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!!!!