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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

How about now? Us Latin@ theatre by Caridad Svich

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:]

by Caridad Svich
[This poem was written on November 1st, 2013. An excerpt of it was delivered at the 2013 Latina/o Theatre Commons National Convening at Emerson College, Boston in a plenary session on Saturday morning November 2nd, 2013, where Ms. Svich spoke about the mission of NoPassport theatre allance and press.]
I left at dawn
while creation slept.
Barefoot, breathless
wondering where I'd been.
The roads turned dirt.
Smoke rose in the air
low against the muted horizon.
I felt a pull
a tug at my chest.
Was this home?
Is this where I'd been?
The road would not say.
It had other concerns.
It wanted something else of me, of us.
The lingering face of memory
the unsettling place of doubt
the unknown space of love's serenity.
Here were desks
dusted with desire.
Here were words
inscribed upon
vanishing sheets of paper.
I took a step
toward the invisible ink
and felt instead a candle
burning upon a ledge
against a broken window
that somebody had once
called home.
Speak reason, words,
my lips cried out
but nothing came
from the burning flame,
save a waxy tear,
a dying ember.
Is this power?
My lips asked.
Is this where such words lead?
no glory here,
only fragility,
as embers cradled breath
and tendered civility.
The road turned south.
Horizon shifted.
It seemed as if a dance of angels
moved upon the damaged earth.
Sorry times, someone said,
midst the blur of night,
such lustful craving
for the language of currency.
must we all be merchants now?
a ghost queried from an unlit corridor.
must we all package our desires
in modular boxes of similar, replicable design
so that they can be neatly arranged upon
the shelves of history?
I'd like to think
the river cane
lights a sheltering light
of art
and trees
of weeping leaves
and the bones of all of our dead -
for if the living light
is truly free,
then let it truly be.
No power claimed.
No conquest named,
only the gleam
of invisible cities.
For it is said
in right and left
in inches and degrees
the healing clock
will rise and stop
and call with blissful ease:
a kindly blues
an aching news
of who we might not be,
but rather who we are
without power's star
to claim our liberties.
oh noble weakness,
oh thrilling fragility
how nimble you will be
when puckish loud
and blazing proud
you'll slip through history
with a wink and a smile,
a darting eye,
a semblance of unfettered identity.
for it is now the ink drawn map
traced upon the rock
glassy smooth
surrendered eye/I -
a path newly born
in hazy ash
in grey of morn
in twilight's archaeology.
Look here - the curving sky
Look here - the unknown gods
held in your skin
as physical memory.
End of book, someone will say,
but then
for in the cave
is the riddled grave
the oracle of destiny.
Hold back all tears
Erase fears
Rise up
as the sun shines through the belly.
and in that breath
a stone's throw
from eternity.

Moments in Time


By Caridad Svich

This essay was written for the August 2013 issue of StageReads, where Archipelago is the featured play. It is reprinted here with the author's permission

An introduction by Stephen Wrentmore

Stephen Wrentmore is a theatre director, change consultant and the Associate Artistic Director at Arizona Theatre Company.

A casual conversation led to a casual inquiry

In cyberspace words were shared,

The virtual, led to paper and ink

Now actual.

That connection with words (let’s call it a script) led to travel.

Travel made new conversations, made real contact, a rehearsal room, a bar, food, conviviality.

This led to a spark of recognition.

To connection.

“I will send you my new script,” she said.  “It’s quite different.”


And so, virtually, I was introduced to the relentless beauty and eloquence of Archipelago. It glistens, like a body emerging from water, familiar and strange, public and private. A space of contradiction, of elegance and complexity, of seduction and alienation.


It is a glimpse at a dream become nightmare

It is love lost and love found


Love lost

It is here and there

Other and home

It is him and her


And him


For me,

It was love at first sight.


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latino Literature describes Caridad Svich as a playwright, songwriter, editor and translator. I would add essayist, teacher, academic and commentator to the list. Hamlet demands the player, “hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature” and in so much of Caridad’s prolific career this has been the case. The Way of Water, set in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Spark, which explores soldiers’ homecoming from conflict. Then there are the adaptations of major novels of the Americas - The House of the Spirits, Love in the Time of Cholera, In the Time of Butterflies - and translations of pretty much the complete works of Lorca. These are just a few examples from a huge list that form a body of extraordinary and evolutionary work.


