Diane Rodriguez, whose career was immersed in the Los Angeles theater community, died Friday of cancer at age 68, according to her representative.
Rodriguez was an actress, director, playwright and producer, and later the book writer for the Broadway style musical Barbie Live!, creative and cultural consultant for the Disney Television Animation series Elena of Avalor.
Her career began in 1973 when she joined Luis Valdez’s El Teatro Campesino. She went on to become associate artistic director for Center Theatre Group, and worked with theatres and artists across the country, as well as internationally; president of the Theatre Communications Group Board.
Rodriguez was associate artistic director at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, where she was a member of the artistic staff for 24 years, overseeing new play production and developing the new work of over 75 artists, both playwrights and companies, including the plays Straight White Men”by Young Jean Lee, The White Album by Lars Jan, Venice is Dead by Roger Guenveur Smith and Richard Montoya, and How to Be a Rock Critic by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen.
She was inducted into The College of Fellows for the American Theatre in 2018, and appointed by President Obama to the NEA’s National Council on the Arts. She was president of the Theatre Communications Group Board from 2013–2016. She was a 2017 Directing Fellow for Sundance Theatre Lab in Arles, France, and the 2016 Directing Fellow for the Stage Directors and Choreographer’s Foundation.
She curated and produced, with REDCAT, “RADAR LA,” an international theatre festival in 2011 and 2013. She directed for numerous theatre companies, including East West Players, South Coast Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, City Theatre in Pittsburgh, Mixed Blood in Minneapolis, Actors Theatre of Phoenix (two Best Director nominations, ariZoni Theatre Awards), Borderlands Theater in Arizona, Victory Gardens in Chicago and Playwrights’ Arena/Los Angeles (Best Director nomination, LA Weekly Awards), among others.
For 10 seasons, she was a leading actress for the seminal theatre company El Teatro Campesino, with whom she toured nationally and internationally. She was also a cofounder of the ground- breaking comedy troupe, Latins Anonymous.
Recently, she directed the world premiere of “Las Mujeres Del Mar” for Playwrights’ Arena in 2019, Culture Clash’s “Bordertown Now” at Pasadena Playhouse and Richard Cabral’s “Fighting Shadows” at Inner City Arts, both in 2018. Her play “Living Large” premiered at Teatro Luna in 2012 and “The Sweetheart Deal” premiered in 2017 at Los Angeles Theatre Center.
She is survived by her husband, Jose Delgado, owner of Pleiades Management and producing director of Ojai Playwrights Conference; her mother, Helen E. Rodriguez of San Jose, her niece, Gabrielle E. Fusco, nephew Mario J. Fusco, and brother-in-law, Gary Fusco. No memorial plans have been announced.