For Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Quiara Alegría Hudes, bringing her family’s stories to the stage is an act of healing.

Quiara Alegría Hudes has been writing for the stage for over 20 years. Quiara’s work often draws from her family’s experience of growing up in west Philadelphia in the late 1980’s and 90’s. Her play, “Water By The Spoonful,” which looks at themes of war, trauma and addiction — won the 2012 Pulitzer prize.

Quiara worked alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the book for the musical “In The Heights,” and later wrote the script for the film adaptation. But in the fall of 2018, Quiara announced that she would take a break from theater. Tired of a white, male dominated theater world, Quiara turned inward. The result was Quiara’s first memoir: “My Broken Language.”

“It’s hard for me to remember that I never wept for one of my cousins,” Quiara says. “I didn’t know how to grieve. I think the process of writing them down and memorializing them, breathing new life into their stories — that has been my process of grief. 30 years later. And it is a joyous one.”

In her book, Quiara leaned on her memories of the women in her family, her Philly-Rican matriarchs.

“All my big cousins who were like my goddesses, they were great dancers and they had so much personality and individuality in their moves. And it just brought back hanging out at abuela’s house. The joy was overwhelming. ”

In the fall of 2022, Quiara brought “My Broken Language” to Off-Broadway. It was also her first time directing.

In this episode of Latino USA, Quiara talks about her memoir, adapting it for the stage, and how joy and grief intertwine in the stories she tells.

Featured image courtesy of Gregory Costanzo.

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