Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congrats on the launch of Octopus in Its Own Ink (Pulpo En Su Tinta) in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this deeply personal show?
Eduardo Vega: How does a family survive in the grip of tyranny? Octopus is a deep literary dive into the dynamics of dictatorship that reaches into the heart and home of every member of the community. Based on personal stories of oppression and resistance, including my father’s trauma and torture, I wanted to explore how communities and families cope with a toxic environment that might disappear or murder anyone close to you. Octopus is a story of one family, one country, and simultaneously many communities in Latin America where a brutal dictatorship forces its people to make terrifying choices.
BD: As the playwright and director, what can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with the cast and crew to bring this production to life?
EV: This has truly been a collaborative process driven by our cast, who as Latine peoples from many regions, are deeply passionate about the story here. The play has been in development for nearly twenty years, and has had several public readings in its course. As a playwright I knew the right step was a workshop production, to tighten the play and perfect it as a living work for the stage. As a director I engaged our cast first in a substantive dramatic reading process through which I heard their comments and examined the structural, plot, and dialogue improvements to arrive at our final stage script. Then, I put on my director’s hat to switch to staging and scene study, character and action, as well as our intentionally spare design elements. Throughout all this a truly inspiring family has come together to bring the work to its feet for the first time at Hollywood Fringe '23.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that the events of your father’s life may connect with and impact audiences?
EV: The most significant thing I’ve found through years with this work is that so many people connect to the story. Obviously, it hits home for many of us among the Latine diaspora, because so many countries in Latin America experienced (and currently experience) oppressive dictatorships. And Octopus gives voice to that which they survived, and for many fled from. But many other people, as well, see the heroism in their communities, in their legacy, of individuals like my father and other activists, who stood up against tyranny in way they could at the risk of everything including their lives.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for your productions?
EV: Mounting a big play like this one requires a community, a home, and a foundation to bring so many artists together. The Fringe Festival is a uniquely supportive community that is hard to find, and a chance to bring out people who might not be in the regular theater-going crowd. To develop works that established theater companies won’t produce due to their originality, complexity or cast size, etc. Fringe Hollywood is the best possible place in for theater artists to take chances, to go big, and connect with diverse audiences who are eager for things that are new, unusual and difficult in their beauty.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Hudson Theatre in June. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
EV: The vision is to mount a complete professional run as the world premiere in 2024, either in Los Angeles or New York, and we are currently developing these, as well as screen, possibilities with our backers. We are looking into the immediate possibility of extended runs with this cast, as well, depending on audience demand.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
EV: Tinderbox Arts is the artistic partner of Humannovations, which employs actors in community skills training for mental health crisis support, based in equity, compassion, and non-violence. Our upcoming public project, “Activating Hope,” integrates theater arts with communities in the LA area to empower individuals to be there for others and foster dialogue for better health.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Octopus in Its Own Ink (Pulpo En Su Tinta)?
EV: Blending magical realism with historical drama, Octopus employs the unique power of live theater to tell compelling stories. This play about good people in terrible situations is delivered by talented actors who will sweep you into the difficult journey that connects us all. Including adult themes, stage violence, and language, it is not recommended for children under the age of 13. Some Spanish language flavors the show, but knowledge of Spanish is not expected.
Learn more at and purchase tickets here.