Mujeres alegres. We are down to our last four meetings. I am very proud and very excited about all the texts we have read, and all the ideas we have shared.
Fefu and her friends was the text we read for last Saturday. The discussion was lively (especially in trying to understand what happens to Julia at the end) and some of the questions had to do with interpreting what Fornes has to say about women and about consciousness; we also tackled whether the text was a feminist, anti-feminist, or simply an all female cast play.
Here are some quotes on Fefu and her friends by a variety of critics. What do you think?:
Repeatedly, Fornes is telling the audience through Fefu and her friends that the brightest women are brought down by madness, whether actual or implied. This is the fate that Fefu desperately wants to avoid, and she seeks refuge from this by pretending to be fine, by hiding within the domestic sphere. Women like Fefu take care of their houses, prepare food for their families and guests, and otherwise behave in a feminine, subservient manner. Sue and Christina are superior examples of domesticated scholars. Fefu is quite the opposite. She tells Cindy and Christina, ‘‘I like being like a man. Thinking like a man. Feeling like a man.’’ Fefu has few avenues for dealing with her problems—a failing marriage and depression—because the world she inhabits prefers to treat women themselves as the problem rather than as human beings who need help. The underlying implication is that ‘‘Woman is not a human being. . . . Woman generates the evil herself.
Fefu and Her Friends challenges our precon- ceptions about life and the theatre through boldly drawn women, temporarily divorced from relationships, trying to sort out the ambi- guities of their lives. Julia’s wound in Fefu is our own. Fornes provides no answers, but her women make startling strides in confronting the oppressive environment of prescribed rela- tionships in art as well as in life.
Fefu shoots Julia rather than her husband Phillip and, in doing so, takes the place of the men in the ‘‘joke’’ who objectify women to the point of annihilation. Notably, in Part One of the play, Julia remarks of Fefu’s use of the gun, ‘‘She’s hurting herself’’; inasmuch as taking up the gun is a male-associated strategy of dom- ination, Julia’s observation is correct. In this Lehrstück, then, Fefu’s male-identification is ultimately as self-destructive and ineffectual a strategy of resistance to women’s subordination within patriarchal culture as Julia’s hysteria.
I can’t wait to share all the updates of the past week. I am so excited for the next few months, I have to control the gritos that bubble up and want to escape out of me every hour! But I only have a minute and so I just wanted to take that minutito to get it out of my system and say how blessed I feel to be a part of this organization. Estoy emocionada. The new girls– some of whom have now been around almost a year, and others who have just joined our ranks– have been the breath of life we needed, and they are my heart right now. The faith of our community, colleagues — near and far– are all humbling. The fact that when faced with tough decisions Miranda and I can call mentors and friends on both the east and west coast for their counsel and support is mind blowing. Imaginate como es to be able to call those you have respected from afar for years and suddenly they take time to advise your organization? That never happened a year ago. I am just so humbled to be part of a movement, and a truly MISSION DRIVEN organization. I am taking a breath before this meeting tonight– a meeting that could change the future of TL for the next few years. I am nervous, excited, and steadfast in my commitment to make this next step happen.
Mil Gracias Chicago, Mil Gracias to the Latino Community here and around the country, and Mil Gracias to anyone who has ever taken even a second to support, promote, or share the work of Teatro Luna. Mil Gracias to those before me who imagined this place into existence with their blood sweat and tears. Mil Gracias.
First Company Meeting of the new season, and boy are there things to talk about at this meeting! And I am so superdeduper excited because three new girls that we are quickly falling in love with will be joining our meetings! I don’t really have much to say except that I wanted to document my excitement at the first meeting of the new season. Its a nice milestone and follow up to our great season kick off event (photos/vido blog coming soon)! So much is changing at Teatro Luna— so many new hurdles (CCPA– more on that soon) and on and on that we haven’t been able to fully RE-LAUNCH as promised.
