"Getting older makes me a better artist," says playwright Monica Palacios, with absolutely no irony. "The stories I'm telling now I couldn't have told 20 years ago."
Palacios' latest story, Clock, is about to open at Teatro Bravo. Directed by ASU's Marivel Danielson, Clock tells the story of a Latina lesbian couple who decide to have a baby, and the resulting chaos of that decision. "One of the women wants to be a mother, the other one is freaking out, and every other person in their lives has an opinion about whether parenting is a good idea," says Palacios, who's best known as a performer and stand-up comic. She wrote Clock in 1996.
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"I got a commission to write this play from the Latino Theater Initiative in Los Angeles," Palacios recalls, "and after the play was read at the Mark Taper Forum, I sent it out to theaters, and I directed a pretty decent reading of it in Los Angeles in 2005, and then I thought that was it for this piece. It was over. I was disappointed."
Two years ago, Palacios received an e-mail from former Teatro Bravo artistic director Guillermo Reyes, saying that he'd never forgotten Clock and had recommended it to the troupe's new director. A 2012 reading of the play won Teatro Bravo's New Plays Festival and was so well received, it was added it to this season's schedule.
Palacios admits that much of her writing comes from her life and her family, and says that Clock was inspired by an era in her life when it seemed that all her lesbian friends were having babies. "They were all talking about the triumphs and tragedies of parenthood, and my girlfriend at the time and I started talking about maybe having a child together." The couple didn't end up having a baby, and eventually broke up. "But I kept thinking, 'There's a play in this'," Palacios says. "I'd heard so many good stories from lesbian couples who were becoming parents, I had all the material I needed."
Palacios wanted to create a play with an all-female cast. "People kept saying, 'You sure you want to do that? It'll make it really hard to cast!' But I was determined to create Latina characters you rarely see on stage."
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Those characters include Leti, the Goddess of Fertility. "She's an Aztec goddess," Palacios explains. "I knew I wanted a goddess, and those Aztecs have the biggest costumes. Leti comes out in full Aztec goddess drag, and it's really unforgettable."