Daniel M. Jaffe
Leo F. Cabranes-Grant was born on March 31, 1960, in Corozal, Puerto Rico, to María Grant Chacón, one of the first Puerto Rican women to earn a master’s degree (in social work), and Leo Cabranes Álvarez, mayor of Corozal and a leading, progressive Puerto Rican political figure during the 1940s to 1960s. In 1961, the family, including Cabranes-Grant’s two older brothers, moved to Río Piedras, then a suburb of San Juan, where Cabranes-Grant grew into early adulthood.
While concentrating in Hispanic studies at the University of Puerto Rico (B.A., 1983), Cabranes-Grant performed in the chorus of the San Juan Opera and directed student theatrical productions. In 1986 he received a scholarship to pursue graduate study at Harvard University (M.A. in Hispanic studies, Latin American literature, 1987; Ph.D. in Hispanic studies, Golden Age literature, 1996), where his dissertation focused on Renaissance European tragicomedy, particularly the works of Shakespeare and Lope de Vega. Cabranes-Grant directed numerous theatrical productions at Harvard, including plays by Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Strindberg, Beckett, and Shepard.
Although Cabranes-Grant had been writing plays since childhood, it was in 1996 that he wrote the first of his plays to reach the professional stage. A musical comedy, Por el medio…si no hay má s remedio (Take It Easy…But Just Take It) tells the story of Jichi Hernández, a Puerto Rican transvestite and cabaret performer with serious political and ideological convictions. Staged by Joseán Ortiz and the Compañía Teatral Areté and performed at Teatro del Centro de Convenciones del Condado, Por el medio was one of a handful of gay-themed plays performed in Puerto Rico during the mid-1990s. Later that same year,