Gustavo Ott

Ott Head Shot

In 1988 “Teatro Cinco” was published in Venezuela with the plays LOS PECES CRECEN CON LA LUNA (RED SKY AT NIGHT, 1983), EL SIGLO DE LAS LUCES (1986), and PASSPORT (1988), which explores the loss of identity due to arbitrariness and lack of communication. Ott’s stage premiere, by the group Textoteatro, came in 1989 with DIVORCÉES, EVANGELISTS, AND VEGETARIANS.  The 1991 premiere of PAVLOV: TWO SECONDS BEFORE THE CRIME, showcased Ott’s hallmark cruel and unusual humor. GALA’s (Washington, D.C.) production of this play in 1995, under the direction of Abel Lopez, marked Ott’s debut on the American stage.

During those years, Ott wrote plays with social issues for wide audiences, with pieces like WHOEVER SAID I WAS A GOOD GIRL? (1992), a play on youth gang violence, also produced in the U.S. by GALA. With GOOD GIRL, Ott founded the Teatro San Martín de Caracas (TSMC), while that same year Madrid’s Cuarta Pared inaugurated its Lavapies Theater with PASSPORT, directed by Javier Yagüe. LINDA GATITA (MINOR LEAGUES) also opened that year, chronicling the search for affection in relations between North and South America. THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU (QUIÉREME MUCHO) followed at TSMC (1993), with parallel stories of immigration and love in two different generations symmetrically structured as an Escher painting. It opened in Caracas in 1994 directed by the author.

In 1996 Avispa Editorial (Madrid) published two volumes with six plays covering Ott’s early work. In 1997 Las Piezas Del Mal was published in Caracas, collecting PAVLOV: 2 SECONDS BEFORE CRIME (1986), a play about crime, media and conditional reflexes, FORDITAS (FAT CHICKS, 1993), and CORAZÓN PORNOGRÁFICO (1995).

In 1996 Ott began his most important group of plays to that date, which he called Pentagram, comprised of five plays in what he dubbed “the Latin American macabre style.” These include COMEGATO (1997) a work on the dilemma between decency and crime and staged in Caracas in 1998 directed by the author, FOTOMATÓN (1995), an autopsy of the Latin American soul, staged in Caracas in 1999 and directed by the author, 80 TEETH, 4 FEET & 500 POUNDS (1996), an epic piece on the subject of guilt, TRES ESQUELETOS Y MEDIO (1997), a play on the macabre intersection between transcendence and the criminal present, stageD in Caracas in 2000 and directed by the author; and MISS (1999) an epic piece on Latin American ambition, staged in Caracas in 2002 and directed by the author.

In 2002 Casa de América in Madrid published DOS AMORES Y UN BICHO (TWO LOVES AND A CREATURE), a play that inaugurated a new period in Ott’s style. This play about hatred was quickly translated to English, French, German, and Creole, and premiered in Caracas in 2004, under direction of the author.  As DEUX AMORES ET UNE PETITE BETTE, the play opened in December 2003 in Lyon, France.

That same year, Ott’s one-man show BANDOLERO Y MALASANGRE (BRIGAND ET FILOU) translated by Françoise Thanas, premiered in Potiers, France, by Scene Nationale and later opened in Catalan by the group Diverbia in Valencia, Spain. Conjunto (Cuba) published the play in 2004.

Also in 2002 and 2003, Ott was Chosen to participate in the “New Work Now!” program at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York, with 80 TEETH… and TWO LOVES AND A CREATURE, both translated into English by Heather McKay.  He was also selected for the Playwriting Program of La Mousson D’Ete in France and La Mousson a Paris in the Comedie Française, for PHOTOMATON, translated by Françoise Thanas and directed by Michel Didym.

Also in 2004, in Santander, Spain, YOUR MOLOTOV KISSES, a play on the interrelation of intolerance and terrorism, was published. MOLOTOV… premiered the same year in the Teatro Cuyás of la Palma on Grand Canary Island, and also in Argentina (CELCIT, 2006), and has been performed in Mexico (Teatro Xola, DF, 2006), Portugal (AL-MaSRAH Teatro, Algarve), Washington, D.C. (GALA, 2008), Colombia (Teatro Nacional, 2008), California (Teatro de las Américas, 2008), Athens (2012), and Marseille, France (Theatre de Lenche,2012).  It was also selected to be performed at  The Kitchen Dog Theater of Dallas as part of the theater’s “New Plays” stage reading program in 2007.

