Charise Castro Smith is an American playwright, actress, television writer, producer, and co-director who made her film debut in the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Encanto. Centered on a Colombian girl who lacks magical powers in spite of her family having them, she co-directed the film alongside Zootopia co-director Byron Howard and co-wrote the screenplay alongside Jared Bush.
In 2008, Castro Smith’s first play Estrella Cruz [The Junkyard Queen] was produced at the Yale Cabaret, and was later produced at the Ars Nova ANT Fest in New York City and at the Halcyon Theater in Chicago. The play is a Cuban-American twist of a Greek myth of the goddess Persephone set in the 21st century. In 2011, Smith's play Boomcracklefly was produced at the Milgaro Theater in Portland, Oregon. In 2014, her play The Hunchback of Seville was produced by the Washington Ensemble Theatre in Seattle.
Acclaimed as a "gleefully revisionist riff on rampaging colonialism," The Hunchback of Seville was inspired by Smith's interest in how Americans handle the history of Columbus and the massacres that resulted from his actions. The complex character of Queen Isabella stems from Smith's own desire to play Richard III in Shakespeare's Richard III. Smith's most produced work, Feathers and Teeth, was featured at the Goodman Theater’s New Stage Festival (2013-2014). Inspired by Hamlet, 1970s horror films, and Jon Ronson's book "The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry," Feathers and Teeth centers on a 13-year-old girl who loses her mom and thinks her new step-mother is a demon.
As with Smith's other plays, Feathers and Teeth features a complex, "crazy" female lead in an eccentric and comedic play. Ultimately, Smith's goal was to use horror as a way to help others understand the human experience of obsession and fear. The play was later produced at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Castro Smith's most recent work El Huracán, featured at the DNA New Work Series at La Jolla Playhouse, is described as loosely connected to the ideas of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
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