GALA’s new artistic director Gustavo Ott makes first DC appearance

The playwright and longtime GALA Hispanic Theatre collaborator will assume leadership in January 2024.

GALA Hispanic Theatre held a press conference on Monday, December 4, to introduce playwright and journalist Gustavo Ott as incoming artistic director. GALA’s board of directors selected Ott to succeed Founding Artistic Director Hugo Medrano, who passed away in 2023 after leading the award-winning Spanish-language theater for nearly a half-century and spearheading the organization’s move to its current home at the historic Tivoli Theatre in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.

In prepared remarks delivered in both English and Spanish, Ott noted that Hugo had been his mentor, teacher, and friend since 1991. “I am here to build on Hugo’s vision,” he told an audience of journalists, theater leaders, and members of the diplomatic community from Nicaragua, Spain, and Cuba. Ott will officially begin his tenure at GALA on January 15, 2024.

Gustavo Ott at GALA Hispanic Theatre December 4, 2023. DC Theater Arts photo.

GALA Hispanic Theatre names Gustavo Ott new producing artistic director

Acclaimed playwright and founder of Teatro San Martín in Venezuela will lead nation’s leading Latino theater, succeeding GALA’s visionary founder Hugo Medrano.

(News story originally published November 14, 2023)

GALA Hispanic Theatre announced that its Board of Directors has selected Gustavo Ott as its next Producing Artistic Director. A native of Venezuela, Ott has over 15 years of experience working in the United States. He was the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Teatro San Martín and Fiesta: International Theatre Festival in Caracas, Venezuela, and most recently was the Executive Artistic Director of Teatro Dallas in Texas. Ott succeeds the late Hugo Medrano, GALA co-founder, who guided the organization for 47 years. As of January 1, 2024, Ott joins Executive Director and GALA co-founder, Rebecca Medrano, in leading the theater in the next stage of its service to artists and community.

Gustavo Ott. Photo courtesy of GALA Hispanic Theatre.

“I have been very close to GALA since 1991,” states Ott. “I confess that, with GALA, everything always feels the same as it was with my theater in Caracas: a family, intimate, funny, supportive, but also political, engaging, community-driven, like lifelong friends dreaming up meaningful projects, fabricating touching fantasies. So today, continuing at GALA is a creative and passionate responsibility, a personal inevitability. I know very well what this legacy means. With Rebecca and Abel López, I see clearly where I’m headed. And with them, who could doubt it, the eyes of my friend Hugo reminding me that between us there is no meeting that doesn’t end with a smile.”

“We are thrilled that Gustavo will join the GALA family as our new Producing Artistic Director,” states GALA Board Chair Cristina King Miranda. “His artistry, knowledge of the Spanish, Latin American, and American dramaturgy, and his commitment to artists, community, and international exchange made him our unanimous choice to succeed our visionary founder, Hugo Medrano.” “Gustavo’s experience,” added Rebecca Medrano, ”as a playwright, director, and arts administrator in the United States, Spain, and Latin America will enhance our efforts to commission new work and strengthen relationships with Latino artists throughout the world.”

Gustavo Ott is a playwright, fiction writer, translator, and journalist. For 20 years, he was Executive Artistic Director of Teatro San Martín and Fiesta: International Theatre Festival in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2023, he was named the Executive Artistic Director of Teatro Dallas in Texas. He has directed more than 40 plays; has written over 50 plays; and has been translated into 15 languages: English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Danish, Greek, Russian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Japanese, Galician, Catalan and Creole. He has translated into Spanish plays by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Orson Welles, David Mamet, Daniel McIvor, Frank Loesser/Jo Swerling/Abe Burrows, Lisa Loomer, Rosemary Frisino Toohey, and Karen Zacarías.

GALA has produced seven of his plays: the musical The Return of Eva Perón- Momia en el clóset, which GALA commissioned and was nominated for the Charles McArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical at the 2009 Helen Hayes Awards; La foto, Señorita y Madame; Tu ternura Molotov; Pavlov: Dos segundos antes del crimen; Nunca dije que era un niña buena; and Divorciadas, evangélicas y vegetarianas. Ott has also directed two productions at GALA. A new version of The Return of Eva Perón will be produced by GALA in May 2024.

Mr. Ott participated in the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa (1993), the New Work Now Program at the Public Theater in New York (2002 and 2003); the Residence Internationale Aux Recoilets (2006, Paris); the Cité Internationale des Artes de Paris Residency (2010); and the Playwriting Program La Mousson D’Ete and La Mousson a Paris in the Comedie Française.

Among his playwriting awards are the Tirso de Molina International Playwriting Prize (Spain, 1998); Ricardo López Aranda International Playwriting Prize (Spain, 2003); Venezuelan Ministry of Culture Theater Prize (2007); Third Prize IDB Award “Hispanics in USA” (Washington, DC, 2010); and the FATEX Award for Playwriting (Spain, 2012). Other awards include the Apacuana National Playwriting Award (Venezuela, 2015); Aguijón Theater’s Hispanic Playwriting Award (Chicago, 2016); Marius Gottin Playwriting Award 2018 (Martinique/France) for Best Non-Francophone play; Trasnocho Playwriting Award (Venezuela, 2017 & 2020); Luis Brito García Literary Award (Caracas, 2014): Panama’s Escenas Award (Best Play of 2007); and Best Play Yakumo Festival 2007 (Japan).

GALA Hispanic Theatre is the National Center for Latino Performing Arts in the nation’s capital, fostering an understanding and appreciation of Latino arts and culture by a large and diverse public.

GALA preserves and promotes Latino arts and culture and shares this rich Hispanic heritage through its diverse performing arts programs, using theater as a vehicle for social change. By developing, producing, and presenting works that explore the breadth of Latino performing arts with its company of bilingual artists, GALA provides opportunities for the Latino artist, educates youth, and engages the entire community in an exchange of ideas and perspectives.


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