay Area Theatre Critics Award], Boston Court Theatre-Pasadena [L.A. Weekly Award, Adaptation], Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company-Washington DC, Borderlands Theatre-Tucson, Pangea Theatre-Minneapolis, Miracle Theatre Group-Portland, Victory Gardens Theatre-Chicago [Best of the Year: Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader], eSe Teatro-Seattle, Dallas Theatre Center, San Diego Repertory); Hero (Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles, Teatro Vision-San Jose); Electricidad (Goodman Theater-Chicago, Mark Taper Forum-Los Angeles [Published-American Theatre Magazine, Backstage Garland Award], Teatro Vision-San Jose, Sacramento Theatre Company, San Pedro Playhouse-San Antonio, Teatro Nuevo Mexico-Albuquerque, Pacifica Spindrift Players, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts-Los Angeles, Artes de la Rosa-Fort Worth, Teatro Vagon-San Francisco, Teatro Espejo-Sacramento; 32 productions); Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Teatro Vista-Chicago, Synchronicity-Atlanta, Hartford Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Body of Faith (Cornerstone Theater Company-Los Angeles [PEN Center Award for Drama]); Straight as a Line (Goodman Theatre-Chicago, 3-Legged Race-Minneapolis, Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles, Primary Stages-New York, National Theatre of Romania [two-year run], Edinburgh Festival-Scotland); Bitter Homes and Gardens (Latino Chicago, Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles); Ladybird (La Jolla Playhouse-POP Tour); Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman and Other Super Hero Girls, Like Me (Smithsonian Museum, The Kennedy Center, Actors’ Gang-Los Angeles, Coterie Theatre-Kansas City, Mark Taper Forum-Los Angeles, East L.A. Repertory, Working Classroom-Albuquerque).

His solo performance work has been seen throughout the U.S., England and Mexico, including the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, The Getty Center, Boston Center for the Arts, The Goodman Theatre, Hirshorn Museum at the Smithsonian, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and X-Teresa Performance Space in Mexico City.

Alfaro was a resident artist at the Mark Taper Forum for 10 years. He served as director of new play development, where he produced and developed over 150 new plays in the Taper Too, New Work Festival and Next Step seasons as well as managed the laboratory work of the company.

He has taught throughout the country and is now an associate professor with tenure in the MFA Dramatic Writing Program at the University of Southern California (USC). Previously, he taught at California Institute of the Arts (Cal-Arts) and in the Writers Program at UCLA Extension.

He has an Emmy-nominated short film, Chicanismo [Best Experimental Film, San Antonio CineFestival, Best Short, CineAccion San Francisco] and an award-winning recording, down town, on SST/New Alliance Records [Best Spoken-Word Release, National Association of Independent Record Distributors].

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