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Amparo Garcia-Crow talks 30/30

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.  

 

 

 

 

 

glow - a poem by Caridad Svich

glow
by Caridad Svich
 
(for Thanksgiving 2013)
 
1.
 
in wintry dark
the spectral ire
of mischief
folds the night.
 
reverie
and silent tears,
a glass of wine or two
 
to friends lost
others won,
to others fast and true,
and talk of this and that rare book
held in the heart with rue.
 
it is said that thanks
is more than Fridays black
and Wednesdays red,
but little else is in the news
 
save for the pale rage
and ghastly scorn
of typhoon Haiyan's residue.
 
bitter tears
amongst the vanished
and those now left to muddle through
without homes
or clothes to wear
or even a cup of brew.
 
a lonely pall
a mournful call
 
what will we say we knew
when records show
this day of thanks
levelled another home or two?
 
 
2.
 
in cities wide
across the miles
she sits in some corner booth
 
the forgotten girl
of yesterday's reel
the image of slender youth
 
remembered now for
a commercial's smile
and a viral misstep or two
 
in sudden morn
o'er brow forlorn
she rests upon the proof
 
of surveillance's dawn
lingering on
a march of privacy's mis-use.
 
who is she now?
 
who are the others
in this calamitous parade,
 
where rights are lost
at mighty cost
while someone somewhere gets paid?
 
who renders this
the everyday?
 
how is it one cannot choose?
 
did someone win
this battle waged
called once a health care boost? 
 
beg my tone
she cries at night
while others hang loose
 
i once recall
a lovely fall
of promises and truth.
 
 
3.
 
an ocean's tide
a fine paid twice
the poor remain the poor
 
as countless more
surrender scores
of bits and files in view.
 
"the cloud is full."
"a portal blew"
will be deliverance's cue
 
for a reign of tales
told to those
who will in time make news,
 
while we sit 
before sorrow's bits
in our humble pews.
 
4.
 
pray those that went
and those that came
while we praised the crews
 
who touched down
with grace
and called that foul
and let the world suspend
 
in games and songs
sung loud and long
with no hidden acumen.
 
oh reason, world,
do not forget
the waves of those you blessed.
 
stir not the fire
of greed's callous desire
to render even more dispossessed.
 
for if the 99 are here
multiplied ten thousand fold
then listen now
to their vows
their truths need be told.
 
5.
 
pretty things
are pretty still
but they leave me pretty cold,
 
when i see that man,
woman or child
left unconsoled
on streets of mist
ice and rain
no legends here to behold,
 
save the endless one
of power's song
and resignation's hue.
 
another day,
cry you one,
let down by the many
and few
 
pray we learn
this lesson true
rather than make a show
 
of rancorous bluster
and impressive woe
to chastise history's wounds
 
 
we are it
there's no one else
to call on
in the morning dew
 
we are history.
gather round.
for in the debter's prison
salvation's overdue.
 
candle lit.
bargain struck.
flicker.
 
that's all we knew.

some thoughts on poetry and life by Caridad Svich

some thoughts on poetry and life
 
As I have said before, to me, poetry and drama are twins. I have translated poetry and written/write it. It is for many a fearsome form, but I think it is only because over the years poetry has much of the time been set aside in culture (outside of spoken word, where it is/has been in culture) and made to seem an "elitist" form. Quite the contrary. Poets ask the deep questions of and about our culture, histories and world. The demands of language - formal or in the vernacular- are bountiful. Novelist and essayist Jeanette Winterson talks about how when she visits small towns in her country of England, she often encounters amongst the older generation in particularly folks who can recite poems from memory at the drop of a hat, and these are not poets but just, you know, "regular" folks like or me. Winterson has remarked in her writings that the generations that were taught in school to memorize poems - to put them to heart- on a fairly regular basis, and thus came to poetry as a living, breathing form, made poetry part of their lives. It was not an elitist practice from a writer or readers perspective. It's when poetry was made "special" (again to paraphrase Winterson) that it became the nearly exclusive province of the academy and academic poets, which is a shame indeed, for poetry belongs to us all because it teaches us to face the tough world with language that is precise, muscular, sharp, and laser-focused.
 
In our everyday lives, poetry is most often experienced, unless you move amongst the world of arts and letters, through ceremonies: the Presidential Inaugural, elegies, weddings, songs of praise, hymns, and sometimes, song lyrics (though not ALL song lyrics are poetry). The public art movement has initiatives for poetry in the streets, most often through the posting of poems on subway cars and other publicly transited areas.
 
