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ELAINE AVILA talks At Water's Edge on 30/30: US Latin@/NoPassport reading scheme blog

30/30NP Blogs - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:50

Interview with Elaine Avila for 30/30 US Latin@/NoPassport reading scheme salon

[Elaine Avila’s play At Water’s Edge is part of the 30/30 US Latin@/NoPassport reading scheme. The same interview questions have been sent to each playwright taking part in the scheme by Caridad Svich.]

CARIDAD SVICH: a false (i think) divide has been erected in some art-making circles between what is called "devised" work and "text-based or text-driven" work. this divide or, shall we call it a "gap?," has served to alienate makers of text-driven work for live performance in the field and in academia. in effect, certain battle grounds have formed that encourage oppositional thinking about this, so that we have now, in many ways, the devisers on one side of the field and the text-makers on the other. devisers are seen as being on trend, text-makers are seen as behind the times. it is exactly this kind of oppositional thinking that can be so damaging not only to those of us making art but those on the "outside" perceiving what is happening in art. (more on that later).

 

ELAINE AVILA: I wish the term “devising” was more inclusive of all people who make theatre. I love actor-creators, and have worked as one. To some in Canada, devising has become a dated term—new companies here want to use the best of creation techniques and tell a great story—they don’t reject writing or writers.

Sometimes devising is about disdain for playwrights. This is too bad, because I use and dig devising techniques, even if I don’t always label them as such.

Let’s bridge this gap. I wrote an article for Canadian Theatre Review (issue 135, “Theatrical Devising”) about how I “devised” my play Quality. My director, Kate Weiss, also framed directing the play as “devising.”  This play went on to productions in London, England (Nordic Nomad at Tracey Neuls Shoes); Albuquerque, New Mexico (Tricklock at Terra Firma);  Edmonton, Alberta (Vault at Gravity Pope); and was performed throughout Panamá.  I agree with Oliver Mayer, playwrights are the first devisers, we work in our rooms with all the elements before anyone else arrives.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: how do deal with the positioning of your work, if at all? how do you negotiate the very real diving lines that get drawn, quite arbitrarily, and quite often, in our field in regard to art-making and its role in culture? as a playwright, how do you devise your own process? dramatic project (life goals as artist)? and how do you wish to live as artist in and with engagement in local and global dialogue with citizens and artists? and are there lessons you've learned you wish to impart to fellows in the field and elsewhere? or lessons you are still learning that impact the kind of work you make or think about making?

ELAINE AVILA: If I have to choose between marketing an older piece and making a new one, I will make a new one. 

I love connecting and engaging with artists around the globe—my play Burn Gloom was a favorite project. I am currently working on projects involving China, Portugal, and the Azores.

I recently made a huge life change—it involved focusing less on the politics of my immediate situation and more on international politics, our food supply, and the environment. It is amazing the people I have been able to connect to since I made this change. Through Caridad Svich, I have become involved in many Gun Control Theatre Actions throughout North America and Australia. Erik Ehn invited me to write a piece for the victims of the Station Fire in Rhode Island.   Daniel Banks invited me to be part of Theatre Without Borders.  I’ve written a short play about immigration that has been performed in New York City, by three different companies. I am about to interview Roberta Levitow, for the New York League of Professional Women’s Women in Theatre Magazine’s International Issue. Roberta is the Senior Program Associate-International of Sundance East Africa, and one of the founders, long time director and co-director of Theatre Without Borders. At fifty, she found her career as a director in the American theatre dissatisfying, and completely re-invented herself.

I am learning to believe that my impulses of what to write next have value even if it is not immediately apparent. I thought this might get easier the more experience I have, but taking risks can get harder. One renown playwright I know said it is because she thinks the longer we practice this art, the more it is like climbing high mountains or deep sea diving—the air gets thinner. We need to keep breathing, keep having faith. For example, my next play is about fado, a Portuguese form of the blues. A friend recently pointed out that if we faced our sadness, as fadistas do (a word meaning fado singers and passionate listeners), the world might be a better place. I had not made the connection. I never would have if I hadn’t embarked on the voyage of writing this play.

CARIDAD SVICH: when you see/hear/read the phrase "US Latin@," what does it make you think of? what is your relationship to being of or part of (or not) a US Latin@ context in your art-making or thinking about art?

ELAINE AVILA: I think of my theatrical, artistic family who constantly inspire and challenge me to excellence. I am a writer of Portuguese descent who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada.

Recently, I have decided to “de-assimilate,” to go backwards in order to go forwards in my writing, by exploring my Portuguese, Azorean roots. The journey is already astonishing. For example, I recently learned that men from my grandparents’ island of Pico married and/or had children with the Inuit in Rankin Inlet and the Coast Salish who lived in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.  This means that I share a common ancestry with some Aboriginal groups of Canada, which has already led to some amazing theatrical collaborations.  I love that James Baldwin says “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

CARIDAD SVICH: as a maker of text for live performance, in what ways are you challenging or calling into question the nature of embodied speech and action when you write a given play or collaborate with fellow artists?

ELAINE AVILA: Making a text for live performance is a tremendous leap of faith.  Each play I have written finds homes that greatly exceed my expectations—for example, one play was performed in a beautiful old theatre space in the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panamá City and in an incredible shoe boutique on an ancient lane in London, England; another production opened on the Pacific Ocean, with actors singing in Spanish, about the New World/Mundo Nuevo. Yet I seem to forget how my plays find beautiful homes. As I write each new play, I need to learn (or remember) optimism.

CARIDAD SVICH: casting is a tough and thorny aspect of our art and business. i think we all know plenty of terrific actors who wait and wait for that one or two gigs every year that ask for their "type" to be cast. i am personally of the mind that the more expansive casting can be, especially in theatre, which is, after all, not a photographically representational art form but an abstract one in its essence, the richer an audience's understanding of the form can be. but i know that this may not be everyone's pov. understandably. what do you do when someone says to you "we don't have culturally specific actors in my town, so we can't even look at your play, even if we were to deeply admire or want to put this story on stage?' what do you say to potential collaborators and casting directors about the nature of how to cast your show and how casting can carry its own political power?

