The Panza Monologues

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Teatro Vivo presents the Austin premiere of
The Panza Monologues
Telling our truths straight from the panza.

Written, compiled and collected by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga
Directed and performed by Florinda Bryant and Deanna Deolloz
with Eva Mc Quade

Performances are February 5 – 21 Thurs – Sat. 8pm and February 8 and 15 Sunday 2pm
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street Austin TX 78701
Free parking is available to audience members.

Tickets $20 – $14. Tickets are available online at http://panza.bpt.me or you may purchase at the theatre starting 30 min before the performance time. Thursdays are “pay what you wish” only at the theatre box office beginning 30 minutes before show time.

Panzas! Women – even wise Latinas – are obsessed about it. Some make their peace with it, while others just suck it in. While nutritionists and politicians alike weigh in on the imperious, impossible, belly or panza, as it is tenderly known in Spanish, Chicana playwrights and cultural workers Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga have something to say about its power for emotional and political liberation.
The Panza Monologues is an original performance piece based on women’s stories about their panzas. Tu sabes – that roll of belly we all try to hide. Conceived from kitchen table conversations and chisme and compiled from interviews of Chicanas of all ages, places, and spaces, these stories create a quilt of poignancy, humor, and revelation. Performed in monologue format and riffing on Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues, The Panza Monologues boldly places the panza front and center as a symbol that reveals the lurking truths about women’s thoughts, lives, loves, abuses, and lived conditions. It boldly interconnects women’s health, their body image, and social justice issues. The production has received critical acclaim in front of standing-room audiences who laugh, cry, and scream in panza-truth-telling solidarity.Austin theatre artists, Florinda Bryant and Deanna Deolloz, direct the production. Both are also performers in the production along with Eva Mc Quade.
Mature topics. Recommended for ages 13 yrs and older. Parental discretion advised.

For more information on Teatro Vivo visit our web site teatrovivo.org.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/teatrovivoaustintx
Twitter – @teatrovivotx
For more information on the playwrights and the publication of the Panza Monologues visit Panzamonologues.com

This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

Diversity in Friendships

I glanced up from where I was writing this blog post and took a quick look at my two roommates watching TV in the living room. It’s around 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Each one of us has just returned from either studying on campus or attending meetings for the organizations that we’re a part of. One an athletic, short-haired American with striking hazel-colored eyes and ivory-(almost translucent) colored skin. The other a tall, slender, American-Indian (with distinct Korean ancestry) that looks at you with beautiful honey-colored eyes. Then you have me: a petite, too-skinny, thick-haired and big-brown-eyed Mexican. While these are just simple descriptions that attempt to portray my roommates and I, each one of us could not be more different from the other.

Aside from the fact that each one of us has had a different upbringing, we each have different tastes and interests. Sobia -the American-born Indian- enjoys snacking on edamame while Addy and I prefer snacking on near-empty bags of Goldfish and Veggie Chips. People who are unwilling to go and get to know others from a different culture, are empty in the sense that they are missing something: a differing perspective AND enriching friendships.

Despite the fact that I live in Austin (a city where diversity is easily noticeable),  most of the students at UT do an exceptional job of becoming acquaintances with people from different backgrounds and then turning these friendship pursuits into genuine friendships. If these acquaintances do turn into friendships, it’s because of similar interests. I know that earlier I said that my roommates and I have different tastes and interests, but as different as some of our interests are, we also share a lot of similar interests. Just like the three fairy-drag-queens in “Aye, No!”, all three of us utilize our differences and similarities and benefit from them. Our different personalities work well together, whether it’s to help one another out or to aid somebody in need.

All three of us love listening to artists such as Mumford and Sons, Foster the People, and occasionally having a dance party to Taylor Swift (pre-”1989”). The beauty of our friendship is that we all benefit from one another’s different cultural backgrounds and upbringings. Sobia makes a mean Kimichi Fried Chicken dish (courtesy of her mother’s recipe), I enjoy making Enchiladas Verdes, and Addy spoils us with her poached egg and potato hash breakfast. Needless to say, I will always be grateful of our willingness to step outside of our comfort zone and befriend one another that fateful day in our advertising class.

We can’t wait to see you and all your friends at “Aye, No!” out NOW! 

