Natanael Payán

Natanael Payán, Undergraduate student, theatre arts

Brings identity to center stage

Nat excels against all odds. Nat has overcome incredible adversity to become one of our finest undergraduate playwrights. Nat does this with humility, generosity, and compassion  -Lisa Schlesinger, professor

Rippey, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Lisa Schlesinger, MFA, professor and co-head of Playwrights Workshop, Department of Theatre Arts, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Bachelor’s in theatre arts, 2024

Please describe your research:
I research and write plays that focus on identity and society within the current political climate and culture. I research countless bills that impact social inequality, mainly, bills that affect Latines and Latine immigration, queer/trans people, those affected by addiction, intersectionality, and the impact these bills have on people.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
Marginalized communities and ostracized groups have been under attack and misunderstood in this country since its conception. My ultimate goal is to influence others to see differently. I truly believe art has the power to bring people together and incite change, whether it be societal or legislative.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I started dabbling in it my second year but I didn’t really dive into it until my third year.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
This research has opened my eyes and made me realize how far behind we are as a collective. Thankfully, I’ve grown exponentially through this research as a person, student, and artist. However, I’d like to see that growth spread far and wide, and not only—for myself—but for everyone.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
I hope to continue my research and write as much as I can, submitting my work to as many places as possible. Eventually, I’d like to go back to school and earn an MFA in playwriting, possibly even a PhD later down the line. Ultimately, I’d love to be a professor and inspire other aspiring playwrights to make art that can uplift and aid communities.

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