I was cast in my first play when I was 18. I played a chorus member in Bloodline: The Oedipus/Antigone Story with 13th Tribe, directed by Joanna Settle at the Viaduct Theater. It was my first and only classical theater experience I have ever had. It was also the best theater experience I could ask for. I watched the director work with the actors and I was instantly drawn. I would purposely arrive during the principal actors call time just to sit and watch the creative process unfold. I was boldly stung by the theater bug and have been entranced by its elixir ever since. So when the opportunity came to be a part of a collective ensemble of Latinas, I jumped at the opportunity. At that time I had no idea that my passion for theater would expose my love for social activism.
I am a founding ensemble member of Teatro Luna and am now the Director of Artistic Development (DAD), funny how being a part of an all female organization leads with a patriarchal acronym. My role is to maintain the integrity of the mission, aesthetic and social impact Teatro Luna creates through and with the artistic collective.
2. How do you envision your “theater aesthetic” or how do you define your theatrical practice?
Because I was first introduced to a stage as a performer of dance and song with The Happiness Club, my aesthetic is driven by rhythm. I hear dialogue in measures and I see movement as its metronome. The entire piece should warrant the audience to react to the beat. Experiencing the theatrics of the text should allow the audience to emotionally move about freely allowing the rhythm to take them. So when it comes to my theatrical practice, I approach it with movement and treat the dialogue as song.
3. How did you get involved in NS Plays?
The North/South concept was introduced to the company’s Executive Director, Alex Meda by Brian LaDucca who is now the Exective Director of Bailiwick Chicago. Alex brought the idea of co-production/co-development to the ensemble (we make decisions as a collective) and asked if the idea was something we were interested in. And, we were. Alex asked who would like to develop and/or direct the concept, and I volunteered (the ensemble felt I was the right person for the job and supported my want to do it). Thus, my involvement began as a lead co-developer/co-director!
4. What is the most exciting thing about this project?
The most exciting thing about this project is the amount of knowledge I and everyone in the project will gain; the personal and artistic.
5. What would you say is the most frustrating thing about this project?
The most frustrating part is gaining trust and being trusted. Because we (TL) had ensemble members that worked together and were committed to one another for years, nurturing trust in the new artists aesthetic and vision in such a short period amount of time created pressure, as well as getting used the fact that there was a large male presence in the room. We had to mesh our aesthetics into one. Las Lunaticas had become accustomed to our style of vignettes. Through auto-biographical and interview-based projects we enjoy the art of story-telling and our fan-base has grown because of that form. Bailiwick’s plays are told mostly musically through straight narratives. How do we mesh our different forms together and trust that it will work? Writing ethnographic pieces with repeating narratives was challenging, but I think its been worth it. We’ll see when the production is up!
6. Any thoughts/nuggets/or advice to others who are considering or currently developing work in a collaborative format between companies?
My advice to other companies considering working in a collaborative setting is this:
- Be flexible
- Recognize that you are acting as a part of a team
- Listen, Listen, Listen,
- Allow the process to creatively move forward
- Remember the development process is about playing and having fun
- Be honest about how the project is going for each company.
- Check your egos at the door and treat everyone as an equal.
Teatro Luna’s Season 11 is dedicated to topics surrounding immigration and boards. Some of the projects include: a new play by award winning Diane Rodriguez, a devised work surrounding immigrant stories, new touring shows, and a new youth program. Also in development for Season 12 is Putas! a play written by Ensemble Member Liza Ann Acosta, and A National Latina Solo Festival!. I will be performing in Putas which is slated for the fall of 2012. These are exciting times!!!!
Or maybe it was just the rain….but it was one of those days when only one student shows up..the one whole lives the farthest. HAHAHAHA! Of course, being the hard core prof I am, I went on with the session. I adjusted by going with plan B (experience has told me there should always be a plan B in case students read the wrong text, don’t show up, or technology fails). Natu and I watched the film Moliere instead of going in too deep with the play. We talked about it a bit but I know Natu really wanted to discuss it with her peers. On a personal note, I really like the play, being a little bit of a hypochondriac myself, ahem… It was indeed a fantastic film and I am glad we saw it on such a rainy day…
However, no one is off the hook! We are going to talk about Commedia dell’Arte and The Imaginary Invalid next time. We will make it work. It is my Plan C.