Art Restart

Art Restart

christopher oscar peña

October 19, 2021

christopher oscar peña is an accomplished playwright with a resume that includes productions, commissions and residencies at some of the country’s most forward-thinking theatrical institutions. Among his most recent productions are the world premieres of his plays “a cautionary tail” at the Flea Theater in New York and “The Strangers” at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN.

chris is also amassing impressive credits as a TV writer, having written for the Emmy-nominated first season of “Jane the Virgin” on the CW and HBO’s highly lauded “Insecure” as well as the Starz series “Sweetbitter.” He is currently on the writing staff for “Promised Land,” a new series that will air this season on ABC.

Early in the pandemic, chris was approached by director James Darragh to join him and composer Ellen Reid, who won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for her opera “p r i s m,” on a new project: a brand-new operatic work to be created specifically for and presented in the digital space. Never an opera aficionado, chris nonetheless jumped at the novel opportunity, and with the addition of “p r i s m” librettist Roxie Perkins, the creators hired a team of writers and composers and then filmed and recorded “Desert In.” All eight episodes are available for viewing on the streaming platform, “Desert In” was described by The Wall Street Journal as “lush and expansive … a highly original marriage of opera and series television,” and The New York Observer wrote that “this stylish film-opera hybrid … is a sun-drenched melodrama.”

In this interview with Pier Carlo Talenti, chris describes how his enduring passion for breaking form and pushing artistic envelopes has allowed him to craft an eclectic career that amplifies his voice and core beliefs.