Myrna Casas is one of the most versatile creative artists in the realm of Puerto Rican theater. She has been an actress, a playwright, a producer, a costume designer, a stage director, a professor, and a historian. She was for several years director of the drama department at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1963 Casas and partners Jossie Pérez and Gilda Navarra founded a theater company, Producciones Cisne, which is still in existence today.
Casas was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 2, 1934, the only child of Carmen Busó Carrasquillo and Sixto Casas Semidei. Still a child, she made her stage debut in Pinocchio, a production of Lotti Tischer’s academy at the Riviera Theater in Santurce. She chose to devote her life to the theater. She majored in drama at Vassar College, graduating in 1954, and then received a masters degree in acting from Boston University (1961). In 1974 she completed her Ph.D. in Theater Education at New York University.
Casas played the role of Hortensia in the stage debut of the play by René Marqués, Los soles truncos, in 1958. She initiated her career as a prolific playwright in 1960 with a work entitled Cristal roto en el tiempo [Broken Glass in Time]. Since then she has written more than thirty plays, including Eugenia Victoria Herrera, Absurdos en soledad, La trampa, Al garete, Cuarenta años después, Crónicas de obsesión, Este país no existe, Tres noches tropicales, Juegos de obsesión, Las reinas del Chantecler and the opera libretto El mensajero de plata. In 1988 her play El gran circo eucraniano [The Great U.S.Krainian Circus] won the National Dramaturgy award of the Circle of Puerto Rican Drama Critics. This play was presented at the Hispanic American Festival in Miami in 1990 and later was Puerto Rico’s entry at the Festival Latino in New York City, where it received acclaim from the New York Times.
Myrna Casas was the director of the Experimental Theater of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, an institution dedicated to the fine arts. The Ateneo paid homage to Casas by dedicating to her the 28th Drama Festival (Festival de Teatro) in 2005. That same year, the Ateneo published her thesis in book form, entitled La producción teatral en Puerto Rico de 1700 a 1824. Her concern for social issues also led her to enter the political arena; she was elected to the San Juan municipal assembly where she served from 1996 to 2000. The Puerto Rican senate paid tribute to her in December, 2004. In July of 2006 she was honored by the University of Tennessee, the Sociedad General de Escritores de México, and the Centro Cultural Espacio 1900. She received a doctorate Honoris Causa from the Sacred Heart University in 1997, and Turabo University, also in Puerto Rico, granted her a second honorary doctorate in 2005.
Author: Profa. Gilda Orlandi
Published: September 03, 2014.
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