ELAINE AVILA: My favorite experiences have come from expansive casting. African American and Latin@ actors have played “English” roles in my plays inspired by Shakespeare’s clown and Jane Austen; actors of Chinese, European, African-American, Latin@ descent have played roles which I describe as “open to any ethnicity.” In my play, At Water’s Edge, both an Inuit and a Japanese actress have been cast as the Japanese character (a fascinating reversal, as often Japanese actors play Inuit in movies).  The role of Paulo has only been performed by a Portuguese actor once, a rare treat. Often he is cast as Greek, Caucasian or Latino.

In many ways, casting issues are only beginning to be explored and point to fascinating potential. I love David Henry Hwang’s play Yellow Face, one of the first plays ever produced for you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krlv9cyn9Hc and Dr. Daniel Banks’ article “The Welcome Table: Casting for an Integrated Society”  (Theatre Topics Journal, published 2013) which shows how many casting notions based on families and history are wrong.  Dr. Brian Herrera of Princeton, a former colleague, is doing incredible work on the history of casting.

If you live in a context where you “don't have culturally specific actors” in your town, do the play you love and want to explore anyway. Start somewhere.

CARIDAD SVICH: it goes without saying that we live in a multi-lingual world. do you think our US stages (to keep the dialogue national for the moment) need reflect this? if so, how? and in your work, how do you address multi-linguality and hybrid aesthetics, if at all? 

ELAINE AVILA: I’ve written plays that include Chichewa, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Navajo..but I’ve learned the most about multi-linguality from my students. When I headed the MFA program in Dramatic Writing in New Mexico, my former graduate student, a terrific writer and educator, Leonard Madrid, organized a forum on multi-linguality. Most of my students wrote and thought in multiple languages (Spanish, Urdu, Farsi, Navajo, Comanche). We all got awfully tired of what I called the “Dora the Explora” effect, where you write a line in Spanish, and then immediately translate it. I began collecting examples of how multiple languages can work more artfully in plays (Migdalia Cruz’s Fur Carmen Aguirre’s The Refugee Hotel, and Jose Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics, for example). 

The student forum on multi-linguality unearthed some powerful revelations. 1. No-one has a problem with multi-linguality in opera, or in Europe, where multiple languages happen in plays all the time. 2. People particularly object to Spanish in plays, one student said “it is the language of the laborer.” Some people can easily tolerate multiple languages and various levels of comprehension, others cannot.  This question has much more to do with class, tolerance, assimilation and willing curiosity about other people than it may appear.

CARIDAD SVICH: as a writer/maker for/of live performance, what is thrilling to you still about the form - this old weird creaky thing we call theatre - and why?

ELAINE AVILA: My husband is a musician, so I have learned about sympathetic vibration. When a string is plucked in one corner of a room, it can cause another string to vibrate, across the room. My body resonates in a live experience—dance, theatre, music. There is nothing like it.

CARIDAD SVICH: much is made at theatre conferences (esp) about where and how will we find the new audiences for the work. i think i have been hearing this for about 20 years now. and every year new marketing approaches are discussed and studies are done and surveys get passed around and so forth. lots of data gets crunched. but there is a bottom line, I think, and you may disagree, but what I see as the bottom line is: if you change the programming, lower ticket prices, do work for free even (see Mixed Blood's radical hospitality model), move out of the building(s), maybe just maybe that elusive "new" audience may be nurtured. but it ain't gonna happen sitting inside the building thinking about it or tweeting about it either. okay. wee rant over. but seriously, what ideas have you when you make work or are in the process of putting it out there about how to and ways you can create connection with your audience(S) beyond the work itself, for example?

ELAINE AVILA: If you want new audiences, include new people. The brilliant and marvelous playwright Luis Alfaro does some great things to include people—he has lunch with critics to have heart to hearts about theatre, he talks to everyone in the theatre organization about what is going on—like the box office staff, and at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he asked for a taco truck to be outside the theatre, which was very welcoming to Latin@ audiences.

CARIDAD SVICH: what's inspiring you these days? and/or what's troubling you these days?

ELAINE AVILA: Inspiring—The Wayfinders by Wade Davis, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King, which are about story telling in indigeneous/first nations traditions.  Reading these two CBC Massey Lectures (available in book form from House of Anasazi Press and for listening online) led me to work with Inuit storyteller Michael Kusugak and Pangaea Arts on their latest play, Arvaarluk: an Inuit Tale.

Troubling: we are due to lose 50% of the languages on earth in the next 100 years. Imagine all of geographic, plant, and historical knowledge we will lose. Imagine if you were the last speaker of your language—what would you want to save from your words, stories and traditions?

As Wade Davis writes, “Language isn't just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules; it's a flash of the human spirit, the vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. When you and I were born there were 6,000 languages spoken on Earth. Now, fully half are not being taught to schoolchildren. Effectively, they're already dead unless something changes. What this means is that we are living through a period of time in which, within a single generation or two, by definition half of humanity's cultural legacy is being lost in a single generation….. Some people say: "What does it matter if these cultures fade away." The answer is simple. When asked the meaning of being human, all the diverse cultures of the world respond with 10,000 different voices. Distinct cultures represent unique visions of life itself, morally inspired and inherently right. And those different voices become part of the overall repertoire of humanity for coping with challenges confronting us in the future. As we drift toward a blandly amorphous, generic world, as cultures disappear and life becomes more uniform, we as a people and a species, and Earth itself, will be deeply impoverished.”

Tags: #3030NP

Oliver Mayer talks Dark Matters for 30/30 blog

30/30NP Blogs - Mon, 12/02/2013 - 22:41

Interview QUESTIONS FOR TCG 2.0 and NoPassport #3030NP salon with OLIVER MAYER

[Oliver Mayer’s play Dark Matters is part of the 30/30 US Latin@/NoPassport reading scheme. The same interview questions have been sent to each playwright taking part in the scheme by Caridad Svich.]

