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'Everyone Is Grappling With How To Marry These Two Identities': Hilary Bettis On Play '72 Miles To Go'

(CBS Local)-- Hilary Bettis has written multiple plays and done work for several television networks, but her new off-Broadway play "72 Miles To Go" may be her most personal to date.

The play opens March 10 at the Laura Pels Theatre and focuses on Mexican-American identity and how the separation of a mother from her American born husband and family rips into the emotional fabric of their foundation.

"It's been exciting and overwhelming. Getting to work at Roundabout, it's one of the best theaters in the world," said Bettis in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "We're trying together to find what this play is. That has a lot of ups and downs and a lot of sleepless nights. Ultimately, what's most important is that we tell the story of this family with empathy and dignity. I feel like everyone is very passionate about it and everyone's heart is in the story. We want it to be a beautiful theatric experience as well."


Bettis honed her skills as a playwright at The Juilliard School here in New York. The writer has always been fascinated by Mexican-American identity and is thankful that she has the runway to unpack this issue that has impacted her family for generations.

"My grandfather came from a family that believed that you really have to assimilate and be more American than Americans," said Bettis. "You have to cut off this part of your identity. Spanish was his first language, but he tried to hide it from my grandmother and mother. My mother didn't know he spoke Spanish until she was 18. To make that active, conscious choice is heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time. It was always part of how my family thought about and talked about ourselves. How do we be American and embrace this part of who we are. All these characters in the play have very different perspectives of what that means. Everyone in this family is grappling with how to marry these two identities."


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