Dia De Los Muertos

When I hear someone talk about Dia De Los Muertos it’s easy for me to immediately  think of beautifully decorated sugar skulls put on display in the “Seasonal” section of convenience stores. This past week alone I’ve seen at least 10 individual photos on Instagram of my friends’ finished attempts at painting their faces, trying to make them resemble ornate skulls. Although each one of their face paintings have turned out looking incredible, most do not know why this is done by the Mexican culture every single time it nears Halloween. Even I, as mentioned earlier, sometimes forget to remember the significance of Dia De Los Muertos.

Those who do not know the meaning behind it think of it as the “Mexican version” of Halloween, and in some ways it is. Similar to Halloween, this holiday gathers family members and friends together. What sets both holidays apart is that Dia De Los Muertos focuses on gathering family members and friends to pray, remember, and celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Rather than make it a somber remembrance for those who have died it is a celebration of their life. Halloween, on the other hand, is said to use “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death”. The belief with BOTH of these holidays is that the spirits of the deceased are able to come back to earth. This day is a transition between our world and the world of the dead.

I won’t be going into extreme detail over everything related to Dia De Los Muertos, but I do think it would be beneficial to list key information for those who aren’t familiar with this holiday. Next time someone brings up Dia De Los Muertos you can impress them with some newfound knowledge:

  • This day has its origins in Aztec, Mayan, and other Meso-American Civilizations.
  • Individuals believe that souls of the dead rest in Mictlan, the land of the dead, and wait for the day each year when they can return to visit their loved ones.
  • It is a two-day celebration that takes place on the 1st and continues throughout the 2nd of November.
  • Nov. 1st is Dia De Los Inocentes. A day to honor children and infants who have died. It is sometimes referred to as Dia De Los Angelitos, or “Day of the Little Angels”
  • Nov. 2nd is the actual “Day of the Dead”.
  • To celebrate, people build ofrendas, or altars, that are decorated with items that are said to be attractive to souls of the departed ones (this is where the decorated skulls come in). Other items include offerings of flowers, old possessions, and photographs.
  • Orange marigolds, the Aztec’s flower of the dead, is used to entice the dead.
  • Skull-face painting is based off of a sketching by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada entitled “La Calavera Catrina”.

Posada2.Catrina

We’re dying to see you at “Aye, No!” this coming November!

You Can Pick Your Friends, But You Can’t Pick Family

“Families are like fudge… mostly sweet, with lots of nuts.”

No family lives the perfect life. Think for a second of the movies “Cheaper By the Dozen”, “Freaky Friday”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, and even TV shows such as “Parenthood” and “Modern Family”. What do all these have in common? Other than providing us with some good laughs? They all have those loving family members – mom, dad, brother, sister, etc. – who meddle into one of their family member’s lives and frustrate them to no end. At the end of the day (or episode) however, it’s impossible for them to stay irritated at whoever did the meddling. The love they feel for their family members is unparalleled.

I come from a family of five, including myself. Although most of my family lives in Mexico, we are lucky enough to have a few family members living here in Texas. My grandparents from my mom’s side visit us about 5 times a year from Mexico City. Just like Alicia’s loving grandmother in the upcoming play, “Aye, No!”, my abuelita is also unfortunately somewhat nosey. About three years ago, around the time I started dating my boyfriend, my abuelita (during every single visit) would constantly ask me to bring him around. I would always make up some excuse as to why he wasn’t ever able to visit – which was quite awful of me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my abuelita meet him, I just knew that when they met my boyfriends would spend the entire visit being bombarded with questions. She sometimes feels the need to make precautionary “background checks” on people who become involved with any family member. I knew I would eventually have to oblige to her requests. It was a miracle that my abuelita did not scare him off…

They have loved you through your worst and will continue to love you through all your successes. Whether you have a big, enormous, can’t-fit-all-of-them-in-one-panoramic-picture, forget-some-of-their-names-on-occasion family or your family is smaller and can be counted using just your fingers and toes, they are truly a blessing to have. Regardless of the size of your family, great memories are always made with your family members.

Don’t forget to bring your abuelita to “Aye, No!” beginning November 6!

Teatro Vivo presents Aye, No! By Liz Coronado Castillo

 

Teatro Vivo presents the Austin premiere of

Aye, No!
one abuelita, two tías, and three fairy drag queens

a bilingual comedy written by Liz Coronado Castillo and directed by Ricky Ramon

Performances are November 6 – 23, 2014 Thurs – Sat. 8pm Sunday 2pm

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street Austin TX 78701

A pass for free parking is available to audience members.

Tickets $20 – $14. Tickets are available online at http://ayeno.bpt.me

or at the theatre 1 hour before the performance time.

Thursdays are “pay what you wish” at the box office the day of the performance.