CARIDAD SVICH: a false (i think) divide has been erected in some art-making circles between what is called "devised" work and "text-based or text-driven" work. this divide or, shall we call it a "gap?," has served to alienate makers of text-driven work for live performance in the field and in academia. in effect, certain battle grounds have formed that encourage oppositional thinking about this, so that we have now, in many ways, the devisers on one side of the field and the text-makers on the other. devisers are seen as being on trend, text-makers are seen as behind the times. it is exactly this kind of oppositional thinking that can be so damaging not only to those of us making art but those on the "outside" perceiving what is happening in art. (more on that later). how do deal with the positioning of your work, if at all?  how do you negotiate the very real dividing lines that get drawn, quite arbitrarily, and quite often, in our field in regard to art-making and its role in culture? as a playwright, how do you devise your own process? dramatic project (life goals as artist)? and how do you wish to live as artist in and with engagement in local and global dialogue with citizens and artists? and are there lessons you've learned you wish to impart to fellows in the field and elsewhere? or lessons you are still learning that impact the kind of work you make or think about making?

 

OLIVER MAYER: What we do is very old and very sacred – also very profane. I like to think that we are halfway between the church and the whorehouse, and that we tend to see the same people coming and going. I am firmly a writer (that would be text-driven) but I think my best writing is often gestural and highly visual; I take not backseat to any deviser out there. As a dramatist we simply have to do it all – direct, design, act, dance, sing and be the audience as well as write – and we have to do it first.

 

In terms of engaging in a global dialogue I am all for it, as long as it occurs one person at a time. That is what gets lost in blockbusters in other media, and what we can hold onto: the ability to use our plays to open another person’s eyes and heart at his or her own pace and ability.

 

 

CARIDAD SVICH: when you see/hear/read the phrase "US Latin@," what does it make you think of?

 

OLIVER MAYER: I don’t use that phrase. I am a United Statesian and a Latino, but I have tended to use Mexican-American to describe myself; I like the hyphen. US Latin@ seems to me transitional at best. Someone soon has to give us a new way to describe ourselves in an active way. Anybody out there have a good name for us?

 

CARIDAD SVICH: what is your relationship to being of or part of (or not) a US Latin@ context in your art-making or thinking about art?

 

OLIVER MAYER: I love my particular context, as I must, because I live there both as an artist and as a citizen. Again, I prefer the hyphen which feels to me like a bridge – and a precarious one – between walled cities. That bridge helps me write on both sides as well as in the middle.

 

 

CARIDAD SVICH: as a maker of text for live performance, in what ways are you challenging or calling into question the nature of embodied speech and action when you write a given play or collaborate with fellow artists?

 

OLIVER MAYER: Text is life, but music must be there in some way. The poetic consciousness demands an elevated sense of musicality in the words on the page. The duende demands that it be performed live and that the performer and writer stretch their abilities to the breaking point. That’s what it’s all about. I am prepared to spend a lifetime extending my abilities to and past my breaking point, as dramatists have done since the Greeks – and probably before.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: casting is a tough and thorny aspect of our art and business. i think we all know plenty of terrific actors who wait and wait for that one or two gigs every year that ask for their "type" to be cast. i am personally of the mind that the more expansive casting can be, especially in theatre, which is, after all, not a photographically representational art form but an abstract one in its essence, the richer an audience's understanding of the form can be. but i know that this may not be everyone's pov. understandably.what do you do when someone says to you "we don't have culturally specific actors in my town, so we can't even look at your play, even if we were to deeply admire or want to put this story on stage?' what do you say to potential collaborators and casting directors about the nature of how to cast your show and how casting can carry its own political power?

 

OLIVER MAYER: Casting is thorny because, like many other things in our country, it’s been so unequal for so long. After nearly 30 years of experience, I want the best actor for the part – but what constitutes the best? Ours is not a photographic art or an expository or overly explained argument – but a play. I want the actors that know how to play best in the hyphenated world of my plays. It makes me very sad how many theaters over the years have eschewed my plays or placed themselves outside the worlds I have created because they believe they cannot cast them or are not willing to try. It makes me very hopeful that the few theaters that have tried have opened their own ideas on what makes an actor the best actor for the part. Some of that involves identity – history, language, culture – but the preponderance of what makes an actor the right one is mysterious, poetic, romantic: chemical.

 

CARIDAD SVICH:  it goes without saying that we live in a multi-lingual world. do you think our US stages (to keep the dialogue national for the moment) need reflect this? if so, how?

 

OLIVER MAYER: Plays are growing more multilingual as our country integrates itself. What our godfathers and sisters started as Spanglish has now blossomed into mixes of Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, French, Patois, you name it. It gives strength to the music in our texts and muscle to our stories, not to mention sexuality and fire to our characters. Any theater that is not taking advantage is not just behind the times, they are mastadons.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: and in your work, how do you address multi-linguality and hybrid aesthetics, if at all? 

 

OLIVER MAYER: I am happy, in my way, to blaze a trail the best I can, particularly as a guy who speaks Spanish pretty badly. I believe in private languages, interior languages that subsets of us know but that large groups are unaware of; and I think that these have a kind of poetry and hieroglyphic power that ought to live onstage, and I’ve written towards that goal for most of my career.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: as a writer/maker for/of live performance, what is thrilling to you still about the form - this old weird creaky thing we call theatre - and why?

