Playwright Tony Meneses feels right at home at Two River Theater in Red Bank. He's excited about the world premiere of The Women Of Padilla. Meneses was also the playwright of one of Two River's most adored shows Guadalupe in the Guest Room.
The Women of Padilla characters are linked by their marriages to eight brothers and their shared last name, Padilla. The eight very different sisters-in-law connect through the power of food, faith, laughter and each other while their husbands are away at war.
“It’s a timeless show and it’s a timeless show on purpose. There’s not a year this play is set in for that reason cause I do think this show can be done 50 years ago, it could be done 50 years from now and I think we are still going to relate to how we sometimes how we engage in heightened conflict like war and why war exists”.
Tony Meneses was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in Albuquerque and Dallas. He is currently under commission from the Denver Center Theatre and Two River Theater. Meneses is also the recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center ACTF Latino Playwriting Award.
“I think when art is done truthfully and its done well anyone from any experience, any walk of life, male, female, any racial divide that are created. We can all access a shared humanity and a shared language about what its like to actually be on this earth together and to share a common ground about what we all have to deal with and what we all have to struggle with as human beings."
Meneses got his MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop and his BA from UT Austin.
The characters' names and personalities in The Women of Padilla were all taken from his mother and his aunts in Mexico. He lost his father years ago.
“Grief is so funny that sometimes as someone who processes things with words to not have words suddenly then knowing eventually I was going to have to cope with words as a playwright, so eventually it started to come out in this play and others plays, the notions of grief and how I’ve dealt with that in my life”.
Meneses is thrilled to be working with eight actresses and director Ken Rus Schmoll.
“The best pieces of advice I got was, remember directors names so that when you got an opportunity to work with someone, you know them. So Ken Rus Schmoll was someone whose work I saw early on in New York and being blown away by his point of view and his hand and how he makes work. I wanted someone that has real sense of vision, someone that isn’t just staging a play, someone who has imagination and a creative spirit. He’s someone I would work with a bazillion times if I could."
The Women of Padilla runs through April 30th at Two River Theater. Click above to hear the entire interview with Tony Meneses and WBGO's Doug Doyle.