Notable Quotable: Migdalia Cruz on the Magic of Theater

By Paulette Beete
Woman with long wavy hair and glasses

Playwright Migdalia Cruz. Photo by Deborah Lopez

"When theater is done well, it is magical because it’s making alive things that aren’t alive. It’s bringing you characters that perhaps aren’t real. It’s bringing you into places perhaps you've never been. All of that is magic. In the best-case scenario, it’s bringing you on a trip in your head, someplace where you get totally involved, but also a place where you see yourself. It bridges someplace specifically new with someplace personal and internal, making the experience real and relatable. To me that’s magic because it makes the person in the audience feel like they're part of the production, and they experience the characters’ love and pain and joy. It's something that they go home and think about. Maybe it’s not easy to swallow and not easily understandable, but you have to think about it and discuss it and then digest it for yourself to find true understanding. To me, the experience of magic is when you go to the theater and you feel like you’ve been taken someplace and it’s a place that’s real and a place that makes you feel something important and human inside." — Migdalia Cruz

Throughout her career as a playwright, Migdalia Cruz has written over 60 plays, musicals, and operas, traveled the world, met the Dalai Lama, and earned prestigious awards such as the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays Award, the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award, and two NEA Playwriting Fellowships. But despite her success, she has always felt it critical to remember that she was once a girl who grew up poor in the Bronx. Her childhood, sometimes laced with neighborhood violence, remains a powerful force in her work, as does her Nuyorican identity. Here's our complete interview with Cruz.

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