 

OLIVER MAYER: We may be the oldest profession, standing alongside the other shamans and prostitutes and bridging them with our observations on life and death and sex; but we are also the most immediate form of connecting select groups of people and making them feel something and see something that matters, that has substance. No app or artificial intelligence comes close and we are becoming more important with every passing hacking and phishing scandal, every virtual community that will never feel quite real, and every person who feels diminished and lonely at the end of the day having hardly ever looked up from his/her screen of choice, craving bodies and feelings and wanting more than ever to discuss a play over several drinks late into the evening – the way we do in this vida that is very very loca.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: much is made at theatre conferences (esp) about where and how will we find the new audiences for the work. i think i have been hearing this for about 20 years now. and every year new marketing approaches are discussed and studies are done and surveys get passed around and so forth. lots of data gets crunched. but there is a bottom line, I think, and you may disagree, but what I see as the bottom line is: if you change the programming, lower ticket prices, do work for free even (see Mixed Blood's radical hospitality model), move out of the building(s), maybe just maybe that elusive "new" audience may be nurtured. but it ain't gonna happen sitting inside the building thinking about it or tweeting about it either. okay. wee rant over. but seriously, what ideas have you when you make work or are in the process of putting it out there about how to and ways you can create connection with your audience(S) beyond the work itself, for example?

 

OLIVER MAYER: I believe in doing great work for free – it is one of the last quality things that we can point to in this country that we do for reasons other than money, and that makes it quite literally invaluable. I like flash plays, I like going to elementary schools and entertaining kids and taking questions, I like taking over alternate spaces and turning them into theatre spaces. We must be inventive; we’re in charge on the page, but off the page we may well have just as much to give.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: what's inspiring you these days? and/or what's troubling you these days?

 

OLIVER MAYER: I’m inspired by enduring love – wife, dog. The cycle of life is fast-moving, so it’s good to be inspired by death too. I’m inspired by sports when they’re good, immediate, exciting and fully committed. I’m inspired by trovadores like Silvio Rodriguez. I’m inspired by how much I don’t know. I’m troubled by liars and people who can’t or won’t cross bridges into the world around them, who can’t or won’t get out of their skin for a blessed moment and see the world with new eyes. In the end I’m more inspired than troubled, but I’m lucky that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: #3030NP

Amparo Garcia-Crow talks 30/30

30/30NP Blogs - Sat, 11/30/2013 - 21:52

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW for 30/30: US Latin@/NoPassport scheme blog salon

 

[Amparo Garcia-Crow’s play The Bonobos is part of the 30/30 US Latin@/NoPassport reading scheme. The same interview questions have been sent to each playwright taking part in the scheme by Caridad Svich.]

 

CARIDAD SVICH: A false (I think) divide has been erected in some art-making circles between what is called "devised" work and "text-based or text-driven" work. This divide (or shall we call it a "gap?") has served to alienate makers of text-driven work for live performance in the field and in academia. In effect, certain battle grounds have formed that encourage oppositional thinking about this, so that we have now, in many ways, the devisers on one side of the field and the text-makers on the other. Devisers are seen as being on trend, text-makers are seen as behind the times. it is exactly this kind of oppositional thinking that can be so damaging not only to those of us making art but those on the "outside" perceiving what is happening in art. (More on that later).  How do deal with the positioning of your work, if at all?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: What others might experience as a gap for me is a bridge since I enjoy both sides and for different reasons.  As a writer and director, text-based is the grist for the mill and as a performer/director--devised work is the free for all.  Both are satisfying and inspiring and for different reasons.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: How do you negotiate the very real diving lines that get drawn, quite arbitrarily, and quite often, in our field in regard to art-making and its role in culture?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I do not allow the perceived (and largely manufactured) division to be corrosive.  I adapt accordingly to stay creative and to stay active.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: As a playwright, how do you devise your own process? Dramatic project (life goals as artist)? And how do you wish to live as artist in and with engagement in local and global dialogue with citizens and artists?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: Process is defined by what I am doing at the time.  Because I am inter-disciplinary, I have more than one plate spinning at the same time.  The life goals then are what supports my living healthfully and creatively.  And when I can be engaged locally and in any significant global dialogue with citizens and artists, I thrive.  I am inspired by the dialogue and grateful for whatever work inspires it.

 

 CARIDAD SVICH: And are there lessons you've learned you wish to impart to fellows in the field and elsewhere? Or lessons you are still learning that impact the kind of work you make or think about making?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: Being a theatre artist is my mindful practice.  It is what keeps me engaged, inspired and in good attention and presence with what is my daily Life.  Like the Magritte painting of the apple and his text: THIS IS NOT AN APPLE, I remain aware that TALKING about my art is not doing it.  However, in refining HOW I talk about my art, my art benefits.  My rendering of “the apple” is the art.  Everything I do, think, say can be art full. Having that kind of curiosity keeps me wild-eyed and fascinated with the mundane because inevitably the next line, the next character or story comes from the next conversation or from whatever table I sit at the restaurant when I lean back and overhear the perfect strangers’ conversation going on behind me.  I can hardly wait to discover what I did not plan for but which births the next big (and hopefully great) idea.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: when you see/hear/read the phrase "US Latin@," what does it make you think of?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: Family.  Roots.  Passion.  The Spanish language and how I butcher it.  And how I miss it and want to see “it all”--all things Latin around me.  I want more and in all shapes and colors.  And ever since attending the Latino Commons Convening in Boston, I miss the community I reconnected with there and miss them.  It was a utopia of sorts that re-membered all that is Latin in me.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: what is your relationship to being of or part of (or not) a US Latin@ context in your art-making or thinking about art?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I have felt a real love for wanting to tell what is “US Latin@” as I have experienced it as Mexican American woman from South Texas.  And when I veer off the track and get interested in non-Latin subjects, it’s still the deepest part of the Latin in me that tells it.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: as a maker of text for live performance, in what ways are you challenging or calling into question the nature of embodied speech and action when you write a given play or collaborate with fellow artists?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I love that speech and action is the most exciting for me when it is deeply embodied in the actor’s physical body.  I love very expressive physicality on the stage.  I like to push the boundaries of what is realistic in a very pedestrian way so that it is on one hand recognizable but on the other hand, sublime.  I also love playing with the cinematic image and how visual the internet’s ways has altered our brains and the way in which we perceive information now.  I am curious to see how the marriage of all of these elements succeeds (or not) to create that moment that ‘awes” us in the way that only poetry can--but in this case, in motion.  And/or through the use of sound and music combined to support the actor’s almost acrobatic presence.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: Casting is a tough and thorny aspect of our art and business. I think we all know plenty of terrific actors who wait and wait for that one or two gigs every year that ask for their "type" to be cast. I am personally of the mind that the more expansive casting can be, especially in theatre, which is, after all, not a photographically representational art form but an abstract one in its essence, the richer an audience's understanding of the form can be. But I know that this may not be everyone's p.o.v. understandably. what do you do when someone says to you "we don't have culturally specific actors in my town, so we can't even look at your play, even if we were to deeply admire or want to put this story on stage?'