Like the great writers who went before her, Svich is interested in the bigger, deeper themes concerning what it means to be human, the world we live in and why, ultimately, we do what we do. Her prose is expressed in conflict and in love. In tension and in harmony. I see in her work the bloodline of the classics: there is Sophocles and Lorca, Shakespeare and Lope De Vega.  Glancing at any page in the script you will see swathes of white space around short, precise, fathomless interchanges.  Archipelago sent me back to Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, which I directed a few years ago, and it took me to a night at the National Theatre in London when I was very young, seeing Harold Pinter’s Mountain Language, and to the works of Beckett and his love for language and for the actor.  In Archipelago I see the same deftness of touch, and the accuracy of the writer’s blade as it cut flesh and prejudice. These are the true parents of this play. The piece is poetic.


It breathes.

It suggests but shows no interest in answers.

Questions lead to questions.

It is willfully complex and achingly simple.

Look closely, it is not a flat surface, like the desert is not all sand…

There is an extraordinary sense of wanderlust in the narrative of Caridad Svich’s life that infuses the narratives of her plays. Born in Philadelphia to a Cuban-Spanish mother and Argentine-Croatian father, her formative years were spent gazing at the passing miles of late 1960s America as the family Chevy carried west then east then west then east, metronomically across the States from a home in New Jersey to Utah, Florida, California and New York. The tapestry of language and the tapestry of experience binding the Balkans to the Americas both north and south has had a profound impact on her, and that complexity is woven into her texts, her storytelling, and her adaptations.

Then think of the worlds that Caridad’s parents left behind.

Think how those worlds conjure stories.

Stories interwoven across multiple languages that were sung and spoken as the miles rolled by. Then later recalled as each stroke of the pen, each click of the keyboard pulls forth a ghost from this past and confronts the future in a pattern across the page.



          I wanted to tell her everything about everything

          About armed soldiers patrolling the streets

          Roads cut off by barbed wire and concrete

          And bayonets fixed to barrels and brothers dead in prison

          and planes overhead and the swift crack of rifles…

                                                                             Scene 10, Archipelago


From this place of transience has come an ability to observe and absorb, then reshape and express the ever changing ever more complex world around us. Caridad is interested in diversity of landscape, of people, and of the topography and geography of their experience.  She creates continents for her characters and maps for the audience to trace their finger across as her situations and characters unfold. As a result one can start to see global themes emerging from her work: ideas of exile, migration, loss and loneliness – perhaps of isolation and the gossamer tethers that tie us all together. The personal political and the public, global political are played out on the landscape of the body. Humanized and tortured, erotic and profound.


          We dreamed of candles and tea and soup and lemons

          Figs and cherries and blossoms at springtime

          We whispered little songs to each other, and surrendered our pride

                                                                                                Scene 6. Archipelago


Caridad Svich in Archipelago creates for us a dystopian world, and in the middle of that world she places love. Caridad plays with our knowledge of things, our prejudice, and our curiosity. For all that is NOT there, we find clues and tethers to hook our imagination. There are fingerholds and pitons to help us climb, to show us what MIGHT be there. Our job is to push through the veil of naturalism to the realm of our own imagination, to partake of the journey. A journey with a nameless boy and a nameless girl of an age, of any age, in a place that might be home and might be foreign, where time moves in many directions. 

The play is set nowhere. It might be South America and a large metropolitan city in the United States; it might be the Middle East and America. What we discover are two people. One from there, one from here (wherever there and here are). One is always the other, one is always the outsider. Despite its worldliness it is an empty space. For all that happens around and to our Adam and Eve they never meet or connect with another voice. Instead they are connected to and divorced from each other. From the sound of the landscape, the ebb and flow of the ocean and the inevitable passing of time.

To define the play is to miss the point. It is not interested in solidity, and so, perhaps we might describe it as a memory play. And indeed, in the same way as your memory plays tricks with you, so too does the playwright. It seems an act of utter futility to try and describe a play that, like the roads of Caridad’s youth, lies before you to explore and interpret for yourself. 

So, what’s the play about?

I would say, “About 90 minutes.”

 NoPassport Five Week Playwriting Intensive with Caridad Svich:
Sustaining a Daily Practice and Generating a New Play
January 21-February 25, 2013 (via email)

This playwriting course via email will focus on sustaining a daily practice as a dramatist,
the creation of character and landscape sketches and dramatic scenes as a method
toward the exploration and creation of a new work (long form one act or full length).

