Anita Gonzalez

Anita Gonzalez

Gonzalez’ creative writings focus on telling women’s stories and histories. Her work has appeared on PBS national television and at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Working Theatre, New York Live Arts, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, The Cell, and Dixon Place. Recent work includes Zoom performances of her ten-minute musical Dance Off for Chicago Dramatists, a libretto workshop for Home of my Ancestors at...
Gonzalez’ creative writings focus on telling women’s stories and histories. Her work has appeared on PBS national television and at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Working Theatre, New York Live Arts, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, The Cell, and Dixon Place. Recent work includes Zoom performances of her ten-minute musical Dance Off for Chicago Dramatists, a libretto workshop for Home of my Ancestors at Frontiers/Fort Worth Opera (originally commissioned by Houston Grand Opera Co.), and an Equity showcase production of Ybor City with Brooklyn Tavern Theatre in NYC (Cuban unionists, readings, rhumba, and smoke converge in 1918 Tampa, Florida). Gonzalez is a member of the National Theatre Conference, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, League of Professional Women in Theatre, the Player’s Club and the Dramatists Guild.

Gonzalez was a founding member of the Urban Bush Women. She has choreographed for Ballet Hispanico, taught theater in Central America and the United Kingdom, given professional and educational workshops in Caribbean and African American dance and lectured about the process of developing new plays. The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Mid Atlantic Arts Association, and the FIDEOCOMISO for United States/ Mexico Arts exchange have all funded her work. For her individual scholarship and teaching, she has been awarded a residency at Rockefeller’s Bellagio Center (2003) and three Senior Scholar Fulbright grants. 

Gonzalez’s unique interdisciplinary initiatives include projection mapped performances of The Snark and The Living Lakes in the Duderstadt Center, developing a performance installation and lecture series titled “Conjuring the Caribbean,” leading a team to develop the interactive historical website 19thCenturyActs, founding Anishinaaabe Theatre Exchange in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to engage Ojibwe communities in dialogue through theatrical performance, and creating a massive open online course “Storytelling for Social Change” with 20,000 learners to date. Anita has authored two books Afro-Mexico: Dancing Between Myth and Reality (2010) and Jarocho’s Soul (2005) and co-edited the volumes Black Performance Theory (2013) and Dance and Political Economies (2021). Her essays about multi-cultural and international performance appear in several edited collections including Narratives in Black British Dance (Akinyele), Black Acting Methods (Luckett), Community Performance Reader (Kuppers)

Plays

  • Zora on My Mind
    Zora on My Mind is a jazz/blues chamber musical that writes the story of Key, a woman Zora would want to see. Key, a fiercely independent and strong-minded Black woman, runs her own businesses - a one-chair beauty shop and an inherited boarding house. When shoe shine salesman Malik rents a room in Key's place, the two of them change up the story. Two female interlocutors, Sophie, and Draft want to author...
    Zora on My Mind is a jazz/blues chamber musical that writes the story of Key, a woman Zora would want to see. Key, a fiercely independent and strong-minded Black woman, runs her own businesses - a one-chair beauty shop and an inherited boarding house. When shoe shine salesman Malik rents a room in Key's place, the two of them change up the story. Two female interlocutors, Sophie, and Draft want to author the character's journeys, but the spirit of Zora thrives. The work is inspired by Zora Neale Hurston's essays "Characteristics of Negro Expression" and "How it Feels to be Colored Me".

  • Sunset Dreams
    The story follows several people, mostly African-American women, on a trip to the Caribbean. They snorkel; they look at mountains. But rifts occur, or are revealed. Like many families, they have to deal with the frailties of an aging relative. Themes of memory, ancestry, and the joys and sorrows of family life make up the play’s soul.

    It all started when Lynette listened to her sister Maryse and...
    The story follows several people, mostly African-American women, on a trip to the Caribbean. They snorkel; they look at mountains. But rifts occur, or are revealed. Like many families, they have to deal with the frailties of an aging relative. Themes of memory, ancestry, and the joys and sorrows of family life make up the play’s soul.