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I attempt to educate them about what appears to be their ‘unquestioned’ beliefs and short-sightedness in ways that they can hear it and not feel attacked. And if I succeed and if they listen, I begin a new collaboration and/or friendship.  Otherwise I know immediately that it is not a match.  And go on to the next possibility. 

 

CARIDAD SVICH: What do you say to potential collaborators and casting directors about the nature of how to cast your show and how casting can carry its own political power?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I say everything I can to make the intended reality as written on paper a possibility.  And/or argue for the complete opposite.  For example, in my piece STRIP, the musical I am currently in development with, it is purposefully meant to push every boundary about race and gender by playfully presenting three famous icons in that wildly Caryl Churchill CLOUD NINE kind of way--meaning the subject is questioning the ideas about what it takes to ‘strip’ ourselves of our previously taboo notions about obscenity.  Lenny Bruce is a character in this piece, and because historically he was arrested for saying the ‘f’ word, he argued many times:  “I’m saying it, not DOING it”---there’s a big difference.  The casting is similar.  We know Lenny wasn’t a woman but in this piece there are three of them.  So why not make one of them everything he wasn’t?  Including Mexican.  And maybe even a woman.  (Since he cross-dressed in the Navy)

  

CARIDAD SVICH: it goes without saying that we live in a multi-lingual world. Do you think our US stages (to keep the dialogue national for the moment) need reflect this? If so, how?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I think the play is the thing and if the characters are multi-lingual, make them that way and allow that to be what and who they are.  Subtitles can be an interesting possibility for the stage.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: and in your work, how do you address multi-linguality and hybrid aesthetics, if at all? 

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: They talk the way they talk. Or the way my ear heard them talk.  And if they are hybrid, they define their own aesthetics by being the most authentically rendered selves.  On the page.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: As a writer/maker for/of live performance, what is thrilling to you still about the form - this old weird creaky thing we call theatre - and why?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: Everything about live performance is thrilling!  I am still so in love, like the first day I fell in love with it, I haven’t fallen out of love.  And it was even love at first sight.  I am so proud to be a part of its magical, spiritual life line.  I admire every living and dead theatre practitioner who married it!  I still have that goofy, fool for Love goose-bumpy--’I just had sex for the first time’ ‘ feel with it all.  And I know, without a doubt, that it’s a match made in heaven!

 

CARIDAD SVICH: Much is made at theatre conferences (esp.) about where and how will we find the new audiences for the work. I think I have been hearing this for about 20 years now. And every year new marketing approaches are discussed and studies are done and surveys get passed around and so forth. Lots of data gets crunched. but there is a bottom line, I think, and you may disagree, but what I see as the bottom line is: if you change the programming, lower ticket prices, do work for free even (see, for example, Mixed Blood Theatre's radical hospitality model), move out of the building(s), maybe just maybe that elusive "new" audience may be nurtured. But it isn’t going to happen sitting inside the building thinking about it or tweeting about it either. Okay. Wee rant over.  But seriously, what ideas have you when you make work or are in the process of putting it out there about how to and ways you can create connection with your audience(S) beyond the work itself, for example?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I am proud of the fact that more than once I have found new audiences for the work I do.  And I’m not greedy about it.  It doesn’t have to be the multitudes.  Meaning, the audiences we dream about are at heart-- our next door neighbors, the mail man/woman and/or the college student that bags my groceries.  It’s still about the connection we make.   The invitation we extend.  And then if we’re lucky they ask:  ‘what’s your next project? Or do you have a mailing list?”  And so our relationship begins.  Wherever two or more are gathered begins the new audience for me.  And we remain faithful to the other, I find.  It’s not an abstraction.  It’s a relationship. We often know each other’s name.  And often they bring their friends.  And family.  And I notice, that there’s enough audience to go around!  No worries that we’re going to run out of them once we find them.

 

CARIDAD SVICH: What's inspiring you these days? And/or what's troubling you these days?

 

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: I am a cheap date.   So easily inspired.  However, I recently bought a converter for my old floppy disks.  And I am discovering old plays or unfinished work I began in the 1990s when the dinosaur computers started to crop up.  The same is true for old cassettes of old original musical.  I am inspired to breathe life into these projects again.  Some are surprisingly worth revisiting!  

 

What is troubling me is that I am obviously getting older if more and more friends (who are ten or twenty years older) are dying suddenly and more regularly.  I am discovering that grief is something you manage as you begin to age even gracefully.  I am practicing “the good cry” like yoga these days.  I sometimes cry for no good reason other than what Beckett said so much better in ENDGAME:

 

“You are alive, there is no cure for that.” 

 

What I do with my aliveness then is what inspires.  And what I do not accomplish is what is troubling.  The peace I manage to find comes from cultivating a middle ground between the two.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: #3030NP

A CAUTIONARY TAIL AND OTHER PLAYS

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Tue, 11/19/2013 - 11:55
New from NoPassport Press   A CAUTIONARY TAIL AND OTHER PLAYS by christopher oscar peña   collects for the first time full-length and short works by this acclaimed playwright. with a foreword by Naomi Iizuka and essays by Stephanie Ybarra and Steve Stout. A roaringly wild collection of plays by a dynamic new voice in US theatre.   ISBN: 978-1-304-63736-9 List price: $20.00 355 pages.   direct link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/christopher-oscar-pe%C3%B1a/a-cautionary-tail-and-other-plays/paperback/product-21306385.html   NoPassport Dreaming the Americas Series   www.nopassport.org   Tags: NoPassport Press

30/30 begins with Irma Mayorga's CASCARONES in Santa Fe!

