A Cultura Series Post: Día de Los Muertos

By: Paige Velasquez

The Latino community is gearing up to celebrate the tradition that originated in Mexico, Día de los Muertos. On October 31, November 1 and 2, we celebrate the cycle of life and the loved ones that have passed.

Bright colored ofrendas are displayed around cemeteries and festivals to honor loved ones.  The ofrendas display pictures and memorabilia and are decorated with candles, marigolds, sugar skulls and flowers along with the deceased’s favorite foods. It is believed that lighting the candles will help loved one’s souls find their way back home.

Calaveras are a popular symbol for the holiday. These sugar skulls are crafted and given as gifts to both the living and the dead. Many that attend the Día de Los Muertos festivities paint their faces like sugar skulls and dress in costume. You can find Día de Los Muertos makeup tutorials and ofrendas ideas on Teatro Vivo’s Pinterest page under the “¡Enfiestate! Special Feature: Día de Los Muertos” board.

Austin is a multicultural city and offers various community events during the Día de Los Muertos’ festivities. These community events involve processions, shrines, live music, food, traditional dancing and costume contests.  Here are a few you might want to check out:

  • Show off your classic ride and celebrate Día de Los Muertos at MACC on Nov. 2
  • Join the procession for Día de Los Muertos Round Rock on Nov. 2 at Centennial Plaza
  • Participate in making an alter de muertos to honor your loved ones. Presented by Austin Public Library’s Literature Live, Noche de Muertos is on Oct. 30 at Southeast Branch

Cultura: Hecho con Amor

teatro vivo

(Photo by: www.number-2-pencil.com)

This year, Hispanic Heritage Month was celebrated from September 15th  through October 15th. Some gathered with la familia, others with fiestas y música. No matter the tradition, food is always on the table. What better way to relive Hispanic Heritage Month than by appreciating our heritage’s food?

For the on-the-go cook or busy stay-at-home mom, we found a simple recipe that has minimum prep time and leisure to cook from your morning cup of coffee to family dinnertime. The recipe below makes the equivalent of two large cans of store bought enchilada sauce.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce in the Slow Cooker

Makes enough sauce for two 9×13 pans of enchiladas


2 large yellow onions

4 jalapenos

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 cup of chili powder

3 tablespoons of cumin

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 32 oz cans of tomato sauce

2 cups of chicken broth

2 teaspoons of Better Than Bullion

1 teaspoon of salt

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro


1. Cut onions in half and remove skins. Cut jalapenos in half and remove seeds. Note: Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and wash hands immediately. You can also use gloves to handle the jalapenos.

2. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook 8 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high. Stir once during cooking time to make sure spices are disbursed throughout the sauce.

3. Strain sauce through a colander and discard onions, garlic, and jalapeno.

4. Optional, stir in two tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

5. Divide sauce and set aside or freeze 1/2 for later use.

This recipe was found on justimagine-ddoc.com For more recipes, visit Teatro Vivo’s Pinterest page and check our “Hecho con Amor: comida de casa” board.

Meet Yadira De La Riva

Teatro Vivo is honored to present “One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican ‘American’ Border,” a one woman show written and performed by Yadira De La Riva.

Yadira De La Riva is an artista and educator from El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and was an intern for Theater of the Oppressed in Brazil in 2002. She has taught theater workshops in California, New York, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Ethiopia. Yadira recently obtained her Master’s Degree in Artivism: Performance as Cultural Resistance at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study as a Newington-Cropsey Fellow. As part of her Master’s thesis she wrote, performed and produced “One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican ‘American’ Border.”

Photo by: Noé Lomelí; Graphic by: Monica Rodriguez

This is Yadira’s Journey:

I began writing for theater in a creative effort to understand my identity as an American from the U.S./Mexico borderland of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Living on the margins of the United States and Mexico, I often felt ignored or completely overlooked by mainstream media in both countries. What did it mean for me to live in a small community divided by a fence that separated my family by nationality, and for us to compromise our cultural heritages depending on what side of the border we were on and for our bi-national lifestyles to be directly impacted by border enforcement every day?

Theater has provided the vehicle for me to address U.S./Mexico border identity and issues such as immigration, labor, femicide (mass killing of women) and the recent war on drugs. These issues have impacted my community for generations and continue to inform the artist I am today. In the lack of women’s voices like mine, I am inspired to represent these marginalized American stories and to use the stage to universalize our personal experiences in the larger global context.

