November 22, 2022

I started my journey at New York Theatre Workshop doing a reading with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins—he was an artist in the fellowship program at the time. I remember walking into the third-floor studio with its skylight and feeling such a wonderful, positive energy. I applied for the fellowship myself. The first time—and second time—I didn’t get in! Ha! But something about NYTW drew me back—its warmth, its circle of artists, the deep questioning that seemed to reverberate through the space. So, I applied again after grad school. This time, I got in.

At NYTW, I’ve worked with incredible people who confront the world and what it means to live in it. We’ve created work that speaks to what’s happening both locally and abroad. It’s been eye opening—the continual sense of questioning and curiosity and passionate debate.

The shows I’ve directed over the years at NYTW have sought to capture all of that: Lucas Hnath’s brazenly theatrical Red Speedo (a POOL inside a THEATRE!); Marcus Gardley’s poetic and large and soul-shaking The House That Will Not Stand; and Somi’s searing, beautiful Dreaming Zenzile, about the artist Miriam Makeba, who essentially gave her life to fight for others with her music. And this is what is so amazing about NYTW: their support of plays that shake us to the core with big questions about what it means to be alive.

I was an audience member, then a Fellow, and then a director on NYTW’s stage. In 2021 I was asked to be a Trustee. I was honored, because it meant that my artistry was valued not only in the work that I made onstage, but in thinking about the organization as a whole. I’ve loved being a Trustee—it reaffirms my love and care for NYTW and allows me to dream about how it can continue to grow and what it can become.

Now the world has changed! We have all changed! Change is the only constant. I’m overjoyed to see NYTW under the helm of Patricia McGregor. Amidst the tumultuousness of our recent collective HUMAN experience, it’s wonderful to be in the presence of a leader who guides with serenity and can navigate the possibilities with grace and compassion—while also inviting some new people to the party! NYTW is a place for unexpected collisions, and I’m excited to see what kind of electrifying, caring collaborations might take flight through Patricia’s inspiration.

I’ve been around this place for a long time, and I’m still here because NYTW cares about people. Artist and Audience. Humanity as a whole. It’s a hallowed and special place dedicated to theatre that will expand our minds, our hearts—dare I say SOULS? That may be cheesy, but I think it’s becoming harder and harder to find places where we really get to wrestle with ourselves in theatrically thrilling ways—in deep, powerful ways. Give to the theater that makes you feel ALIVE. Give to the theater that reminds you how incredible it is to be a human being—to feel and experience life with others. Give to the theater that will open your mind in ways you never even expected. Give with the anticipation of going on a truly fantastic journey with an incredible group of artists.

With love,

Lileana Blain-Cruz
NYTW Trustee & Usual Suspect



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Categories: Artist Interviews and NYTW Spotlight. Tags: Lileana Blain-Cruz.