1000 E University Ave
Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2379
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Only recently has Jaime Cruz felt comfortable calling himself a playwright.
Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in theater, he's lived the playwright's life, spending his days working in Laramie and his nights writing.
The work has paid off in regional and national recognition. At the Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and Northwest Drama Conference in February, Cruz won the Northwest Playwriting Alliance Playwriting Award for his full-length play Videotape, or Lupe and the End of the World. He also won the top regional award for his one-act play, Cuatro # Cuatro. That same one-act play also won the National Partners of American Theatre playwriting award, a new award of which Cruz is the first recipient.
Cruz says the recognition opens doors for him in the world of playwriting.
"These experiences through the university that have allowed me to meet all these new people and other artists around the country have inspired me to work harder so I can keep involved with theater with those people I've already met," he says. "It feels good to say, ‘I've won some awards, could you please read my play?' as opposed to, ‘Please read my play.' It gives me a little bit more credibility, so I hope to keep at it."
His journey as a playwright started at the movies, which inspired him to write his own screenplays. At Evanston High School in Wyoming, Cruz was motivated by his theater teacher, Sonia Shetler, who encouraged his writing and showed him some innovation in storytelling.
After graduating from Evanston in 2004, Cruz encountered another motivating teacher, this one in the drama program at Casper College. Cruz took a once-a-week course in playwriting, where each student brought a scene for the class to read and perform, and it opened his eyes to how a playwright must be specific about what the scene means.
At UW, another teacher influenced his work, this time UW theater professor William Missouri Downs (UWyo, Fall 2005). From Downs, Cruz says he learned to take blunt criticism, something every artist eventually finds out.
Now Cruz is writing up a storm, hoping to move on to a bigger city with a large and thriving theater community. As telling a story via stage is his main passion, Cruz wants to bring that passion for storytelling to audiences near and far.
"To have the opportunity to be involved with the great theater artists I've been around, I'm just grateful that I was able to be in Wyoming and to be a Mexican-American living in Wyoming, experiencing America the way that I have," he says. "That has been incredible for me as an artist, and I hope I can share that, not only with a Wyoming audience but with other communities, or hopefully with the rest of the country. Just being involved with theater and sharing that passion for what theater can be-my hope for the future is just being able to pass that on to people."
Content courtesy of the UWYO Magazine