Former Visiting Writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes will return to campus in the fall of 2014 as the new Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater for three academic years.
Hudes most recently wrote three plays collectively titled “The Elliot Cycle,” the second of which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Hudes also wrote the book for the musical “In the Heights,” which won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. She is also a United States Artists Fontanals Fellow, a Joyce Fellow at the Goodman Theatre, and a Fellow at the Sundance Theater Institute, among other honors. Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared April 27, 2013 to be “Quiara Hudes Day” in Chicago.
In a press release in The Wesleyan Connection, Hudes described her enthusiasm at the prospect of returning to teach at the University.
“What a thrill to bring all I’ve learned about process, storytelling, and structure to the next generation of young writers,” Hudes told The Wesleyan Connection. “There is a palpable curiosity among the
Wesleyan student body, along with a willingness to do the hard work that marries creativity and craft. I’m honored and only slightly giddy with the possibilities.”
Associate Professor of Theater Claudia Nascimento, an instrumental faculty member in Hudes’ hire, expressed her excitement about Hudes’ return and added that she looks forward to seeing what Hudes will bring to playwriting at the University.
“The goal that we all share…is to create at Wesleyan the most vibrant undergraduate playwriting program in the country,” Nascimento wrote in an email to The Argus. “[…]A liberal arts environment[…]is perfect to groom the next generation of theater artists. The Theater Department has great faculty in acting, design, directing, and theory; Quiara’s presence leading the playwriting program is key to the growth of the performing arts on campus.”
Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence Amy Bloom commented on Hudes’ return to campus. Bloom and other creative writing professors will work closely with Hudes, who will be a professor in both the Writing Program and the Theater Department.
“Quiara Alegría Hudes’ arrival marks exactly the kind of faculty and innovative inter-disciplinary programming we are so glad to have here at Shapiro,” Bloom wrote in an email to The Argus.
Dean of the Arts and Humanities Andrew Curran described Hudes’ excitement at her return to the University.
“She loves teaching,” Curran said. “She loves being in contact with the students. She wrote me recently she was so excited to come here and really work with the students and not just teach, but [to] see the fruit of her labor in the next generation. So she’s really trying to put a mark on this playwright program we have here.”
Curran elaborated on Hudes’ new role working both in the Theater Department and the Writing Program.
“Her classes will be cross-listed both with Shapiro, the Writing Certificate, and the Theater Department,” Curran said. “She’ll be running workshops and doing readings, bringing in some people here at the Shapiro Center. She’ll also be teaching Advanced Playwriting and whatever they decide they want her to teach over in the Theater Department.”
Nascimento said she is excited for Hudes’ presence on campus to help add to the University’s already stellar Theater Department.
“The Theater Department has great faculty in acting, design, directing, and theory; Quiara’s presence leading the playwriting program is key to the growth of the performing arts on campus,” Nascimento wrote.
Curran had a similarly positive view regarding the University’s offerings.
“We hire excellent writers,” Curran said. “Wesleyan is very well-known for writing. An area of excellence, an area of strength and we’re trying to build on that with some interesting people….And hiring Quiara fits into this whole program of not necessarily going for the rockstar, but integrating people who are very accomplished into our pre-existing programs.”
Bloom spoke about the decision to hire Hudes.
“This is exactly the kind of cross-pollination that Shapiro Center supports across the campus, from haiku to a graphic novel to a pop-up children’s book to a collection of personal essays—anything a writer can think of,” Bloom said in The Wesleyan Connection. “I’m a huge fan of Quiara Alegria Hudes’s work and delighted that she’ll be at Wesleyan.”
Nascimento already has plans for Hudes’ first semester at the University.
“We are now planning to stage ‘In The Heights’ in the fall 2014—I will direct, Quiara will be here, and [Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda] will come to auditions/call backs, maybe rehearsals,” Nascimento wrote. “It is all coming together!”
Additional reporting by News Editor Tess Morgan.