One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican “American” Border began as an idea, a seed planted in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, nourished in the Bay Area, California and harvested in New York City. After ten years of digging for my history through insightful family and community interviews, I was determined to transform the richness of their stories into a dramatic interpretation that became this one-woman show.

One Journey had its world premiere in 2010 with an independently produced collaborative project entitled Emerging Identities: Bodies on the Line. Since then I have had the privilege of perform One Journey in different theaters, community centers and universities throughout the United States to raise awareness of the socio-political realities of border life. My vision is to reach international audiences, promote women’s stories and question the meaning of borders in today’s world through the lens of theater.

For more information on Yadira go to: www.yadiradelariva.com and www.onejourneychronicles.com and buy your tickets to One Journey Here!

ALNPF 2013 Spotlight: Q&A with Rupert Reyes

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, another Petra play! This Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m. at The Long Center Rollins Theatre, you can see the fourth Petra Play, “Petra’s Pastorela,” written by Teatro Vivo’s own Rupert Reyes. To welcome Petra’s return, here’s a Q&A with Reyes about the highly anticipated new Petra play!

What is a Pastorela in your own words and why is it so important in the Latino community?

“The Pastorela has a long history in the Latino community. Brought here by the Spanish priest, it is a Christmas tale of the shepherds journey to visit the newborn Christ.  It is a play that though it has the story of Jesus, can be a secular morality story for all audiences. It take the shepherds (who really represent “us”) through the struggles of the Seven Deadly Sins, which seems to be more and more relevant these days. The beauty of the play is that it can be produced with lots of entertainment and comedy values.”

How has Petra’s character evolved over the years?

“Petra was borrowed from my friend Rodrigo Duarte Clark’s “Brujerias,” a short play about a bumbling older couple. I liked the relationship and the character of Petra in that story, but I didn’t want her to be a fool or a farcical character; I wanted her to be smart, compassionate and someone who would fight for what is right. My first version had her speaking like someone with little education, little knowledge of English. She was very simple and this almost made her “simple minded,” something I wanted to avoid. I wanted everyone to see their mom, their favorite tía, or grandmother. We all hold these people pretty high up in our eyes, so Petra moved in that direction. She is now smart, speaks good English and Spanish, worldly in that she knows a lot of what is happening but she stay grounded. She is unconditional love incarnate.”

In your eyes, who is Petra’s character?

“My father, who fell from a ladder when he was in his 70s and made me look closer not only at how I had taken him for granted, but how the culture is moving away from respecting our elders. I guess this is what Americans do, but Latinos never would put abuela or mom in a home.”

What makes Petra’s Pastorela appealing to audiences?

“The Petra series is appealing  because audiences see their family on stage. Some of the same conflicts in the plays are happening in their own lives. They get to laugh and maybe see the seeds of a solution. Non-Latino audiences gain insight into the culture but also see that we are not different. We are all human beings in the same boat, rowing against the same currents.”

What is your favorite characteristic about Petra?

“Her unconditional love.”

What do you hope to show audiences with this play?

“That faith is powerful. Petra never gives up hope that Rafael will come out of his coma, but she does let doubt creep into her life in any amount.  Doubt is the poison that kills faith.”

What do you love about Teatro Vivo?

“That we have been able to reach some many different audiences in Austin; that we are respected as a theater company and theater artists. We do good theater; we want Latino audiences to be proud of our work and we want to make the community proud of us as well.  I always say that our biggest competitor is ourselves and we are only as good as our last show. And one of the most important loves is that I get to share the work and devotion with my lovely wife JoAnn.”

Any advice to future playwrights?

“Advice to Latino playwrights: write our stories. You don’t have to only write Latino tales, but take the time to add one more to the very short list of good Latino plays. Plays can be the source for film as well, think “Real Women have Curves,” and “Zoot Suit.” What have you seen on screen lately? We do have emerging Latino actors and actresses, but we need the writers. And who is telling our stories? Most of the time it is not a Latino, think “Quinceañera.” There is a gold mine out there folks. Get your pen and get to it.”

“Petra’s Pastorela” is on sale now!

Buy your tickets here!

ALNPF 2013 Spotlight: Caroline Dobson Chavez

By: Monica Rodriguez

Our next spotlight for this year’s Austin Latino New Play Festival (ALNPF) is Caroline Dobson Chavez. She is the playwright for “Quincea-What?,” playing Friday, May 17, at 8 p.m. at The Long Center Rollins Theatre.

Inspired by a dream, Chavez wrote “Quincea-What?!” to inspire culture connections.