30/30NP Blogs - Sat, 11/16/2013 - 09:45
Teatro Paraguas Presents                          Reading of Cascarones, by Irma Mayorga, directed by Daniel Banks Part of the Under One Umbrella Festival and 30/30 US Latin@/NoPassport scheme SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2013   5 pm     Cascarones takes place in San Antonio, Texas, as teenager Mary-Margaret Caceres, who works for the transit authority giving people bus route directions, attempts to understand the mapping of her community and city.  As she navigates the daily challenges her working class family faces, in a dreamlike state she encounters John Wesley Powell, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, and the other men whose actions in the past influence her present.   3205 Calle Marie, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Reservations: (505) 424-1601 Pay what you can. For more information: Under One Umbrella and DNAWORKS   Tags: #3030NP30/30

How about now? Us Latin@ theatre by Caridad Svich

30/30NP Blogs - Wed, 11/13/2013 - 17:08

How about now?

By Caridad Svich

Where will US Latina/o theatre-makers be in 30 years? What will 2046 look like?

These two questions loomed large over the many, varied conversations sustained during the Latino Theatre Commons National Convening at Emerson College 31 October through 2 November 2013.

If indeed, as US population demographic studies predict, Latina/os in the US will be a majority in 2046, how, then, In effect, will our impact on culture be quantified?

I think it is safe to say that none of us will truly know where we will be in 30 years’ time, and, for that matter, know exactly what American theatre will look, sound, and move like. The subscription-based resident/regional theatre system is already in dire need of an overhaul, and our small teatros across the country are struggling just to make ends meet. I’d like to think that US stages, large and small, will reflect in an equitable, democratic manner the plurality of voices, peoples, genders and aesthetics of our cultural workers, and therein, of our population. It has taken more than twenty years for even a hair’s breadth of gender parity on our stages. Although I am optimistic by nature and want to believe that the troubles and struggles that many of our practitioners face now regarding issues of representation, visibility, equity, and fiscal sustainability will be eradicated, or at very least, substantially less cumbersome, I am wary of sounding a blaring trumpet at this stage in the game.

So, I think perhaps it best to not craft a grand vision for 2046, but rather, one for the immediate future.

What can we do now to better the lives of our fellow citizen-artists? What can we do now to strengthen the fragile eco-system of American theatre, of which US Latina/o theatre is a part?

Let’s not take on the world right now. Let’s just focus on what may be possible with a little ingenuity, hard work, resourcefulness, light and grace.

Could we imagine a shared stage writ large?

What would happen if ALL, and I mean, ALL of the US Latina/0 theatres in this country actually banded together to create shared programming, touring of productions and artistic exchange of new writing, classical work and works in translation?

Could we envision a season or two, or even three (or more, if we wanted to be grand about it), where Repertorio Espanol, INTAR, Pregones/PRTT, IATI, LATea, Nuyorican Poets Café, Borderlands, Milagro Theatre Group, Su Teatro, Teatro Dallas, Teatro Paraguas, Teatro del Pueblo, East LA Rep, Teatro Vista, Teatro Vision, Casa 101 (and more) all shared artists and resources and programming?

Could we call, if we were so disposed to play the celebrity angle, on Mariah Carey, J.Lo, Cameron Diaz, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria, Sofia Vergara, Oscar Issac, Benicio del Toro, Andy Garcia, and Rita Moreno  - artists whose combined net worth as a group is more than 700 million - to step it up, and actually produce/present a season or two across the country?

Could we make our own National Theatre, which already is in existence, albeit in pockets of isolation city to city, region to region, bountiful in its indigenity, mestizaje, and syncreticism as any other, and in so doing, actually turn the system upside down?

[Caridad Svich is a playwright and founder of NoPassport theatre alliance & press, which launches 30/30 – a US celebration of Latina/o theatre across the US this month. Visit:  http://www.nopassport.org/3030-us-latinao-theatrenopassport-reading-scheme]

Tags: 30/30#3030NP

New from Santa Catalina Editions: OUTLAW PLAYS by Caridad Svich

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Wed, 06/19/2013 - 13:51
New from Santa Catalina Editions:   OUTLAW PLAYS by Caridad Svich   OUTLAW PLAYS by US playwright Caridad Svich focus on characters living outside boundaries imagined and real. The two plays in this volume- KILL TO EAT (a patriot song) and PENSACOLA - are driven by a punk energy in their use of language and the staging of action. Poetic, raw and strange, they traffic and play with genre tropes from pulp fiction, “noir” cinema, and steam-punk literature and are influenced by murder ballads and electric blues.     ISBN: 978-1-304-13118-8 6 X 9 paperback US retail: $15.00   Direct purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich/caridad-svich-outlaw-plays/paperback/product-21067147.html   Santa Catalina Editions A NoPassport imprint.   Tags: NoPassport Press

New from NoPassport: THE BREATH OF THEATRE

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Mon, 04/01/2013 - 09:57

New March-April 2013 from NoPassport Press:

THE BREATH OF THEATRE
Conversations & Reflections, 2003-2013.
by Caridad Svich

This volume collects ten years of conversations and critical reflections by OBIE-winning playwright and arts journalist Caridad Svich. Leading artists profiled in this book include Tim Crouch, Ariel Dorfman, Marguerite Feitlowitz, Philip Kan Gotanda, Charles Mee, Jr., Jose Rivera, Andrei Serban,and Heather Woodbury. A vital volume on the art-making process and its power for transformation.

ISBN: 978-1-300-88963-2
Suggested Retail: $25.00
6 X 9 paperback.
435 pages. 