The course will involve writing, some required, assigned reading and peer response.

Bio: Caridad Svich is a playwright, translator, editor and educator. She received a 2012 OBIE for Lifetime Achievement and the 2011 Primus Prize from the American Theatre Critics Association. She is founder of NoPassport theatre alliance & press. Website:

Enquiries to

Total Cost: $125.00
Payable directly via credit card to Instructor c/o fiscal sponsor at
Class Limit: 14.

A Reflection on SPARK in Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

Directed by Lisa Jackson-Schebetta

November 12, 2012

                               by Dr. Lisa Jackson-Schebetta
Our first rehearsal was like any first rehearsal for a staged reading—introductions, clarifications about where to sit in the reading, which stage directions to read, and so forth.   At the act break, we had a chat about the play, about the mundanity of daily life that it depicts—and we meant mundanity in the very best way.  The details of the fabric of daily life, the intimate tones of voice, the specific language patterns and the miscommunications of a family who know each other so well sometimes, and so not at all others.  The cider, the cake, the needle and thread.  Personal histories bound up with, chafing against, tangling with the here and now, both immediate and more largely.  At the end of act two, we commented on more of the same and also how Vaughn throws all of the above into sharp, sharp relief: histories and maps, personal and cultural, as inextricably linked to wars, present and past.  We then found our way into a conversation about how war had personally been a part of our lives, sharing stories that aren’t the sort you share at a first read through.  Of, to borrow from Tim O’Brien, things carried by us, or loved ones.  The piece opened something in each of us.  
For me, as an artist and a teacher, it also reminded me that, sometimes, in theatre classrooms, war and veterans aren’t always mindfully acknowledged, discussed, represented.  At another institution, where I taught acting, an ROTC student came to me and asked if I might have some recommendations for the acting scene.  
The student was not a theatre major and was hoping for a play that engaged with the complex experiences of soldiers. The student feared he might only come across anti-war, anti-military and, perhaps implicitly, anti-soldier plays. Working on Caridad Svich’s Spark reminded me to be mindful.  How in so many ways war could or might sit, silent or silenced, in my classroom.  
Lisa Jackson-Schebetta holds a PhD in Theatre History, Criticism and Theory from the University of Washington and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Her research interests center on histories and theories of performance and theatre in the Americas and Spain, the ethics of citizenship, and corporeality.  Her directing work has been seen at The Women’s Project and Productions, chashama, HERE and the American Globe Theatre, among others.

A Reflection on Spark in Santa Fe

DNAWORKS and Teatro Paraguas in Partnersip with the Sante Fe Art Instutitue and the Performing Arts Conservatory of the Southwest, Sante Fe, NM