In 2006 Ott opened his first comedy in 10 years, PONY, on deception and the elections process. That same year, the Quartiers D´Ivry program in Paris presented DEUX AMOURS… and PHOTOMATON, stage readings directed by Elizabeth Chailloux. 120 LIVES MINUTE, a piece on catastrophe and the meaning of art and country, premiered in Caracas, under direction of the author in 2007, following the English production at Ohio Northern University, directed by Otto Minera.

In 2008 Spain’s Asociación de Autores de Teatro published MONSTRUOS EN EL CLOSET, OGROS BAJO LA CAMA (mONSTERS IN THE CLOSET, OGRES UNDER THE BED) a piece on the victims of 9/11, while Mexico’s Paso de Gato published PASSPORT in its Cuadernos de Dramaturgia Internacional. That same year,  Lagoudera Publishers in Athens published YOUR MOLOTOV’S KISSES translated by Stamatis Polenakis and CHAT (2008), a play about collective perversity in virtual communication, translated by Stamatis Polenakis, D. Siuva, Cleopatra Eleotriviari, S. Cufopulu, A. Sarafi, C. Tsocalidu and I. Lasopulu.

CHAT opened at the Teatro San Martín de Caracas in April 2009, while GALA’s Tivoli Theatre saw the premiere of Ott’s musical MUMMY IN THE CLOSET: THE RETURN OF EVA PERÓN (2008), on the beginnings of the macabre and dirty war in South America.

FOTOMATÓN was included in the Performing Arts Marathon 2009 of Teatro IATI in New York, and YOUR MOLOTOV’S KISSES PONY, both directed by John Rodaz were performed in both Spanish and English at the Arena Stage in Miami. In 2009 under the direction of Tlaloc Rivas, CUNY staged a reading of MISS AND MADAME (2008), which explores hatred and admiration during the twentieth century through the rivalry between Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. This play has been translated to English and French and was premiered at the Teatro San Martín de Caracas in 2010, winning Best Play Award (Premio Municipal de Teatro-Dramaturgia). Also, in French, MISS AND MADAME (MADEMOISELLE ET MADAME) was presented at Limoges Festival (Limosin, Francia, 2010), and selected to participate at the Mardis Midi Program by Theatre du Rond Point in Paris (2011) both directed by Daniel Gouchard.

In 2010 he recieved the 3rd BID Award “Hispanics in the USA” for JUANITA CLAXTON (2007) translated into English by Heather Mckay.  The play is about the necessity of being rescued using the 2005 Hurricane Katrina as a metaphor. In 2011 LÍRICA (2010) was premiered at the Teatro San Martín de Caracas, a play about poetry and friendship as an antidote for hatred and violence.

Also, in the 2011, Monte Avila Editores published Gustavo’s first fiction novel Yo No Sé Matar, Pero Voy A Aprender (I Don´t Know How to Kill, But I Will Learn). As a novelist he also won the Salvador Garmendia Fiction Novel Award 2011 for Ella No Merece Ninguna Piedad.

Meriwether Publishing in the U.S. has published selections from Ott’s plays in English – translated by Heather McKay – in Audition Monologs for Student Actors (1999), International Plays for Young Audiences (2000), Audition Monologs for Student Actors II (2001), and New Audition Scenes and Monologues from Contemporary Playwrights: The Best New Cuttings From Around the World (2003, 2005 and 2007).

Ott has won other awards, including: Juana Sujo (Caracas, 1990); the McLaren Comedy Playwriting Competition (Finalist), for I TAWT I TAW A PUTTY CAT (USA, 1995); Puerto Rico’s Critics’ Award, for LOS PECES CRECEN CON LA LUNA; Best Play, Karzinbarcika Festival (Hungary) and Liverpool Festival (Canada) for PAVLOV; Best Play, MB-Prague Festival 2003 for PASSPORT; Best Play, Yakumo Festival 2007 (Japan) for WET DOG WAITING (BANDOLERO Y MALASANGRE; Venezuela’s Writers’ Circle Award (2001) and First Runner-up, Princess Grace Award-New York (2001) for 80 TEETH, 4 FEET & 500 POUNDS; CELCIT Award (2002) for 80 DIENTES…; Miss and Panama’s Escenas Award (Best Play of 2007) for “DIVORCIADAS, EVANGÉLICAS Y VEGETARIANAS;  from 1990 six Municipal Theater Awards (Caracas, Venezuela), including Best Director in 1998; and the 2016 Aguijón Theater Playwriting Award in Chicago for BRUTALITY.

Ott’s plays have been translated into English, Portuguese, German, French, Danish, Greek, Russian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Japanese,  Galician, Catalan and Creole.