Six plays, whose topics include the spiritual traditions of Puerto Rico, the search for redemption and mother-daughter rivalry, will be the focus of South Coast Repertory's second annual Hispanic Playwright's Project, SCR announced this week.

From July 6 through 12, the plays will be examined and performed in a series of workshops, seminars and readings, including public readings for three of the works, according to project director Jose Cruz Gonzalez. The remaining three plays will be read privately before representatives of resident theaters from across the country.

SCR launched the project in Costa Mesa last summer with nine playwrights in an effort to develop new plays by Latino writers. There will be fewer writers this year in order to focus more attention on each playwright, SCR spokesman Cristofer Gross said.

Public readings will be held July 10 and 11. Jose Rivera's play, "The Promise," will be read at 7:30 p.m. July 10. On July 11, "Passion," by Ana Maria Simo, will be read at 2:30 p.m. and "Blacklight," by Estella Portillo Trambley, will be read at 7:30 p.m.

"The Promise" draws on the history and spiritual traditions of Puerto Rico and includes an evil rooster, an old man who grows younger and a girl-woman possessed by the spirit of her dead husband. Playwright Rivera is a member of New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre and won the Foundation of the Dramatists Guild/Columbia Broadcasting System new play award in 1983 for a production of his work, "The House of Ramon Iglesia."

In "Passion," a mother and daughter desire the same man while the family patriarch looks on helplessly. Other works by Cuban-born Simo, who has been writing plays since 1977, include "Exiles," a multi-media musical, and "Pickaxe," about Leon Trotsky.

"Blacklight" focuses on Nacho, a character seeking redemption from a haunted past who turns to Itzamna, the god of Night and Day, before Nacho's son becomes involved in the struggle. Trambley, who was born in El Paso, is a poet, short-story writer and playwright and she is regarded as "one of the foremost contemporary Hispanic writers," according to SCR officials.

Her published works include "Rain of Scorpions," a 1977 book consisting of short stories and a novella, and "Impressions of a Chicana," a 1974 collection of haiku poems.

Plays receiving private readings are "The Death and Life of Luis Rodriquez" by Bernardo Solano; "Middle Gray" by Sam Garcia Jr., and "The Judas Goat" by Alfred Lopez.

The Latino writers' project also will present a free public seminar by Maria Irene Fornes, who conducts a New York City program for new Latino playwrights.

Tickets are $5 for the public readings and can be purchased at the repertory box office at 655 Town Center Drive, or by telephone with a major credit card by calling (714) 957-4033.

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