Andrew Sianez-De La O ’17 entered Emerson as a BFA Acting major and left a playwright. Now, just eight months after graduating, he has two plays being developed through two fellowships, one on each coast.
Sianez-De La O was named one of three playwriting Fellows with Boston’s Company One Theatre, and one of six remote residents with the Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles.
“I like that I can write characters that resemble me and people from my life,” Sianez-De La O said of his turn toward writing.
Sangre Mía (“Blood of Mine”), Sianez-De La O’s play about an Iraq War veteran returning to his hometown of El Paso, Texas to work as an immigration agent, is a good case in point. Loosely based on his stepfather’s experience, his main character wrestles with his new job, where he is forced to deny immigrants like himself entry to the country he has just spent years defending.
C1 Playlab, Company One’s incubator, offers a Fellowship program for playwrights with completed work that “needs that extra help, that extra push,” to get it ready for performance, Sianez-De La O said. Through the program, Company One looks to “amplify” diverse emerging voices.
Fellows have access to C1 dramaturgs who work with them one-on-one to develop their scripts.
One of the things Sianez-De La O is hoping to work on through the Fellowship is “to really refine the way [I] share immigration law without coming across as spoon feeding it, and the way that impacts a community of people,” he said.
Through the Young Playwrights Lab at Echo Theater, Sianez-De La O has been paired Daria Polatin, author of the novel Devil in Ohio, writer of the play Palmyra, and writer/producer of the Amazon series Jack Ryan, starring John Krasinski.
With Polatin’s mentorship, he’s writing a new science fiction play, Rain on Mars (Hecho a Mano), which also deals with immigration in its own way. The play is about two of the first astronauts to colonize Mars.
“It’s dealing with being separated from home while trying to create a new home, a new bastion for mankind, and I don’t know where it’s going, but it’s definitely exciting,” he said.
Sianez-De La O said the C1 group in Boston is very diverse, and he’s been having conversations with another Latino playwright in the program about “what sort of narrative we want to see in the world.”
While there has been some improvement in getting Latinx voices on the stage, Sianez-De La O said he and his colleague would like to help broaden the conversations beyond just immigrant and border stories – as important as those are today – to encompass the whole Latinx experience.
“Any play I write is going to be a Latino work, because it’s written by me,” Sianez-De La O said. “That’s something that takes a lot of weight off my shoulders, in a way.”
While he’s been focused on playwriting since graduation, Sianez-De La O said he hasn’t turned his back on his first love, acting.
But he also has a full-time job as an administrative coordinator at Northeastern University, so he’s still learning how to manage his creative and professional lives and find the right formula.
“It’s always tough to juggle what pays the bills the what feeds you creatively,” he said. “I’m hoping down the line, those two become a little closer, but right now, it’s a comfortable balance.”