Luis Santeiro's Praying With The Enemy has captured the 1999 National Hispanic Playwriting Award, given by the Arizona Theatre Company in association with Centro Cultural Mexicano de Phoenix. The prize, now in its fifth year, comes with a $1,000 check.
Santeiro is best known for penning the comedies Our Lady of the Tortilla and The Lady From Havana, as well as the musical Barrio Babies. He's been a writer for TV's "Sesame Street" since 1978.
Praying With The Enemy centers on the Pope's 1998 visit to Havana, both the media frenzy attending the visit and one woman's bittersweet return to her childhood home.
Caridad Svich's Prodigal Kiss took first runner-up honors in the NHP Awards, with Richard Talavera's Rampage II: The Last Taboo and Silviana Wood's Una vez en el barrio de suenos... [sic] taking third and fourth place in the contest.
Previous NHP winners include Luis Alfaro's Straight as a Line (1998), which was soon thereafter staged at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Guillermo Reyes' A Southern Christmas (1997) and Carla Morton's La Malinche (1995). The National Hispanic Playwriting Award is essentially just a cash prize and not connected to a production. However, ATC spokesperson Michael Rennie told Playbill On-Line, "Often the plays get picked up by other companies after they've won the award. Or, often they've come to us because they've previously had a reading or staged reading." Entrants to the competition must be previously unproduced and unpublished plays (at least 50 minutes in length) by a Latino writer on any subject.
-- By David Lefkowitz