When I write poetry, it usually stems from a desire to articulate something about the condition of the world that I cannot articulate in any other way but through a poem. It couldn't be an essay or prose piece or dramatic scene. It has to be a poem because the intimate quality of the poetry allows for a different expression of thought and feeling. Eminent poet Mark Doty talks often about how poetry "is feeling." Its pure expression in abstract terms, because of course, as we all know, language is a system of signs and already an abstraction. Poetry crystallizes emotion. It distills it. Down to the bone. And sometimes, if you are influenced by William Blake, Rimbaud and more, toward the ecstatic, feverish and rhapsodic. New Jersey's own Patti Smith talks about that in her memoir Just Kids.
 
The songwriter and musician Lou Reed passed away recently. While many of us in the world of arts and music mourned his loss and recognized the impact of his legacy, it is also true that part of that legacy is a poetic one. Not all of his wide body of work, of course, was poetry, but some of it was, and the ferocity and sharpness of his approach to the lyric (influenced by his own love of poetry and prose stylists) is rather a lesson that outlives his passing.
 
The great Doris Lessing also passed away recently and to witness, even from afar, and through her vast body of work, was another lesson in how to keep striving, changing, challenging the form itself and making all of us see anew. Consider how many lives Lessing altered when people read The Golden Notebooks alone!
 
So, I was thinking last night deep into the wee hours about Lou Reed and Doris Lessing and poetry and poetic lives - and how writing can and does save us, at its best, if we meet it full-on, and not shy away from it or treat it as a soft machine to merely get by.
 
Writing may be all we got, to use the vernacular. Its power is in our hands.
 
Caridad Svich
 
November 27, 2013

Video trailer is now live at http://vimeo.com/79178707 

Jarman (all this maddening beauty).
by Caridad Svich

Director John Moletress for force/collision ensemble
 
a performance project inspired by the life and work of queer artist Derek Jarman.

Filmed by Ben Carver.
In video: Stephen Benedicto. 

More information: force-collision.org/jarman 

First workshop performances: April 17-27, 2014 at Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. (USA)

Severed Moon at the Lark

Lark Play Development Center US-Mexico Exchange presents
SEVERED MOON
(LUNA DESMEMBRADA)
by Alberto Castillo
Translated by Caridad Svich
Directed by Debbie Saivetz
on December 15, 2013 at 7 PM
Guadalupe’s son has disappeared. She must find him before the world comes to an end. Will she spend the rest of her days searching, and will he continue to run away from her, as if from a demon? (approx. 75 mins.) Reservations now at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/mexicous-playwright-exchange-program-2013-tickets-8836501213

A CAUTIONARY TAIL AND OTHER PLAYS

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:
 
NoPassport
Dreaming the Americas Series
 
 

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/184516-The-Workshop-Theater-to-Present-Stop-Gun-Violence-NOW-Theater-Festival-Honoring-One-Year-Anniversary-of-Newtown-Tragedy

By Carey Purcell

15 Nov 2013 

The Stop Gun Violence NOW Theater Festival will honor the one-year anniversary of the Newtown massacre and its 26 victims Dec. 12-15 at The Workshop Theater.

Presented by Adina Taubman and Chrysalis Theatre Company, the festival will present four days of theatre, including plays, docu-theatre, one acts and panel discussions, centered around the themes of gun violence and gun control.

Featured works include A Line in the Sand, a one-person docudrama by Adina Taubman based on interviews conducted in Littleton, CO, in 1999 following the massacre at Columbine High School; 9MM America, a docudrama written and performed by 10 young women and girls between the ages 12-21, based on their experiences with gun violence in New York City neighborhoods where it is a daily threat; Bang Bang You're Dead, a one-act play about a fictional school shooting performed by high school students in New Jersey by William Mastrosimone; 13 short plays from the collection 24 Gun Control Plays and several new one acts written by members of Chrysalis Theatre Company; and The Sandy Hook Theatre Project, which showcases poetry, prose, music and interviews written by the Newtown, CT, community, examining the town before, during the moments of, and after the tragedy.

The panel discussions will include "How to Prevent Gun Violence in New York City and other Urban Areas," "How to Create Theatre for Social Change," "How to Take Legislative and Political Action," "How Parents and Kids Can Talk to Each Other about Gun Violence" and "How Survivors, Families, and Communities Recover From Gun Violence and Move Forward." 

A special tribute event to the 26 victims of the Newtown massacre and their families will be held Dec. 14 at 8:30 PM.

All of the ticket proceeds will be donated to the local gun control organizations that are sponsoring the festival: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Organizing for Action and Harlem Mothers SAVE.

Tickets and more information are available by visiting SGVNowFest.com.

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
 

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