    It all started when Lynette listened to her sister Maryse and agreed to travel to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving. It sounded ok. Distant relatives heading to the beach to get away from work and family strife. At first all is good. But once everyone settles in at the hotel, spats and bickering collide with piña coladas and shared vulnerabilities. To top it off, Aunt Nettie’s mental state keeps everyone on edge. Maryse and Lynette regurgitate old wounds and honor their shared childhood experiences. Eventually, the celebrants reach Sunset Dreams beach and immerse themselves in salty ocean waves. Except they don’t know how to swim. Ancestors and ancient rituals long-forgotten sooth their wounds.
  • Ybor City
    BRIEF SYNOPSIS
    An immersive musical about the rise of unionism and healing of racial divides in 1918 Tampa. In Ybor City, factory workers labor under harsh work conditions. Afro-Cuban Pedro works with the white Cuban tabaqueros but struggles for acceptance by the community. When an outsider named Rafael comes to Ybor City to read newspapers for the factory workers he falls for Teresa, the sister of union...
    BRIEF SYNOPSIS
    An immersive musical about the rise of unionism and healing of racial divides in 1918 Tampa. In Ybor City, factory workers labor under harsh work conditions. Afro-Cuban Pedro works with the white Cuban tabaqueros but struggles for acceptance by the community. When an outsider named Rafael comes to Ybor City to read newspapers for the factory workers he falls for Teresa, the sister of union organizer Catalino. Catalino leads a factory walk-out, violence erupts. No one knows who to blame. The community struggles to trust one another and unite while fighting for their right to form a multi-racial union.
  • Ayanna Kelly
    Ayanna Kelly tells the story of Ayanna, an Afro Caribbean woman who travels to Liverpool to search for her father after the death of her mother. She leaves behind a boyfriend named Robert as she begins her quest for self. When Ayanna lands in Liverpool she meets a man named Monroe who leads her into a magic pub. There, the two of them begin a journey where they meet ghosts “playing” in past worlds in which they...
    Ayanna Kelly tells the story of Ayanna, an Afro Caribbean woman who travels to Liverpool to search for her father after the death of her mother. She leaves behind a boyfriend named Robert as she begins her quest for self. When Ayanna lands in Liverpool she meets a man named Monroe who leads her into a magic pub. There, the two of them begin a journey where they meet ghosts “playing” in past worlds in which they are expected to play a part. Together, Ayanna and Monroe rehearse Shakespeare scenes in tea gardens, sing Caribbean songs in council house flats, play Mersey beat in the Cavern Club, evoke sea shanties on a phantom ship and a fight over a trip hop start named Wikkid T. Eventually Ayanna finds her father but he is not what she expected.
  • Home of My Ancestors
    It’s Juneteenth. Olivia, a Chicago-based African American doctor, returns to her childhood home in Houston’s Third Ward for her Grandma Rose’s memorial service. Her ex-boyfriend Barron hopes to rekindle their relationship as they reminisce and pack her grandmother’s living room. When Olivia falls asleep and dreams of her ancestors, she awakens with a new understanding of home and heritage.
  • Le Hot Blu
    Le Hot Blu is an American syncopated musical about a Harlem neighborhood and a 1947 bebop club. FRANKLIN runs a nightclub where his daughter, VINCY, sings. VINCY wants something more from her life, and when DOC, an aspiring jazz pianist (and the Jewish boy next door) plays at the club, a musical love affair begins to bloom. Doc’s MOM tries to protect her son from the neighborhood characters, but when the mob...
    Le Hot Blu is an American syncopated musical about a Harlem neighborhood and a 1947 bebop club. FRANKLIN runs a nightclub where his daughter, VINCY, sings. VINCY wants something more from her life, and when DOC, an aspiring jazz pianist (and the Jewish boy next door) plays at the club, a musical love affair begins to bloom. Doc’s MOM tries to protect her son from the neighborhood characters, but when the mob threatens, she rallies with the BAND, the BOPPETTES, and the SPIRIT of HARLEM to save their favorite musical spot - Le Hot Blu