Aye, No! is a bilingual comedy that sincerely addresses sexual identity. The play takes place in a small Texas border town. Alicia is coming home from college with a “friend” for her family to meet. The trouble begins when her loving abuelita (grandma) and well-intentioned nosey tías (aunts) assume that Alicia is bringing home a boyfriend or fiancé. Aye, No! What her loving familia doesn’t know is that she s bringing home her girlfriend, Kathy. Alicia does really want to secure her family’s acceptance and turns to her three fabulous fairy-drag-queen friends for guidance. What happens? How about some powerful curanderismo magic that will cure her of the “gay”? Aye, No!

The playwright, Liz Coronado Castillo, identifies herself as a Chicana theatre artist, lesbian and educator. She strives to bring to the stage the stories and characters that filled her own childhood and that surround her today. She views theatre as a social, political, and cultural platform and a space where audiences can dive into critical issues such as race, sexuality, class, ethnicity and the area in which they all intersect. The border and the intricacies of living in two different worlds at once inspire her work. She is the resident playwright at Sul Ross University in Alpine TX.

The cast for this production includes, Patricia Eakin, Martinique Duchene, Leah Luna,

Eva McQuade, Lori Navarrete and Jesus Valles-Morales. Very special guest performers joining the cast as the three fairy drag queens include Austin’s finest drag queen performance artists, Kelly Kline, Gemini Dai and Althea Trix.

For more information on Teatro Vivo visit our web site teatrovivo.org .

This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

A Look Back at Vecinos

Vecinos, written by one of Teatro Vivo’s very own founders, Rupert Reyes, is a play that captures unforgettable bits of life, such as discovering love and passion again, and which reflects the timeless truth that love is closer than you think. Vecinos first premiered in Febrary 2008 at the Mexican American Culture Center in downtown Austin. The show was reproduced this summer, and ran from July 31st through August 17th. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask a few questions to the playwright and one of the actors himself, Rupert, on his inspiration to write the play and the rewards earned from working on such a piece.

What was your inspiration for writing Vecinos?

I wrote as a tribute to my Dad.  I was inspired by the love he had for my Mom, who died when I was 7 years old and his second wife, my Mom, who we call Susie, who he married 7 years later.  They went everywhere together.  He treated her like a queen and I can tell you that I never saw them argue.  Maybe they did, but I don’t recall it.  My dad was a gentleman and very intelligent.  He read the paper and went back to school when he was in his 50’s to learn to read and write better.  He had nine kids and 7 of us have degrees from the University of Texas.  His devotion to his first wife my mom, is now eternal as he wanted to be buried next to her and he is.

What is it like to be an actor in something you’ve written and spent a lot of time on?

It really is no different than doing a play written by someone else.  This is due to my writing style or inspiration, not sure what to call it.  What happens in my writing is that I will find a story line, something someone says, and idea (like the love my Dad had for the two women in his life, Vecinos) and then characters begin to appear who want me to tell the story through their view.  I find myself having to type very quickly to keep up with the dialogue.  I really do see it in my head as a TV show or a movie.  So even learning lines from my script is the same task as learning the lines in any play.  There is one thing, since I have seen the play in my head, sometimes the choice the director makes goes against what my characters told me.  So, I sort of gently nudge the director toward a different choice or the choice I saw in my head.

What sells you on certain people as opposed to others, especially regarding your own work? 

Are you talking about artistic choices?  Like directors, actors, designers?  If so, it is people who I have worked with and enjoyed those processes.  For others, new people, it is a sense or intuition that they are the right choice for this show.  I have made mistakes and brought people on board who had to be fired or quit but this is rare.  We have a specific way of working.  When people come on board with Teatro Vivo, we tell them about our unofficial motto.  “When this is all over, we want everyone, those in the show, the volunteers, the venue personnel and the audience to all say, ‘We want you to come back.’ ”  So it you are being negative or uncooperative, you are talked to. We do a “Cena” before each production where we bring everyone who is working on the show together, actors, designers and crew and introduce them to each other and let them know that no one is more important in the show.  That we need everyone in order to be successful.  And that we appreciate that they are the ones in this show. 

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing Vecinos to the stage?

The set.  When I wrote this, I really had in mind two complete apartments.  And the doors are very important in this play as they allow people to escape or enter into new experiences.  Doors are very difficult to build and we never got the shake out of ours for this show.   We have had more comments, positive ones about this set than any we have done before.  Our designer made the set inviting and due to the space, the venue, people feel like they are in the living room with the characters.  And then the narrator invites them in as well.  We had to create this space and feel like we succeeded.