November 14, 2012 

Directed by Daniel Banks                                            
                                        by Daniel Banks
On November 14, 2012, a consortium of local arts organizations in Santa Fe, NM, hosted a reading of Caridad Svich's play SPARK with Teatro Paraguas, including DNAWORKS, Performing Arts Conservatory of the Southwest (PACS), and Santa Fe Art Institute. The storefront theatre was packed with an audience representing Santa Fe’s multiple populations whom do not typically interact in this way. Part of the draw was the actors’ contacts, part was the venue’s followers, and a major attraction was the subject matter with the promise of a dialogue afterwards with “local women impacted by war.”
The cast of New Mexico actors – including Nicole Gramlich, Kate Kita, Elias Gallegos, Nicholas Ballas and Lesley Reveles – inhabited the characters and the world of the play.  Guitarist Jaime Martinez provided transitions using the evocative melodies that Caridad provided, which the actors also sang.  There were audible gasps from the audience at particular moments of recognition and pathos. And the dialogue that followed, moderated by local writer/activist Lenore Gallegos, included a woman whose daughter is currently in basic training, the Vietnam veteran father of one of the actors, and one of the actors and her sister whose father and brother are both veterans.  The conversation focused on PTSD and how families also suffer from post-traumatic stress.  The audience had the opportunity to hear stories from within the larger Santa Fe community that many had not heard before; and veterans in the audience were also acknowledged and heard.
Nicolas Ballas, a local veteran actor who completely captured the role of Vaughn, shares:  “There's an unfolding in the acting process that occurs when I have the opportunity to breathe a voice into the words I have been given on a sheet of paper.  With SPARK, Vaughn's personal language was the voice of pain and damage wrapped in the lyrical drawl of the south.  It wasn't until I actually felt the language emerging from my body that I understood the man's shattered heart.  What a wonderful opportunity to share that discovery in a healing process with an audience!” 
And Stefany G. Burrows, the associate producer of the event, writes, “The play clearly moved the audience in a variety of ways, but particularly in terms of the plight of veterans returning from combat. I found the songs to be especially powerful as integral parts of the play and the characters.  I love how the dialogue moves so organically and swiftly – until it doesn't.  The rhythm of a play/scene is so critical, and this play makes great use of it. The relationships and the characters grow and change very believably. In the reading process, I was particularly struck by how invisible the female veterans are – at least here in NM.  Apparently one female vet who came to the reading left at intermission because she found it too stressful.  I wonder about whether and how these women are getting the help they need.  This play has the potential to bring this issue out into the open in a heartfelt and powerful way.  The experience overall deepened my concern for the men and women returning from combat.  As a Quaker, I cannot condone war in any way.  It is incomprehensible to me that we send anyone to war.  And I see the damage to our veterans.  I am appalled and grieved by it.”
Thank you to Caridad and No Passport for providing a forum for this timely and healing conversation, and for writing such powerful and haunting characters.  It is clear from the comments I have received that the people who were present at the reading and dialogue were changed by it.
Daniel Banks, 12-3-12
Daniel Banks is co-founder of DNAWORKS and the editor of Say Word!: Voices from Hip-Hop Theatre published by University of Michigan Press.  Daniel Banks, Ph.D., is a theatre director, choreographer, educator, and dialogue facilitator. He has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad, having directed at such notable venues as the National Theatre of Uganda (Kampala), the Belarussian National Drama Theatre (Minsk), The Market Theatre (Johannesburg, South Africa), the Hip Hop Theatre Festival (New York and Washington, D.C.), the Oval House (London), and served as choreographer/movement director for productions at New York Shakespeare Festival/Shakespeare in the Park, Singapore Repertory Theatre, La Monnaie/De Munt (Brussels), Landestheater (Saltzburg), Aaron Davis Hall (Harlem), and for Maurice Sendak/The Night Kitchen.

A Reflection on Spark in St. Louis

Conservatory of Theatre Arts, Webster University, St. Louis

November 20, 2012 

Directed by Michael Fling

                            by Michael Fling 

When I first received the draft of Spark, I was immediately nervous. Such contemporary pieces are not really my forte, and the topic of veterans returning home was not something I knew firsthand. However, at the core, Spark’s story is about family, and I’m a sucker for a good family drama. As the actors and I began to explore the text, we found how natural the dialogue was and how deeply we could go with the language. Since we did minimal staging, it was a treat for us to dive into the text and see how much we could bring out in the words. Because of this process, I felt liberated as a director and I really loved being able to share our finished product. However, it was the audience response that really made all of the work worthwhile. We were fortunate enough to have a group of female veterans attend the performance. After the reading, they walked up to our actors with tears in their eyes, with nothing but positive things to say about the play and our work and how important is was to them. Their reaction is what I’ll take away from the reading. At the end of the day, sharing veterans’ stories and their struggles proved more important to me than worrying about more elaborate staging or more perfectly crafted moments. As one of our audience members pointed out, “It’s refreshing to hear a story about war focused on female relationships and the personal sacrificing of families during and post war time.” We were grateful for the opportunity to participate in a project that allowed us to illuminate such stories and such heroes.

Michael Fling is currently a Sophomore in the Directing program at Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts. Some of his favorite directing credits include Into the Woods (Webster), The Music Man and Seussical (Brook Fine Arts) as well as assistant directing A Gnome for Christmas at The Repertory Theatre of St Louis. Michael also has extensive acting credits including Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Antipholus of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors, The Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, and Lt. Frank Cioffi in Curtains. Michael is continually thankful to his friends and family for their unending support and love. 


