Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to stage Pulitzer Prize-winning play | Arts & Entertainment

Finding a home or community, whether it’s of our own making or one we’re born into, can help save and heal us.

In Quiara Alegría Hudes’ 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Water by the Spoonful,” we meet Elliot, a Puerto Rican veteran of the Iraq War. It’s 2009, and he’s been home for six years and is working at a Subway in Philadelphia, where he’s struggling to fit into the community. In a separate storyline, which eventually intersects with Elliot’s, we see an online chat room where three people in recovery from drug addiction have created a community.

Playwright Hudes, best known for collaborating with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Tony Award-winning 2007 musical “In the Heights,” won the Pulitzer for “Water by the Spoonful” before it was performed, which is outside the usual protocol for the prestigious award.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company will mount the play through March 3 at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

“It’s about the dissonance and chaos due to addiction and war, but also about people struggling to find a home and create a community for second chances,” director Elise Santora said. “It’s interesting to see characters have the wherewithal of trying to get out of their trauma with as few tools as possible and get to the other side.”

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“Water by the Spoonful” is the second in a trilogy of standalone plays by Hudes called The Elliot Trilogies, which follow Elliot and were inspired by Hudes’ childhood growing up in Philadelphia. In the first, “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue,” Elliot returns home from Iraq and deals with his war experience. The third, “The Happiest Song Plays Last,” follows Elliot and his cousin Yazmin as they each search for love, meaning and hope.

The trilogies were the first plays in which Hudes incorporated music. In “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue,” she tapped into classical music. In the second two, she was inspired by other genres. “I had a sense that part two would be about recovery and part three would be about a kind of activism. I had already done western classical, so I wanted to do jazz — something very American. Then for the third to do something that was global — folk music — and the tradition I chose was regional, a Puerto Rican tradition of folk music,” she told online magazine Guernica in 2012.

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Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane inspired Hudes, Santos says, and the FAC was able to get permission to use two pieces from his music list.

“The chaos and dissonance that is characteristic of Coltrane music is what (Hudes) felt when she heard the language of online chat rooms,” Santos said. “Music is a conduit in the play. It was carefully chosen for the dissonance in the characters from one scene to another.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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