Faculty & Guest Spotlights PrevNext

Faculty Spotlight: Andrew Rincón

posted on March 27th, 2022 by Gemma Siegler

By Gemma Siegler ’22

Beginning this past Fall, Skidmore students have had the privilege to get to know playwright Andrew Rincón as not only an artist, but as a professor as well. Last semester, I had the incredible experience of being a part of Andrew’s first class taught at Skidmore: Introduction to Playwriting. I’ve been writing for a long time, mostly prose and analysis (my English major coming out), but I’d never explored playwriting as a form of expression before this class. So when I walked into Andrew’s office to talk with him about his experience as a theater artist (and now professor), I was excited to catch up with him and hear how his semester has been going. Luckily, he was excited to see me as well and we got straight to talking and catching up.

Andrew Rincón

The first thing I wanted to know was how Andrew got started in theater and why he ultimately chose that form of expression for his work. “I don’t think I knew what a play was until high school,” he told me, and coming from a first-generation American family, he had no familial or cultural attachment to theater as an art form at that point. Towards the end of high school, however, Andrew discovered acting. He had no idea what he wanted to do after high school ended, so he thought about moving out to Los Angeles to start auditions. “My mother pulled the ultimate Latina mother card,” he told me, “she said: you’ll break my heart, don’t you dare.” With this motivation, Andrew decided to attend the Theater BA program at Florida State University. 

The BA program at FSU is very similar to our own program at Skidmore, Andrew told me, as they pushed him in his four years there to try a little bit of everything. This type of education helped branch his mind and ultimately led him to playwriting. “It was the college experience that we hope for all of you, that your brain gets broken open and you become a different person than you were when you entered.” 

Art of Andrew

When Andrew was 20 years old he took a class called Latinx Theater History with Dr. Irma Mayorga, a Latinx theater scholar. “It floored me,” he said, “my culture is such a big part of my childhood and my family, I had no idea Latinx theater was a thing, I remember thinking ‘that doesn’t exist. If it did I would know about it.’” It was after this class that Andrew started writing his own work. 

Even though he hadn’t written out any of his play ideas before college, Andrew was always a playwright from the beginning without realizing it. “I would watch X-Men and then play with my dolls as the X-men characters and create new plots for them to live in,” he told me, and I laughed because I used to do the same thing. When he started writing, he began with monologues and practicing writing dialogue. He found that writing helped him to access emotions that acting or directing didn’t allow. The first time he ever cried on stage, he told me, was reading a monologue that he wrote. Finding writing, for him, was “like finally fitting into your skin.” 

Andrew with the Latinx Playwright Circle

Then, I asked Andrew what it was like to write and stage his first play. It was called Friends in Equilateral, he told me, “the title is great but if anyone ever asked me to read them pages I’d probably stab them in the face.” He staged it in his senior year in rep with one of his friends and collaborators (very similar to the dynamic of our Spring Black Box). It was a very emotional experience for him, as Andrew is a very emotionally driven writer. Watching his play and discussing the emotional response with audience members drives Andrew’s creation of more work. “I never had that with acting, but maybe that was because I never saw a Latino queer person out there.” 

That’s what’s so exciting about Andrew’s current project, a workshop of his new play El Mito de Mi Dolor (The Myth of My Pain) happening at Skidmore later this semester. Andrew is bringing in four professional actors and two Skidmore actors to work with him on this new piece. It’s still in the early stages, he told me, and he’s still exploring the world with Teisha Duncan (who is directing the piece) and having dramaturgical conversations with Lisa Jackson-Schebetta. “It’s an all Latinx cast, which is really magical, and it’s exciting to get to watch Latinx actors play roles written for them.” 

Andrew with the Greater Good Commission Playwrights 2021

“What’s your experience been like at Skidmore so far?” I asked him. 

“What if I said I hate it, especially Gemma,” he said jokingly and we laughed together for a little bit.

“It’s actually been very healing.” There’s something powerful, for Andrew, about disseminating something he’s been doing for so long down to its basic principles. Like many people working in theater, Andrew’s life got derailed by COVID-19. The NYC debut of his play I Wanna Fuck Like Romeo and Juliet was supposed to happen in May of 2020. Around that same time, Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, the chair of our department, reached out to Andrew to see if he wanted to teach and work at Skidmore for the year. This is Andrew’s first time teaching in a formal setting, which surprised me as a student of his. For Andrew, being around theater students who are still formulating the foundations of what storytelling means to them (or people who are “still daring to experiment,” in his words) has been refreshing. In the professional world, there are so many constricting things that happen for artists. We are constantly having to pitch and package ourselves to fit into other people’s boxes, and we start to forget why we’re doing it in the first place. This is why, for Andrew, teaching playwriting has been illuminating. “There are about a thousand ways in to playwriting, and you all have been really amazing.” 

More art of Andrew!

Finally, I asked Andrew if he had any advice for Skidmore students (playwriting or otherwise). This is what he had to offer: “By the end of college, you’re exhausted and it feels really hard and scary to jump into the world. Your life as artists will fluctuate and change. Try and think about the way theater touches all aspects of your lives, and where your impulse to create comes from, not just how to make money or get jobs. Embrace the art and the way it feels.” 

To learn more about Andrew check out his website: https://www.andrewrinconwrites.com/


Gemma Siegler ’22 is the Editor-in-Chief of the Skidmore Theater Living Newsletter.

share on