Tanya Saracho insists that Fade, a play about, as she puts it, “a first-year TV writer who is out of her league and out of her element,” is really not about her. But she understands why someone might make that assumption.
Saracho—the 41-year-old Teatro Luna cofounder and Victory Gardens ensemble playwright—wrote the two-hander in 2013, the year after she was lured from Chicago to Hollywood. Like Fade’s protagonist, Lucia, Saracho had just landed her first TV gig (Lifetime’s Devious Maids, in Saracho’s case). Both were the only Latinas in the writers’ room. And like Lucia, Saracho befriended the only people in the office who worked as late as she did: Mexican American custodians.
From there, Fade veers from Saracho’s autobiography. Lucia (played by Sari Sanchez, who also stars in Fawzia Mirza’s Signature Move), raised in an upper-class home in Mexico, strikes up winding, sometimes confrontational conversations with Abel (Eddie Martinez), a Los Angeles–born janitor. A tentative friendship develops between the two as they challenge each other’s ideas about identity. “It’s a more modern immigration story than we’re used to,” Saracho says. “Immigrant stories are more complicated now. We’ve been here longer. And we have different pathways of getting here.”
When Fade opens on November 4, Saracho will find herself in a new position, one she didn’t write for Lucia: running her own TV series, which is in development with Starz. “I’ve hired an entirely Latinx team,” says Saracho. “Let us handle our stories, and let us tell our stories. We’ll show you we can do it.”