University of Arizona
University of Arizona


Elaine Romero

Associate Professor, School of Theatre, Film and Television

School of Theatre, Film & Television

MFA University of California, Davis; BA Linfield College

Playwright Elaine Romero once passed out ham sandwiches with Mother Teresa in Paris. She loves to write in coffee shops and claims that most of her plays “begin as a sort of haunting.”

Elaine’s trilogy U.S. at War: Three Plays includes Graveyard of Empires, A Work of Art, and the upcoming Rain of Ruin. Graveyard of Empires, the first installment of the U.S. at War, won the American Blues Theater’s Blue Ink! Playwriting Award and received its World Premiere at 16th Street Theater under the direction of Kevin Christopher Fox. Chicago Dramatists in association with the Goodman Theatre, produced the World Premiere of A Work of Art under the direction of Goodman’s Associate Artist, Henry Godinez. The play was developed as part of the Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit led by dramaturg Tanya Palmer. Modern Slave received a staged-reading at Victory Gardens Theater, directed by Erica Weiss.

Elaine is working as the head playwright for Barrio Stories for Borderlands Theater with funding for herself and her collaborator, Professor Lydia Otera, from the University of Arizona’s Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry. The play will receive its World Premiere in Spring 2016.

Ponzi and Walk into the Sea were also presented at the Goodman. Ponzi (Edgerton Fund for New American Play Award) premiered at Kitchen Dog Theater. Her trilogy about the Arizona/Mexican border includes Wetback and Mother of Exiles (commissioned and produced by Cornell University). With the Arizona Theatre Company, Elaine has been awarded an NEA grant to oversee Voices of a New America, an ambitious project to include Latino in every aspect of the company. The grant provides funds for Elaine to write the third and final play of her border trilogy.

Something Rare and Wonderful received its World Premiere at the Alley Theatre. Barrio Hollywood was performed at Orlando Shakespeare Theater (OST; Spanish translation) and premiered in Spanish at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, GA. Acting editions of Barrio Hollywood in separate English and Spanish are published by Samuel French. Elaine was the first author in Samuel French’s 175-year history to be published in Spanish. The play also appears in Vaqueeros, Calacas, and Hollywood (Bilingual Review Press). Other productions include Borderlands Theater, Miracle Theatre, and New Theatre. Revolutions premiered in Spanish at the Panama National Theatre and in English at Manhattan Theatre Source.

Some commissions include Ford’s Theatre (Modern Slave), Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (Xochi: Jaguar Princess), Theatre Seven of Chicago (These People), Alley Theatre, Cornell University (Mother of Exiles), Arkansas Repertory Theatre (Sun, Stone, and Shadows), Kitchen Dog Theater Company/NNPN Commission (Ponzi), InterAct Theatre Company (The Dalai Lama is Not Welcome Here), and Magic Theatre/Sloan Science & Technology Grant (Walk into the Sea).  She has participated in the Sundance Playwrights’ Retreat, Playwrights’ Center’s New Plays on Campus Program, and Arkansas Repertory’s Voices at the River.

Elaine participated in the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Television Writer’s Program, NBC’s Writers on the Verge Program, and CBS Diversity Institute’s Writer’s Mentorship Program. She received the Arizona Commission on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, TCG/Pew National Theatre Artist in Residence grant, the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights grant.  Other awards include: Los Angeles Film School Scholarship, Sprenger-Lang New History Play Contest, Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Award, and The Chicano/Latino Literary Award.

Some of Elaine’s other plays include iCuranderas! Serpents of the Clouds, Alicia, Like Heaven, If Susan Smith Could Talk, Majestic County, Secret Things, The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen, Before Death Comes for the Archbishop, Day of Our Dead, Undercurrents have been developed/produced at such theatres as Actors Theatre of Louisville, Magic Theatre, Ford Amphitheatre, New Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Curious Theatre Company, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Kitchen Dog Theater, Urban Stages, INTAR, the Playwrights’ Center, Women’s Project and Productions, the Working Theater, the Lark Theatre, Invisible Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Borderlands Theater, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Miracle Theatre.

Publishers include: Samuel French, Vintage Books, Playscripts, Smith and Kraus, Heinemann Press, University of Iowa Press, UA Press, Simon and Schuster, Applause Books, and Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Upcoming publications include an essay entitled, “The Power of Space” in (Re)Positioning the Latina/o Americas: Theatrical Histories and Cartographies of Power. Southern Illinois University Press, a contribution in Michael Wright’s Playwriting at Work and Play,and the play, Xochi: Jaguar Princess in Palabras Del Cielo: A Critical Anthology of Latina/o TYA Plays & Playwrights with Dramatic Publishing. Walking Home will be published abroad.

Elaine has been a Guest Artist at the Mark Taper Forum, Denver Center Theatre Company, and South Coast Repertory. Playwright-in-Residence at the Arizona Theatre Company, Elaine co-chaired the National Association of Independent Producers’ National Conference. She participated in the Hermitage Artist Retreat, ENVISION Retreat, and the Orchard Project. Wetback received readings nationwid and was included in 30/30. Revolutions premiered at Manhattan Theatre Source. The short version of Rain of Ruin was produced in Sydney, Australia and appeared on Australian television. A Simple Snow won the InspiraTO Festival/Toronto.

Elaine was a 2012-2013 Carl Djerassi Fellow at UW-Madison under the generous support of the late Carl J. Djerassi. Recent premieres include Secret Things with Camino Real Productions in New Mexico, and, These People with Theatre Seven of Chicago. Elaine serves on the Board of the National Association of Independent Producers. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.