The Subtext - Brian James Polak

The Subtext. Episode 4: Luis Alfaro

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A podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires and — ultimately — what makes writers tick. 

In this episode, Brian talks to Luis Alfaro about what triggered him to become a writer, sculpting new work from the classics, and finding humanity in different types of audiences. (Bonus: A+ pop culture references.) 

Luis AlfaroLUIS ALFARO is a Chicano writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short stories, performance and journalism. He was born and raised in the Pico/Union district of downtown Los Angeles, blocks from the USC campus, where he works as an Assistant Professor at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Alfaro is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant.” He was a Joyce Foundation Fellow and received awards from the The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well The Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund. He has won The Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays twice, and has also been the recipient of awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, and PEN USA, among others. His plays include Bruja (Magic Theatre in San Francisco), Oedipus el Rey (Victory Gardens in Chicago, Magic Theatre, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Woolly Mammoth in Washington, D.C. and is the winner of the Glickman Prize for best play of the 2010 season in San Francisco, as well as Best Adaptation from the L.A. Weekly Theatre Awards), Electricidad (Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Borderlands Theatre in Tucson), Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage in Conn.) Black Butterfly (Mark Taper Forum, Kennedy Center & Smithsonian Museum), Straight as a Line (Primary Stages Off-Broadway, Romanian National Theatre, Goodman Theatre in Chicago). His solo performances have been seen at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, The Getty Center, Boston Center for the Arts, The Goodman Theatre, Hirshorn Museum at the Smithsonian, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and X-Teresa Performance Space in Mexico City, among others. His most recent one-man show, St. Jude, world premiered at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre and was presented as a part of South Coast Repertory’s Studio SCR series.

Reach The Subtext at, or on Twitter @SubtextPodcast.

Brian James Polak

Brian James Polak

Brian is originally from New Hampshire and he has a tattoo to prove it. Some of his plays have been published in Smith & Kraus anthologies, and his embarrassing childhood poetry has been published in Mortified: Love is a Battlefield. He is a member of The Playwrights Union and received his MFA from the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Go to to learn more about his work. Follow him on Twitter @bejaypea.