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WORDS THAT BURN: A Dramatization of WWII Experiences
                                      of William Stafford, Lawson Inada, and
                                      Guy Gabaldón in Their Own Words

Written and Co-produced by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Directed by Gemma Whelan

Winner of the 2017 Oregon Book Award

Words That Burn Composite.jpg

Photo: © Russell J Young   

Left to right: Paul Susi, Todd Van Voris, Anthony Green

Through a blend of poetry and monologue, this dramatic work reveals how three historical figures—conscientious objector William Stafford, Japanese-American internee Lawson Inada, and East L.A. marine Guy Gabaldón—galvanized language to discover liberation during “the good war.”


"There are two aspects of this piece that I find particularly noteworthy. Though the research for the piece involved independent sources, the playwright elected to have all of the men participate in the telling of each of their stories. The dramatic implication of this strategy is to imply that all three men were equally affected by World War II: the pacifist Stafford as much as the gung-ho Marine Gabaldón and the incarcerated Inada... The second noteworthy aspect is the sensitive selection of episodes and writings contained in each of their stories. The precise selection of anecdotes and facts affirms what I suspect was the playwright’s intent: to include this disparate group of men (by ethnicity and inclination) into one unified group equally affected by a very bloody and hard-won war. I found the piece both evocative and informative."

—EDIT VILLARREAL, Judge, 2017 Oregon Book Award for Drama

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Listen to an abridged version of WORDS THAT BURN here.

Productions and Podcasts

2014—Premiere: Produced by Los Porteños at Milagro Theatre in Portland, OR 

2017: Produced by Merc Playhouse in Twisp, WA 

2017: Produced by Literary Arts at Linkville Playhouse in Klamath Falls, OR 

2018: Recorded by OPB for Literary Arts' Archive Project 

Photo: Karen Weliky

Photo: Karen Weliky


Written and Co-produced by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Directed by Gemma Whelan

Co-produced with CoHo Productions

Through the dramatization of poetry with live music, movement and projection, this dynamic choreopoem explores the global oppression of women and testifies to their resilience. In the Name of Forgotten Women is, in essence, a ceremony to restore the Feminine in the world.

Photo: © Karen Weliky

Left to right: Hannah Edelson, Naiya Amilcar. Eleanor Amorós, Melanie Moseley, Kristin Robinson, Mini Sharma-Ogle, Dre Slaman

“Sometimes art approaches the urgency of the moment so befittingly that one cannot help but feel its import. Such is the case with the choreopoem In the Name of Forgotten Women written by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez. I am profoundly heartened that these women, and this undaunted author who has resurrected their stories, refuse to be silenced. What a gift, and an opportunity, for all of us. Brave terrain, indeed.”                      DANIELLE VERMETTE, Oregon Arts Watch

In the Name of Forgotten Women employs a variety of art forms simultaneously—live music, poetry, dance, singing, projections—to create a vibrant call to action. While [the work] is not without joy, it refuses to let audiences passively accept the horrors it depicts. Hope is part of what makes this activist theater at its finest."                                                                  SARA GIZA, Willamette Week

Productions and Readings

2022Full Production: CoHo Productions in Portland, OR

2019Staged Reading: Milagro in Portland, OR

2019—Concert Reading: Produced by Wellspring in Twisp, WA


Written by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Directed by Olga Sanchez

Music by Gerardo Calderón

Produced for the 2012 GEMELA Conference

Sponsored by Portland State University

Dialogue of Flower and Song

Set mostly in 15th-century Mexico, the play re-imagines a historic Mesoamerican literary event that took place around 1490.  In the original Dialogue of Flower & Song, seven poet-kings from rival chiefdoms gathered to discuss the meaning of poetry, or "flower and song." 


Not so in this re-imagining where boundaries of time, space, and gender are crossed. The host of the original dialogue—poet-king Tecayehuatzin—returns from the Land of the Fleshless to invite three female poets from pivotal points in Mexico's history—15th-century poet-princess Macuilxochitzin from Tenochtitlan, 17th-century poet-nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz from Nueva España, and photojournalist Diana from the contemporary Mexican Diaspora—to a "do-over." The women must debate the purpose of poetry and wrestle with what it means to "be impeccable." The winner of the debate may be able to alter the course of history. There is nothing anti-war war correspondent Diana would like to do more than redo a secret from her past.

Photo: © Russell J Young

Left to right: Musician Gerardo Calderón, Phil Stockton, Sofia May-Cuxim. Nicole Accuardi, Alex Leigh Ramirez, Rafael Miguel

Projected image of Diego Delascio

Productions and Podcasts

2012—Staged Reading: Produced by the University of Portland at Milagro Theatre

                                           in Portland, OR for the 2012 GEMELA Conference  

                                           (Spanish & Latin American Women’s Studies—pre-1800 Conference)

2008—Podcast:               Produced by Maine Humanities in Freeport, ME

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