undocumented and they never really thought about what their parents gave up for them to have lives in America. Others shared that seeing this play made them want to write, that they never thought writing was a possibility for them until now.

TS: I want to ask you about collaborating with Jo Bonney, the director. What made you want to work with her? HB: Jo Bonney is one of the directors I fell in love with when I first moved to New York. Her work is grounded, yet theatrical. She understands nuance and naturalism, yet allows the story to inform the theatricality. Trying to find a director for this play was really complicated, and I had to ask myself a lot of hard questions about the needs of the play, representation, and my own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, I really wanted to work with a seasoned director who has incredible mastery of craft. Jo really has no stakes in this other than wanting to honor these characters and this story.

TS: Can you talk a bit about the choice of making Billy a Unitarian minister? Why was that important to you? HB: When your father is a minister, you spend a lot of Sundays at church. I have very vivid memories of watching him sit at the kitchen table writing a sermon all week, quietly muttering it to himself around the house. He’s a very gentle and thoughtful man, much like Billy, who’s always believed there’s a place at the table for everyone.

The Sanctuary movement originated in Tucson, Arizona in the 1980s when Central Americans were fleeing brutal wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. The Reagan Administration passed policies aimed at preventing these refugees from claiming asylum and instead labeled them as “economic migrants.” Many denominations (Presbyterians, Unitarians, Catholics, Jewish, Quakers) started harboring these people so they wouldn’t be deported to certain death. The Unitarian Church in Tucson is incredibly active in protecting migrants. They work with the non-profit organization called No Mas Muertes that provides humanitarian aid for people crossing the border.

Billy found Anita and her infant son close to death when he was doing humanitarian work with the Unitarian Church in the desert. He nursed her back to health, they fell madly in love, and they’ve never looked back. Despite all the obstacles they go through. That’s what ultimately makes this play a great love story.

Jacqueline Guillén, Tyler Alvarez, and

Triney Sandoval in 72 Miles to Go... Photo: Jeremy Daniel

TS: How did you come up with Billy’s relationship with his stepson Christian? HB: I grew up in a house with all boys. I have three brothers and three stepbrothers. My stepdad was such a big part of day-to-day life with my brothers, and I watched them maneuver this complicated dynamic. I think the relationship between Billy and Christian is about how these two men—who deeply love and need each other—navigate a father/ son relationship when it’s not blood that bonds them. Obviously, for Christian it’s a devastating betrayal when he learns Billy isn’t his biological father and that he’s undocumented. Christian’s journey over the play, as he becomes a father, is realizing that he would do for his wife and kids everything Billy did. I think Billy truly thought amnesty was going to happen. Why tell his kid he can’t have his dream when he might be able to have his dream? And Billy has to reconcile the reality of the world that he’s living in with how he raised his son.

TS: What keeps you inspired as an artist? HB: I believe what is happening to undocumented people is the human rights issue of this generation. I believe, as someone privileged enough to have a voice and a platform, I carry a responsibility to do everything in my power to shed light on this. Marsha Norman constantly told us, “Attention must be paid.” That is our responsibility as writers. This is what attention must be paid to right now in America.

TS: Do you have any advice for a young person who says they want to write for stage or screen? HB: There’s the old adage, “Write what you know.” I used to hate it because it seemed so counter to imagination. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s less about being literal and more about writing the parts of yourself that scare you the most. What makes you vulnerable? What do you struggle with deep down? I think a lot of writers who are just starting out, and I speak from experience, their first instinct is to lash out at the world. Or try to be clever or trendy or commercial or flashy. When you find the courage and humility to put that stuff aside, and write from the deepest and most empathetic and honest parts of yourself, that’s when you’ll tap into the stories only you can write. It’s also important to learn how to have discipline. For me, the difference between being an amateur and a professional was learning how to write when the last thing I want to do is write—which is often.•



Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24