A fourth generation Tejana from San Antonio, Texas, certified army brat, and fanatic dog-lover, Irma Mayorga holds an M.F.A. in Costume Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Joint Ph.D. in Drama and the Humanities from Stanford University. From Stanford, she also holds the distinction of attaining the first Ph.D. by a Latina/o/x person in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies' history.
Irma is also a director, dramaturg, and award-winning playwright. Her play Cascarones received invitation for development at the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Playwrights Conference and was premiered by lead organization DNAWorks (Daniel Banks and Adam McKinney, co-directors) in collaboration with lead producers Teatro Paraguas (Argos MacCallum, executive director). Her playwriting has also been recognized by the Jane Chambers playwriting competition, PlayPenn, and most recently, her play Golondrinas: a texas story was named a finalist for the 2018 Carnaval of New Latinx Work.
Irma is also always proud to mark that she has served as a cultural worker in numerous people of color-led arts and community organizations including New World Theater, the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
In 2014 the University of Texas Press published a second edition of her play The Panza Monologues (written with collaborator Virginia Grise). The second edition of the play in publication has been crafted as a dramaturgical casebook and unique hybrid text that seeks to intervene in the protocols of play publication. The second edition features both the play's full text along with documentation of its development as well as creative guidance and pedagogical materials to help future producers organize new stagings in a wide variety of communities and settings. As Latinx Studies scholar Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez notes, The Panza Monologues, Second Edition “is the most original and historically documented theatre project to date in Latina/o (sic) theatre...It is a lesson in making theatre matter, and it spotlights how theatre is informed by lived experiences and historical processes….”
The Panza Monologues has enjoyed continuous and innovative productions by itinerate theater companies, universities, and groups of women across the country.
In 2004, she founded the Latina/o Focus Group* of the Association of Higher Education in Theater (ATHE) - the first formal entity within ATHE to place scholarly focus on Latina/o/x theatermaking. She sits on the Advisory Board of the Latinx Theater Commons following five years of rewarding service as an active Steering Committee member. The Latinx Theater Commons (LTC) is an important national movement guided by the principles of a commons-based approach to transform the narrative of the American theater by amplifying the visibility of Latina/o/x performance-making. The field-shifting work of the LTC earned Theatre Communications Group's 2017 Peter Zeisler Memorial Award.**
Her scholarly inquiry examines contemporary theater and performance
by U.S. people of color, theater and performance by women, Chicana/o/x Expressive Culture, and, more broadly, U.S. Latina/o/x identic formations and self-representations.
In 2021, Mayorga was proud to serve as an artist-in-residence at North Hennepin Community College. At NHCC, she directed the inaugural mainstage theater production (Loss/Found, co-created with NHCC students) of the college's "Stages of Equity" initiative, a program that seeks to invest and uplift artist-of-color led projects at NHCC. This bold artistic initiative works to expand and diversify the artistic voices and visions at NHCC in an unblinking effort to address racial inequity, racial awareness, and inclusivity.
She has been an instrumental teaching artist, knowledge worker, thought leader, student-centered changemaker, inspirator, and survivor of departments in Theater and Performance Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies at institutions such as the University of California-Berkeley, Williams College, the University of Texas-San Antonio, Florida State University, Dartmouth College, Grinnell College, and North Hennepin Community College among others.
*To recognize Latinxs' multi-faceted indigenous and African origins and gender identities, this group is now named the "Latinx, Indigenous and the Americas Focus Group."
**This TCG award “recognizes an…organization whose work reflects and promotes the ingenuity and artistic integrity that Peter Zeisler prized. The honoree will exemplify pioneering practices in theatre and will be dedicated to the freedom of expression and unafraid of taking risks for the advancement of the art form.”