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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

Film, Television and Theatre professor publishes play exploring diversity, religion

Years in the making, Dr. Anne Garcia-Romero’s play, “Paloma,” was recently published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc. “Paloma” follows three characters, Ibrahim, Paloma and Jared, all of differing religious backgrounds, and explores the idea of coexisting with diverse religions and cultures.

Garcia-Romero, an associate professor of Film, Television and Theater, specializes in playwriting and Latina theater. Largely affected by her bicultural upbringing, she considers cross-cultural communication in a number of her works.

“My whole life has been negotiating diverse cultural worlds, and my plays often explore these kinds of intersections between Latinx worlds and Anglo worlds, questioning how we find ways to connect and how we find find ways to navigate these divides,” she said. “I think that the American theater needs to reflect the diversity of our society in language and in culture, and so my plays are my effort to contribute to that.”

While in graduate school studying the Don Juan plays throughout history Garcia-Romero came across “Ring of the Dove,” an ancient Muslim text from Spain that examines the nuances of love. Garcia-Romero said the book and the idea of coexistence together guided her in writing the play, and every scene in the play is named after a chapter in the book. Ibrahim and Paloma also study this text in the play, and eventually fall in love.

“After I found the book I just was so taken by this idea that in my personal family history and Spain there was this time where there was this coexistence,” she said.

After writing the first draft of “Paloma” in 2005, it has since been produced three times across the nation—in New Mexico, California and New York.

“In each experience I was involved in the production. I was revising it and trying out new things, adding new scenes and getting feedback from my directors and actors,” Garcia-Romero said. “After the third production in Ithaca, New York, the play had been through years of processing, and at that point my publisher said she would love to publish the play to make it more accessible to the theater-going community at large.”

Integrating a spectrum of religious and cultural ideas in “Paloma,” Garcia-Romero worked with a number of scholars and artists who share the same interest in the idea of coexistence. 

“As a playwright it is really important for me to consider how I honor the traditions I am trying to write about that aren’t my particular experience,” Garcia-Romero said.

She said Notre Dame has contributed largely to the success of her work by providing a degree of access and research necessary to fully represent the religions and cultures detailed in the play.

“I am really grateful to Notre Dame’s support through this process. The Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, of which I am a fellow, both supported the development of my play,” Garcia-Romero said. “I had a chance to bring my cast to campus about a year and a half ago, and it was really an extraordinary experience to share with Notre Dame, the journey of this play with these actors that have been working on it for two years.”

Although “Paloma” was conceived years ago, it addresses elements of the human condition that will resonate with audiences today and for years to come, she said.

“I am humbled by the fact that it continues to be very relevant, that these issues around coexistence and Islamophobia persists. My play is an attempt to look at these issues and complicate received ideas of what is means to coexist,” Garcia-Romero said.