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Summer Reading List from the Artistic Staff Inspired by the 2019-20 Season!

Rob Melose







Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, translation by Edith Grossman
Before experiencing Quixote Nuevo, Octavio Solis’ modern riff on the adventures of self-made knight errant Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza, explore the original in this masterful translation by Edith Grossman.  It is fun to know what the original events are before they were adapted to the Mexico-Texas border by Octavio. Also, Jorge Luis Borges wrote the most beautiful half page about Don Quixote here.

Retablos: Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border by Octavio Solis
This past fall, Quixote Nuevo author Octavio Solis published a book of short stories about his childhood growing up in El Paso. I’ve known Octavio for twenty years and his playful style is what makes his writing so wonderful. Reading this book will be a great introduction to his work and the setting of Quixote Nuevo. Octavio was also the cultural consultant for Disney’s “Coco” so you might get a sense of him there too!

1984 by George Orwell
A note from Rob: In order to fully appreciate the creative brilliance of Michael Gene Sullivan’s highly theatrical adaptation of the modern classic 1984, I propose revisiting Orwell’s original dystopian novel in all its cautionary glory.

Bonus! …a movie! The Fall directed by Tarsem Singh
While Tarsem Singh’s 2006 film The Fall may appear to have very little to do with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, the dramatic device at the center of my take on the Bard’s late romance is influenced by a core conceit in Singh’s film. The Fall has been a source of inspiration and clarity in early discussions with the creative team behind our first production of the 2019-20 Season.

Brandon Weinbrenner

Brandon Weinbrenner RECOMMENDS






100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl 
Playwrights are living breathing people, just like you and I. In anticipation of directing Dead Man’s Cell Phone next season, I met its author in New York earlier this year and I want you to have the pleasure of meeting her, too! Get acquainted with one of the most exciting and beloved living American playwrights through this candid collection of personal essays about umbrellas and sword fights, parades and dogs, fire alarms, children, and theatre.

Liz Frankel







Thirteen Days in September: The Dramatic Story of the Struggle for Peace and God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright is best known for his journalistic work, and so after he wrote the script of Camp David, he decided to turn it into a book and the result is Thirteen Days in September. His most recent book is God Save Texas, a combination of memoir and in-depth reporting detailing Wright’s relationship to his home state. As a relatively new Texan, I found it an invaluable read but have no doubt that people who are Texans by birth like Lawrence will enjoy it, as well.

Lily Wolff






Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austin
Lay the perfect foundation for Kate Hamill’s quirky, contemporary and irreverent adaptation of my favorite Jane Austen story of all time. Give Austen’s Sense and Sensibility a read to find out what makes Fanny Dashwood shriek, “Viper in my bosom!” And then add that exclamation to your own arsenal. And a note from Rob: I especially recommend the annotated Sense and Sensibility edited by David M. Shapard.  It is full of interesting details about the period that enrich a reading of the novel.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
I asked Qui Nguyen about fun companion reading for our upcoming production of his play Vietgone. Qui recommended checking out The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. This 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning thriller follows a French-Vietnamese communist double-agent as he rebuilds his life in Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon. While communist spies don’t make an appearance in Vietgone, the journey of Vietnamese refugees starting a new life in America is central. And who can resist an award-winning page-turner, anyway? 

Plays By Women from The Contemporary American Theatre Festival
I first met Chisa Hutchinson at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. She was working on her brilliant two-hander Dead and Breathing and I was Assistant Directing other shows and wishing I could spend more time with her. CATF takes place every summer in Shepherdstown, WV, just four miles from Sharpsburg, MD, the setting of Chisa’s play Amerikin. A coincidence, you say? Not at all. Chisa was inspired to write Amerikin while at the festival and it even receives a special shout-out in her play. Now we’re producing the world premiere of Amerikin and my dream of spending more time with Chisa is coming true! You should spend some time with her too by reading the play she was working on the summer we met, as well as all the other awesome plays in this anthology.