Visiting Lecturer, Playwright Lisa Marie Rollins Explores Cultural Identities

Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Lisa Marie Rollins is an acclaimed playwright, director and poet based in the San Francisco Bay Area. This semester, Rollins is a visiting lecturer at CC, teaching two classes and directing a play at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Among many other accolades, Rollins has been a Sundance Theatre fellow and a writing fellow with the San Francisco Writers Grotto, and has written and directed award-winning plays and poetry.

With her work, Rollins is particularly interested “in ensuring that institutions that produce and develop plays move to a place where they are considering deeply what kind of ‘diverse’ plays they are putting up.” She explains, “my work is to require anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-homophobic practices in how you assemble and hire creative teams and select or commission plays.”

Currently, Rollins is teaching a course called Rewriting America: Playwrights and Cultural Identity. The class is focused on “plays from multiple American diasporic identities,” Rollins explains. “We are having lots of discussions about how these playwrights and their characters imagine ‘America’ and the challenges they encounter or struggles they endure either around identity or around the notions of ‘success’ and the ‘American Dream,’” she continues.

During Block 6, Rollins will teach Writing for Performance, in which she’ll use “immigrant or people of color narratives including some strong feminist perspectives.” With these courses, Rollins hopes to push students to consider themselves in relation to the world around them. “There is so much fear in the ways we communicate, fear about making mistakes and being called out, fear of being ridiculed, of being ostracized, of being rejected from community or from people we love, so much fear. I think about Audre Lorde and her question to us after she told us that “your silence will not protect you,” Rollins says. “My hope is that I can provide a place to begin to find and voice those small truths.”

In addition to teaching, Rollins is directing the world premiere of former CC Professor of Theatre and Dance Idris Goodwin’s play “American Prom.” It is the story of a segregated prom in current-day America, and “asks us to push ourselves to acknowledge the world as it is, so we can actually find a way to begin to change it, to change ourselves,” Rollins says. The play is showing at UCCS until Feb. 10.