What is one of the most rewarding memories of this experience?

There are many rewarding memories.  Wow, choosing the most?  Tough.  I think I would say that during a talk back, a woman sitting with her mother raised her hand and said that the play had opened her mind and heart.  That it would be okay if her mom, who was a widow, wanted to seek some companionship.  That it made her realize that we all have the capacity to love again and does not diminish the love we had for our first partner.  I write plays to make folks think and ask new questions about issues that are important to our community.  To seek solutions.  I was touched that the impact of this play was so immediate and that the person felt free to share it in the “community” known as the audience.

To end, here’s an anecdote straight from Rupert—enjoy!

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between 2 “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.

Austin Latino New Play Festival Spotlight: Dramaturge Brianna Figueroa

 

Brianna Figueroa was the dramaturge for Luchadora, which debuted on May 9, 2014, at the Mexican American Cultural Center in downtown Austin. After the show, I caught up with Brianna to ask her some questions about theatre, her job as a dramaturge, and of course, “Luchadora”! Brianna is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin.

How did you become involved with Teatro Vivo?

I’ve worked as a dramaturge on a number of various productions at UT and was referred to Teatro Vivo by a professor/mentor who knew that my interest in Latina/o performance and representation coincided Teatro Vivo’s mission.

What are the main duties of a dramaturge?

Dramaturges have many jobs and that can differ form production to production. Often, being a dramaturg is about making sure the playwright and director have access to the research and thoughful feedback they need to be able to produce their best work.

What was the most challenging aspect of being a dramaturge for Luchadora specifically?

Time! Luchadora went up on a very tight time scale. Such time constraints can be useful because they encourage production teams to rely on gut reactions and really push forward, but naturally-they also limit the amount of critical engagement that can lead to the evolution of a play, especially one that is still in progress like Luchadora.

What is the scene that you connected with the most in Luchadora?

I was struck by a primary theme in Luchadora. In the play, the female characters struggle against customary gender roles that threaten to keep them from developing their talents. I’m currently watching my own goddaughter, a curious, opinionated, and athletic third grader go through the same thing. It’s hard seeing how some of the people who love her the most want to steer her away from being too “tomboy” because of tradition. In Luchadora the young girls are precocious, strong, and capable, even when the odds are against them- showing how flimsy tradition can be sometimes.

What are your plans after graduating from the University of Texas?

I am a Ph.D. student at UT. When I finally reach my graduation date I’ll be looking to teach, research, and continue my artistic practice in a university setting.

Has working on Luchadora given you a different perspective on anything regarding Latino/a culture and traditions?

Luchadora makes room to both celebrate and be constructively critical of Latina/o culture. I appreciate that the playwright, Alvaro Saar Rios, creates lovable characters that are imperfect. Latinos are invited to see their own culture joyfully reflected on stage but also consider the ways that we exclude or make harmful boundaries for some, particularly women, within our communities.

Ding, ding, ding! Luchadora in the Ring!

Luchadora, written by Alvaro Saar Rios, was the second play to be debuted at the Austin Latino New Play Festival during mid-May.

Luchadora opens with a scene between a grandmother, Lupita, and her granddaughter having a conversation and eventually discussing a certain briefcase in which Vanessa finds a lucahdor mask hidden inside. Lupita embarks on a remarkable story dating back to the summer of 1953 when she, too, also discovered the secret of the mask. One summer day, Lupita begs her father to allow her to take his briefcase to mask maker, a secretive and tough woman who knows all about the best luchador of all time, Mascara Rosa. Eventually, Lupita discovers that her mother was Mascara Rosa and asks the mask maker to train her secretly behind her father’s back. In a touching story about a bond between father and daughter over the love for lucha libre and women empowerment, Luchadora is a unique play that focuses on one of the most beloved sports in Latino culture and captures a certain reality of the individuals involved in it.

Austin Latino New Play Festival Spotlight: Director Emily Aguilar-Thomas

Emily Aguilar-Thomas was the director for Cielito Lindo and is a Master’s of Fine Arts Candidate (MFA) in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities at the University of Texas at Austin. Her expected completion is May 2015. After the showing of the play, Emily gladly opened up for Teatro Vivo and gave insight into her job as a director, her connection to performances, and her love for theatre.

