Theatre Arts Professor and Head of the Graduate Playwriting Department of Columbia University, Eduardo Machado was part of an interesting and rather bizarre footnote to history. In 1961 the Peter Pan Project, organized by a Catholic bishop in Miami with the cooperation of the CIA, brought 13,000 children of Cuba's elite to the United States on Pan Am flights, the expressed purpose being to save them from Castro and communism.
This project entailed a relentless propaganda campaign on the part of the Voice of America to convince parents that their children would be sent to Moscow for retraining by Fidel Castro if they did not send them to America. The mass exodus and break-up of families took place with the tacit consent of Fidel Castro.
Machado was one of these children, and arrived in the U.S. at age eight, speaking no English, when his family fled Castro's Cuba. Brought up in Los Angeles, he now divides his time between a house in suburban Pasadena, Calif., and an apartment in Manhattan. A would-be actor, he began writing plays when a therapist suggested he compose an imaginary letter of forgiveness to his mother.
Machado started his career as an actor in Los Angeles, where he was part of an ensemble that presented the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, and studied playwriting with Maria Irene Fornes. While he was an actor at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Machado held a reading of a one-act play he had written, and received an NEA grant for it.
His play Havana is Waiting is about his return to Cuba. Machado began writing When the Sea Drowns in Sand just after returning to New York from his trip to Cuba as part of the Festival International Del Nuevo Cine Latino Americano. It was the first time he'd been back to Cuba in 40 years.
Machado, who has written 25 plays and wrote and directed the feature film Exiles in New York (1999), has developed his own unique method of teaching playwriting and a large number of his students have gone on to success.
In addition to his writing and teaching, Machado serves as artistic associate of the Cherry Lane Alternative, consulting on all artistic issues pertaining to the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre's non-profit wing. He is also a director of theatre and film.