Direct purchase link:http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich/the-breath-of-theatre/paperback/product-20949171.html

Tags: NoPassport Press

WAR PLAYS by Christine Evans

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Fri, 03/29/2013 - 12:43
New March 2013 title from NoPassport Press:       WAR PLAYS by Christine Evans       collects for the first time three of this US-based, UK-Australian playwright's remarkable plays about war and aftermath: Trojan Barbie, Mothergun and Slow Falling Bird. With an introduction by esteemed filmmaker Peter Davis, this collection is a terrific introduction to Evans' astute theatrical voice.       ISBN: 978-1-300-83167-9 paperback (soft) 6X9   Suggested retail: $15.00     direct purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/christine-evans/war-plays/paperback/product-20943665.html Tags: NoPassport Press

New from NOPE PRESS: 24 GUN CONTROL PLAYS

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Fri, 02/22/2013 - 11:01
New from NoPassport Press Released February 22nd: National Day of Service for Gun Control     24 GUN CONTROL PLAYS ed. by Caridad Svich and Zac Kline   brings together new work in support of gun control from playwrights Neil LaBute, Elaine Avila, Kyle Bostian, Neil Blackadder, Alex Broun, Gab Cody, Tameka Cage Conley, Cecilia Copeland, Yvette Heyliger, Amina Henry, Zac Kline, Jennifer Maisel, Lynn Manning, Oliver Mayer, Chiori Miyagawa, Matthew Paul Olmos, Ian Rowlands, Tammy Ryan, August Schulenberg, Saviana Stanescu, Caridad Svich, Chris Weikel, Winter Miller, Gary Winter, and Laura Zam.   The volume features an essay by Tammy Ryan and a reflection and interview by DW Gregory.   Selected works in this volume were presented in collaboration with NoPassport, Theater J and force/collision in Washington D.C. on January 26, 2013, and with Pittsburgh PACT to coincide with the March on Washington for Gun Control led by Molly Smith and Suzanne Blue Star Boy. These dynamic works for theatre are a rousing call to action.   A % of the sales of this volume will go toward Amnesty International's Arms Control and Human Rights Campaign: No Arms for Atrocities.   ISBN: 978-1-300-76771-8 print on demand paperback 6 X 9 (ebook forthcoming) .78 lbs. US Retail: $15.00.   Direct purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich-and-zac-kline/24-gun-control-plays/paperback/product-20711271.html Tags: NoPassport Press

New Limited Edition from Santa Catalina Editions: AMERICAN QUARTET

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Mon, 02/11/2013 - 15:10
2013 Limited Edition Publication from Santa Catalina Editions/NoPassport:   AMERICAN QUARTET by Caridad Svich   Four plays by OBIE-award-winning dramatist Caridad Svich that center on stories of the US' working poor. A tough-minded, lyrical quartet of dramas set in small towns in Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and the Florida Panhandle - this collection paints a stark, tender portrait of citizens looking for some kind of healing on this here earth. The plays in this limited edition volume are GUAPA, THE WAY OF WATER, SPARK and HIDE SKY. With an introduction by Zac Kline, and essays by Henry Godinez, Heather Helinsky and Caridad Svich.   paperback, print on demand: $18.00 6 X 9   Direct purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich/american-quartet/paperback/product-20684455.html     Santa Catalina Editions/NoPassport www.nopassport.org   Tags: NoPassport Press

new NoPassport title by Todd London

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:51
New 2013 Title from NoPassport Press:
 
THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING EARNEST:
WRITINGS FROM INSIDE THE AMERICAN THEATRE, 1988-2013
by Todd London
 
This is an astonishing, indispensable retrospective collection of essays, articles, reviews and reflections on artists by distinguished theatre critic and scholar Todd London, artistic director of New Dramatists. The volume spans writings from 1988-2013 and is collected for the first time. A vital, important anthology for practitioners, scholars, students, and theatre-lovers everywhere.
 
"No one writes about the beauty, import and frustration of theater with the eloquence, warmth and depth of Todd London. In his collection of essays that span a quarter century, he audaciously interrogates and celebrates the medium in equal measure, unafraid to undress our notions about the art and business of theater. This is a collection long in the making, and reflects the wisdom and possessiveness of someone who has dedicated his career to safeguarding the legacy of theatre artists. " -- Lynn Nottage   ISBN: 978-1-300-65504-6
6 X 9 paperback, print on demand
285 pages.
Retail: $20.00
 
Purchase link:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/todd-london/the-importance-of-staying-earnest/paperback/product-20677365.html
 
 
NoPassport Press
Dreaming the Americas Series
www.nopassport.org Tags: NoPassport Press

The Female Heart and Other Plays

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Sun, 01/27/2013 - 20:18
New Title for NOPE PRESS   THE FEMALE HEART AND OTHER PLAYS By Linda Faigao Hall     THE FEMALE HEART AND OTHER PLAYS collects for the first time a range of work by pioneering Filipino-American dramatist Linda Faigao-Hall. The plays in this volume are funny, sexy, tragic and resonant as they deal with identity, longing and transculturation. Edited by Randy Gener with preface by scholar Luis Francia and afterword by Ian Morgan.   ISBN: 978-1-300-66055-2 paperback Suggested US Retail: $20.00   NoPassport Press Dreaming the Americas Series www.nopassport.org Tags: NoPassport Press

New NOPE title: ASHES OF LIGHT

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Sun, 12/30/2012 - 19:34
New December 2012 title from NoPassport Press   ASHES OF LIGHT (la luz de un cigarrillo)   by Marco Antonio Rodriguez   ASHES OF LIGHT (a luz de un cigarrillo) is a dynamic, engaging play by Marco Antonio Rodríguez about the struggles and aspirations of a Dominican family in New York City. Written with compassion, humor and honesty, the play is a welcome addition to the vast body of theatre from a new generation of US Latino dramatists.   ISBN: 978-1-300-51058-1 paperback, print on demand $10.00   direct link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/marco-antonio-rodriguez/ashes-of-light/paperback/product-20575150.html     NoPassport Press Dreaming the Americas Series www.nopassport.org Tags: NoPassport Press

