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4927 Southfork Drive Lakeland FL 33813

Gretchen Suárez-Peña

Last June, the play “Conversations in the Car” was presented, directed and written by the renowned playwright Gretchen Suárez-Peña, winner of the 2018 Tampa Bay Theater Festival for the best long-playing play, who also He won first prize for his short play, Dry Spell, by Ninety Theater in Mandeville (2018), and a Writer's Grant and Best Play at the 2019 Be Original Festival in Orlando, for his play Trafficked. Being these some of her achievements and recognitions as a playwright, Gretchen told us about her life, as well as her beginnings and the advancement of her artistic and work career.

She was born in Puerto Rico and when she was just a baby, her family decided to move to Lakeland, Florida. She studied at the International Baccalaureate program in Bartow and graduated from it in 2005. From a very young age she participated in plays and at a very young age she discovered her passion for writing her own plays and producing them. She decided to go to study at the University of South Florida (USF) where she graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. She also has a master's degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida (UF). Since the age of seventeen she has been working in the field of engineering and transportation.

While it is true that in daily life people require the ability to multitask, Gretchen seems to understand very well how to be a multifaceted woman, as she has in her favor the knowledge of using her creativity to balance between engineering, where he works most of the day, and the theater in the afternoons. She told us: “The method and creativity of my brain is important… I need both to feel satisfied and alert.”

He likes to put his language in his works. Although he writes them in English, he seems to merge between two languages by not putting limits on writing. Her inspiration comes from everywhere and she is sure that her experience as a Puerto Rican woman is essential when writing characters for Latino actors.

Last May, he decided to pause his foray into engineering and this fall he is going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to study dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Her family of her husband Alan Peña and her son Avi Manuel will stay in Bartow, Florida. She has several plays that are going to be produced this year in Orlando and possibly in New York. She's writing a new musical with a very prominent composer in New York City (which she'll tell us about later because she's a surprise) that will hopefully get a production right there.

To learn more about his life and works you can visit: and the Plays by Gretchen page on Facebook.

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