Playwright and Theatre professor of the practice Melinda Lopez never seems stop creating. Even amidst interruptions brought on by the pandemic in the past few years, the Elliot Norton Award-winner created the audio drama series Dream Boston with colleagues at The Huntington Theatre and the Zoom play “The Black Beans Project” with actor and writer Joel Perez.
On January 14, the co-creators will read “The Black Beans Project” as part of the Powers New Voices Festival at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
While Dream Boston follows characters in the near future as they navigate the city, “The Black Beans Project” follows characters who are still in the middle of the pandemic. Brother and sister Henry (Perez) and Mariana (Lopez) do something that was familiar to many during that time: they hop on a Zoom call. Chatting as they cook frijoles negros in their respective kitchens, Mariana shares the secret of their mother’s recipe as both siblings find a way to talk about their grief about losing their mother.
Lopez, who has been working as playwright and actor for two decades, embraced working with audio and Zoom in the pandemic. “The American theater has been terribly inaccessible: It’s been too expensive, white, and unwelcoming,” she told the Boston Globe. “Zoom has made theater so much more accessible to many more people. That’s a huge benefit.”
“The Black Beans Project” debuted in 2021 with The Huntington, where Lopez is a playwright in residence. Both Lopez and Perez will reprise their roles for the reading at Powers New Voices Festival.