New from Santa Catalina Editions: PLAYS OF LOVE & ENCHANTMENT

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Wed, 11/21/2012 - 13:35

 

New November 2012 title from Santa Catalina Editions, an imprint of NoPassport:   PLAYS OF LOVE & ENCHANTMENT by Caridad Svich   Astral Yearning, Bliss, Elysium at 3 AM, Slow Fast Walking on the Red Eye, Transmission 0500/To the Blue Peninsula, Turn the Dark Up, Bow Down, This is a Hymn   The six plays in this collection are a series of meditations on love, time, virtuality, and transience in the modern world. They focus mainly on young characters drifting through their lives, and in and out of relationships. These theatre pieces are written as little spells of love. They bristle with both poison and enchantment, as they send their characters into orbit. What they ask, in sometimes ardently pure text, is for a new kind of theatre language to be born- out of and through aspects of love.   paperback ISBN: 978-1-300-42880-0 retail: $20.00   Purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich/caridad-svich-plays-of-love-enchantment/paperback/product-20525324.html

 

Tags: NoPassport Press

New from NoPassport Press Preview Editions: i put the fear of méxico in’em

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Wed, 11/21/2012 - 13:35

 

by matthew paul olmos
 
"What ensues is a complex encounter that challenges notions of boundary, safety, identity and what you would do for your family. It's a dissection of difference, of connection, of the borders and barriers we use to distance ourselves, and those dangerous moments when we cross over those borders and barriers.”
--Philip Himberg, Producing Artistic Director, Sundance Theatre Institute   134 pages paperback
retail: $10.00
 
purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/matthew-paul-olmos/i-put-the-fear-of-m%C3%A9xico-inem/paperback/product-20513637.html Tags: NoPassport Press

New from Santa Catalina Editions: ART & DECADENCE PLAYS

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Tue, 10/30/2012 - 09:17

 

New for October 2012 from Santa Catalina Editions:   ART AND DECADENCE PLAYS (Magnificent Waste, Lulu Ascending, Tilt Heaven) by Caridad Svich   The three plays by OBIE-winning playwright Caridad Svich examine varying aspects of art and decadence through the lens of contemporary visual art, photography, painting, and fashion. MAGNIFICENT WASTE (2012 finalist for PEN Center USA Literary Award in Drama), LULU ASCENDING (a play on Wedekind's Lulu plays) and TILT HEAVEN are acid-dipped views of celebrity culture and consumerism, suffused with a hard ache for the lost souls that inhabit their distinct harsh-lit, emptied worlds of sadness.   ISBN: 978-1-300-34935-8 Paperback: $20.00 purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/caridad-svich/caridad-svich-art-and-decadence-plays/paperback/product-20476643.html   Santa Catalina Editions is an imprint of NoPassport. Tags: NoPassport Press

New from NoPassport Press october 2012: RED FROGS & OTHER PLAYS

Latest NoPassport Press Titles - Wed, 10/24/2012 - 14:40

 

New October 2012 title from NoPassport Press   RED FROGS AND OTHER PLAYS by Ruth Margraff   Afterword by Randy Gener   RED FROGS AND OTHER PLAYS by Ruth Margraff collects three astonishing, thrilling plays: the title play, THE ELEKTRA FUGUES and STADIUM DEVILDARE. Margraff is one of the US' most daring playwright-poets and this collection defies expectations and leaves readers and audiences breathless with wonder.   ISBN: 978-1-300-32500-0 paperback US Retail: $15.00   purchase link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/ruth-margraff/red-frogs-and-other-plays/paperback/product-20462149.html Tags: NoPassport Press

Spark in Boston!

Spark Blog Posts - Sat, 09/22/2012 - 22:51

Atomic Age Theater Company in Boston will present a reading of Spark October 30th and 7 pm at Emerson College!

The play will be staged as a reading in coordination with NoPassport. Click here to RSVP: http://atomicagetheater.wix.com/home#!our-season/vstc3=spark

Spark  by Caridad Svich Location: Emerson College Multipurpose Room Date and Time: Oct 30th at 7:00. Directed by Noelle Vinas Run Time: 90 Min   Spark is a play about three sisters living in the messy aftermath of the U.S's recent war in Iraq. It is about what happens when soldiers come home, when women of little economic means must find a way to make do, and the strength, ultimately, of family.   

 

Tags: Spark
Categories: Spark Blog Posts

Ensemble Free Theater Norway in collaboration with Cummins Theatre in Merredin, Western Australia To Present Reading of Spark

Spark Blog Posts - Sat, 09/22/2012 - 22:32

We are very excited to announce: Ensemble Free Theater Norway in collaboration with Cummins Theatre in Merredin, Western Australia will read Spark on Nov 11, 2012! Please check out the facebook event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/471563792864129/

NoPassport theatre alliancein association with Ensemble Free Theater Norway present: a reading of SPARK
a new play by Caridad Svich (USA)
directed by Brendan McCall

Obie Award-winning playwright Caridad Svich's play SPARK is about a family of sisters who live in North Carolina, one of whom is a returning veteran from a recent war. 

FREE readings of this play are being made available worldwide during the month of November in time for Veteran’s Day and around the national US elections. The international script reading scheme has been developed to honor US war veterans, shed light on the plight of female veterans in particular, and to raise increased awareness for their stories, by NoPassport theatre alliance & press-- an unincorporated collective dedicated to the advocacy, production and publication of works expressive of cross-cultural and aesthetic diversity in the arts. 

**This event is FREE**

Sunday, 11 November 2012 (USA Veterans Day)
7pm
at the Cummins Theatre
31 Bates Street
Merredin, Western Australia
www.cumminstheatre.com.au

For more information about NoPassport theatre alliance:
www.nopassport.org

For more information about Ensemble Free Theater Norway:
www.ensemblefreetheaternorway.com

      Tags: Spark
Categories: Spark Blog Posts

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