Augusto Frederico Amador discusses his play, Kissing Che.
What was your inspiration for this play?
I’m very obsessed with historical events and the impact on human lives that they exact, whether just or unjust. What caught my attention was that the persecution of homosexuals by the Castro regime was not very well known, at least by most Americans. So through my imagination, I found myself compelled to tell the stories of the persecuted. More obsessed than inspired I guess you could say. And in Kissing Che, one of the perspectives was through Reina, a fictional Cuban female impersonator.
What do you want the audience to come away with?
I want the audience to experience what Reina and Tamika experienced — the guilt, the shame, and finally the redemption. As the poet, Rilke would say, “To begin is violent.” And that is particularly true of these two.
What was the most challenging part of writing this play?
Well, I’m not gay, nor have I ever been a drag queen. So, it was important to allow these people to talk like human beings and not get caught up in perceptions. And once I allowed my imagination to roam — that is to let Reina, Tamika, Mirabella, and Derek just speak to each other as people — I knew I could start writing their stories.
Why did you start writing plays?
It’s safe to say that one could label me as a loner. Solitude has for the most part come easy to me. And well, writing requires solitude, so it’s been a good fit.
What projects are you working on now?
I just finished a play called the Book of Leonidas which centers around a small-time Dominican-American hustler selling loosies on a block in Queens that his deceased and legendary crime lord father used to rule over in the 1970s. It’s a play that asks if it’s possible for a son to escape the sins of the father. And I’ve begun a new play about a young prison caretaker working in a hospice in San Quentin taking care of the dying inmates while struggling to come to terms with his accepting the consequences of his guilt. Redemption ain’t an easy road.
What advice do you have for playwrights starting out?
Love your solitude.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, special thanks to my family, director Victor Maog, the Latino Theater Alliance, the Public Theater, and my past mentor Diana Castle. As she says, “The work informs your life.”