A Reflection on SPARK at UCSB

University of California-Santa Barbara

November 12, 2012

Directed by Kellyn Johnson, producer/dramaturg: Jackie Viskup

                                     by Kane Anderson 

Vaughn was one of the more difficult roles I’ve played. He offers a flicker of non-realism in a piece largely grounded in the aesthetic of realism. While the text does not provide an explicit statement of who/what Vaughn is, I conceived the role as the personification of all those soldiers returning from war. Unlike those other characters committed to a singularly personal point of view, Vaughn perceives Lexie’s situation as part of a larger panorama of Americans returning from war (alive or otherwise). 
Because we approached the play reading as Story Theatre, I remained onstage throughout the reading, and shared the stage directions with the audience. This provided Vaughn with the appearance of limited omniscience so I played the role as though he knew the answers even before he asked Lexie the questions. He knows what Lexie feels because he’s seen it (lived it?) in many others before this interaction. But at the same time, Vaughn recognizes that each story is precious and personal. Each moment he shares with Lexie is in honorable service to those who no longer have moments to share. 
While the play ends with a suggestion that reintegration is possible, the outcomes for Lexie are still uncertain. My objective in her scene with Vaughn concerned helping Lexie make her choice about whether to go on living and fighting and suffering, or end it all in a mighty splash. I spoke with our director Kellyn and our dramaturg Jackie about how we didn’t see the encounter with Vaughn as a “talking cure” for all that ails Lexie; instead, this scene actualizes Lexie’s difficult step on a longer journey. It was important to me that Vaughn be open to either possible outcome from his exchange. Even though he encourages her to go on living and keep fighting, he will honor Lexie no matter what. He does not judge. He’s seen too much. 
It’s not lost on me that in the case of Lexie—and many other returning soldiers—a whole new fight begins after the battling ends. I found in Vaughn’s speeches a bit of appreciation for Christian suffering. With the concept of suffering as redemptive and transformative guiding me, I discovered the link in how the boot camp/drill sergeant imagery transitions to a Southern preacher’s spirited rousing. With this, I encountered a spiritual component in military service that felt very special to me, the actor. I confess that I’m embarrassingly out of touch of what a warrior in our armed services faces both at home and away. The realization of this spirituality, and the bond built from the shared experiences that so few can ever understand, humbled me. 
Playing Vaughn in this Veteran’s Day reading of SPARK at UCSB allowed me in some small way to give back to a community that I’ve regrettably allowed, or even unwittingly encouraged, to become invisible. To those men and women of our armed forces: while I cannot repay what you’ve given, you give us all hope. The least we can do is give some back to you.
Kane Anderson is an actor, teacher, and scholar studying popular culture and performance. He will complete his PhD at UC Santa Barbara this year with his dissertation titled "Truth, Justice and the Performative Way!" Superhero Performance and Anxieties of Cultural Change in 21st Century America. He also holds an MFA in Theatre Performance from Arizona State University and teaches acting, directing, and writing. 

A Reflection on SPARK in Boston (#2)

Atomic Age Theatre and Emerson College, Boston, MA

October 30, 2012

Directed by Noelle Vinas

                                                     by Noelle Vinas

I’m from Northern Virginia. That normally means privilege, government jobs, military money, and one of the most affluent areas of the United States. That’s not all it means to me, it is home – but these factors are constantly there. Many of the best friends I had growing up were of military families, of varying economic status, and many of them moved somewhere new every three years. A life serving your country really means a life serving your country. It is in every aspect of what you do, and it is not ever just an individual commitment – everyone else who loves you and those who love you make that commitment too.
I only had to say one or two sentences for my wonderful cast to understand this. Alexandria Moorman (Emerson College ’12), Jacob Plummer (Emerson College ’14), Natasha Karp (Emerson College ’14) and Zelda Gay (Emerson College ’14), understood these were intrinsic truths in the script. In our reading at Emerson, they treated the script with the care it demanded because it carried them. Our audience (one of the largest I’ve ever seen for a staged reading at Emerson) was similarly reverent, and in turns, amused and moved. This meant something to each of us, and we all identified – whether we were from a military family or not. These women’s different roles, each a fighter in a different way, spoke truth – regardless of proximity to situation. And that was a gift we were all able to share. Coming back home to Virginia for Thanksgiving, I am struck by the idea that Spark doesn’t just come to mind because the US Armed Forces have been a part of my life since my parents and I immigrated to the Washington, D.C. Area. SPARK comes to mind because it is about family, sacrifice, and understanding. And whether we’re from Virginia or Massachusetts, we can all connect to that.