  1. What was the catalyst that influenced you to pursue theatre/fine arts in college and as a career?  

The school that I went to for elementary and middle school growing up in Arizona didn’t have theatre at all, so when I moved to a new school in New York in 7th grade I remember seeing my first ever theatre production.  It blew my mind. I thought, “I have to do this.” I always loved to sing, that’s how I started in the arts (my idol was Selena), but this was different.  So I was in the drama club all through junior high and high school, and decided I could never give theatre up– and shouldn’t have to.  I applied for scholarships and was fortunate enough to attend a university with a really strong theatre program. In college, I realized that I wasn’t seeing stories of my experience represented at all– professionally or at my school.  So for me, there are several things that have contributed to me pursuing theatre: I love the art form, I love what the art form is capable of, and I love that theatre is a vessel through which people can show and make stories visible that are often silenced. It’s an act of social justice putting the Latino/a and Chicano/a experience on stage.

 

  1. How did you become involved with Teatro Vivo? 

One of my professors and mentors, Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, introduced me to JoAnn Carreon Reyes with the hope that I could somehow become involved, last year. So that same year I served as the dramaturg for the ALNPF production of Quince…What?  This year JoAnn asked me if I was interested again, but as a director this time.  When I read Cielito Lindo, there were so many aspects of the script that I could relate to my own lived experiences. I was excited to be a part of the development process from a different angle.

  1. What was your main job as director for Cielito Lindo?  

I saw my main job as bringing the playwrights’ words to life, and helping the actors navigate how they might do that. I was really excited by the idea of 3 distinct worlds within this play– the Valdez family home, the romantic past for Effren and Dora, and the Playground where Sky/Florencia is bullied. So I wanted to make sure that since that was clearly something the playwright wanted, it was my job to make those worlds clear for the audience. I also thought it was important to be in dialogue with the dramaturg, Oscar Franco, to see how we might make the story and words more specific to this particular world and these particular characters.

  1. What is your favorite scene from Cielito Lindo? 

My favorite scene is when Sky/Florencia tells her Abuelo that she wants to be a bird. There’s this great dialogue around what it means to have two homes, or to know which one is your “real” home. To me that spoke to this split identity that many Mexican American’s have– we’re both American and also Mexican. So we’re balancing these two identity markers, and sometimes we are caught in between, or not sure which one we’re supposed to call “home.”

 5. What are you most excited about following graduation? 

Knowing what’s next! Being in grad school feels very in limbo for me.  I’m a student, an artist, a teacher, a wife. I want to know what’s coming next– what my job will be, where I’ll live– and focus on doing.

6. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Is this question going to get me a job? 🙂

I love doing many things, but there are a couple of things that I will always need to be working within– social justice, and theatre.

So, given that, I think my ideal job would be somehow creating opportunities for marginalized people to create and share their stories through theatre and the arts. An arts and/or cultural organization. Something in that realm.  

7. How do you think being Latina enhances and/or influences your experiences with performances that are geared toward or based upon the culture, lifestyle, and possible struggles of being Latino/a?  

I think in general people want to make and find connections– it’s how we build relationships.  When I’m seeing a show, I want to find things that I can connect to, that I can laugh at, that I can look at and say, “Yes, I know that. I recognize that.” I love when I see a show and I can relate to something– but it doesn’t happen enough. So when I do find something that I can connect to my lived experiences, it’s a delight! I feel proud, I feel included, I feel welcomed and valued. That’s why I love working with Teatro Vivo, and making theatre that honors those voices.

Sky’s the Limit: A Look At Cielito Lindo

Cielito Lindo, written by Stephany Cavazos, debuted at the Austin Latino New Play Festival on May 8, 2014. 

Cielito Lindo follows the story of Florencia “Sky,” a Latina schoolgirl growing up in Texas during the mid to late 20th Century. For Skye, school is not only a place for learning— it is a scary place wrought with bullies who make fun of her Latina roots, the center point of this harassment being her name. While school is a war zone for Skye, her home acts as a safe haven and fantasy due to her grandparents’ retelling of their love story from years past. One day, after a long night full of storytelling, a new boy, Dylan, becomes a student at the elementary and befriends Sky. Sky and Dylan become the new targets for the three bullies, which acts as a catalyst for Sky to question her identity and turn her back on Dylan. After a heart-to-heart conversation with Abuelo Efren while fishing, Skye quickly realizes that she would never change who she is or who she befriends just to please the so-called popular friends at school.

Cielito Lindo is a play that intertwines the struggle of growing up Latina, the nostalgic and familiar love story of two individuals, and the blessings that come with true friendship.