The Javier Plays
53rd State Press - 2015
The Javier Plays reconstructs a trilogy of lost works by the forgotten Colombian-American playwright Javier C., and examines the riddle, "What does it mean to be American?," from the immigrant perspective of its protagonist. Reflecting Javier's vision to create a theatre of "Bipolar Realism," the plays hopscotch across a broad formalistic bandwidth, from the family secrets play dramaturgy of "Diagram of a Paper Airplane," to the psychedelic medicine show of "A Thick Description of Harry Smith," to the nesting doll like meditation on Latino American identity of "Your Name Will Follow you Home." Together, they tell an epic -- one man's attempt to comprehend his role as a storyteller in an America that is alien to him.
"Carlos Murillo's Javier Plays are to the typical fare on American stages what monster flea markets are to shopping malls: instead of being sterile and orderly with explicable consumables, these epic works are beautiful, messy, ambitious, ragtag, populous, and crazy-full of life. They fold and unfold like America itself -- its violence, its identity crises, its homegrown art, its shape in the eye of the immigrant. And they are many other things as well, these urgent and urgently necessary creations: challenging, dangerous, playful, and full of mind. Carlos Murillo is an obsessive genius writing about obsessive geniuses in search of this nation's genius." - Todd London, University of Washington School of Drama & Former Artistic Director of New Dramatists
"This book is an absolutely extraordinary achievement from a writer at the height of his powers. Carlos Murillo takes themes hinted at in other works and here develops them into magna opera. Although nominally a play collection, The Javier Plays belongs on the metafiction shelf between Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Quite simply, with this effort Murillo has redrawn the boundaries within which we expect a collection of plays to operate. He disavows linear narrative to create an associative world, and places scenes in one work that are only contextualized in another. The radical nature of Murillo’s structural choices fully destabilizes both the reading experience and any assumption an audience might hold regarding the constitution of a play." - Brad Rothbart, American Theatre
"Because Murillo's plays themselves tend to make poetry out of the fragments of the every day -- with each play feeling like a mixtape, where the familiar melds with the incongruous to build a fresh and immediate intimacy -- this collection of materials around the plays makes the experience of reading Murillo's trilogy as much of an experience of literary fiction as it is one of reading dramatic literature."
- StinkyLulu Podcast (aka Brian Herrera, Princeton University)