Max Ferrá, the founding artistic director of New York City's INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, which produces the work of Latino playwrights, passed away February 4 in Miami at the age of 79, according to the New York Times.
From its inception until 2004, he remained the driving force behind the company's artistic and organizational development. Under his leadership, INTAR became an outstanding Latino artistic institution in the United States, gaining worldwide recognition for its contribution to cross-cultural understanding and the pursuit of excellence, not only in the theatrical world but also in the visual arts.
Among the leading Latino voices to develop work at INTAR are Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, Lisa Loomer, Migdalia Cruz, Josefina Lopez, Eduardo Machado, Cherrie Moraga, Edwin Sanchez, Milcha Sanchez-Scott, and José Rivera, among many others.
Born in central Cuba July 14, 1937, Mr. Ferrá left the country in 1958. In the mid-1960s, he and seven others started INTAR, which originally produced plays written in Spanish. The company later produced works in English.
In a 2004 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Ferrá said, “I realized there were a bunch of young Latino playwrights coming of age who were writing plays in English that had a Hispanic essence, but there was no arena for them.”
Mr. Ferrá produced over 150 works by both emerging and established Latino playwrights from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain. As a stage director, he directed over 80 plays at INTAR, as well as in other venues, both in the U.S. and throughout Latin America.
In 1987 Mr. Ferrá joined forces with Broadway choreographer Graciela Daniele to create Tango Apasionado, a musical adaptation of the stories of Jorge Luis Borges that played the Westbeth Theater Center in Manhattan. “How could I forget this man?” Daniele told the Times. “His passion, his energy, he was like Don Quixote fighting windmills. He would just keep on going if he believed in something and if it helped Latino artists.”
Though he moved to Miami in 2004, Mr. Ferrá never retired. Since 2006, he was director of the Actors’ Arena Theater Program at the North Campus of the Miami Dade College.
In 2004 the producer and director told the Times, “We have created the Latino playwright in this country. They exist, they have a voice.”
Mr. Ferrá is survived by his life partner, Winston Gonzalez; and his sister, Teresa Lopez.