“The title,”Quincea-What?”, is presented in the form of a question, because I am hoping this play causes the audience to question their own viewpoints about various topics discussed throughout the play,” said Chavez. “I hope this play starts a conversation about real communication across cultures.”

Throughout “Quincea-What?,” audiences will be introduced to relatable Hispanic characters.

“My favorite character is Aunt Lupe,” said Chavez. “She represents the Hispanic female elder of the household and is emotionally expressive.  I would love to have an Aunt Lupe figure in my life, because I know she would give me good solid advice based on a lifetime’s experience.”

Chavez studied Spanish at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in San Antonio, where she learned about the Quinceañera experience.

“I actually have never been to a Quinceañera, but I would love to be invited some time,” said Chavez. “I think celebrating the transition from being a girl to being a young woman is significant across cultures, and I believe in celebrating women of all ages.”

During her writing process, Chavez learned three things as a playwright.

“I learned from this experience that play writing is not easy, writing a play is very different from writing a book, and the valuable roles of director and dramaturg versus playwright,” said Chavez.”I loved this entire experience!”

Loving her playwriting experience, Chavez believes future playwrights should pursue life’s opportunities.

“Follow your dreams because they can, in fact, turn into reality,” said Chavez.

“Quincea-What?” is on sale now!

Buy your tickets here!

ALNPF 2013 Spotlight: Ariana Mendez

ALNPF 2013 Spotlight Feature: Ariana Mendez

By: Monica Rodriguez

If you haven’t heard las noticias, Teatro Vivo is proud to present this year’s Austin Latino New Play Festival (ALNPF) in collaboration with The Long Center for the Performing Arts and ScriptWorks. The festival features three playwrights and will be showcased at the Long Center Rollins Theatre May 16 – May 18 this coming week.

Today, we will be featuring Ariana Mendez, a recent grad from The University of Texas at Austin and a playwright for ALNPF 2013. Mendez’s play El Jardín Viviente, The Living Garden, is about Susana, a woman in her mid-thirties who is suffering from cancer and has accepted her fate despite her family’s attempts to keep her alive. Mendez’s inspiration for this emotional, heart-warming story about faith gives audiences a dose of Teatro Vivo’s corazón y alma.

“My aunt died of breast cancer last summer. At the time I didn’t know she was that sick so it caught me off guard,” said Mendez. “I didn’t get to see her before she passed away so I wanted to write something that will help me remember her. Susana’s death is how I would have wanted my aunt’s to be.”

Just like Teatro Vivo, Mendez believes that la familia is everything. She hopes that audiences take away the importance of family in El Jardín Viviente.

“Family is important and those relationships are gold, they need to be cherished. A family fights and argues, but when a family member is in need those differences are put aside,” said Mendez. “I hope [El Jardín Viviente] will bring [audiences] together. I think it’s a universal story about family and in my opinion the Latino community is a family.”

Mendez also hopes to touch audiences with her character’s struggles and realizations throughout the play.

“I think the biggest struggle [the characters] face is keeping faith and having something to believe in at a moment of crisis. They all want their sister Susana to live, but have to come to the realization that it’s something they have no control over,” said Mendez. “I think [the play’s purpose is] to show that life is sacred, and that it should not be wasted on arguments or fights, especially amongst family members.”

As a word of advice to future playwrights, Mendez says to dig deep.

“Have fun and write; write every day. Don’t be afraid to write about things that scare you or are unsure about. Explore those feelings, challenge yourself,” said Mendez.

El Jardín Viviente will play next Thursday, May 16 at the Long Center Rollins Theatre. Join us next Thursday to witness Mendez’s story come to life. Buy your tickets here!

Pulga Snapshots

Didn’t get to go to the pulga? ¡No se pongan tristes! Look through these ‘Pulga Pics’ and relive the chisme, the food and the amazing thing one only finds at this signature Latino place.

Read More

Teatro Vivo Auditions: Join Our Family!

Teatro Vivo is looking for talented members of the community to bring to life the works and characters being featured in the Austin Latino New Play Festival, May 16-18, 2013.

The exciting audition process kicks off with roles available for men and women ages 18-80+. Knowledge of Spanish for some roles is a plus but not required.

Actors should prepare a comedic and/or dramatic monologue for the audition. Each monologue should be no more than 1- 2 minutes in length. Bring a headshot or photo. Resumes are welcome, but not required.

Auditions are by appointment. For more information and to schedule an audition, email JoAnn Reyes at joannreyes@yahoo.com


Austin Latino New Play Festival Auditions

Tuesday, April 2 – Wednesday, April 3

6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

University of Texas at Austin Community Engagement Center

1009 E. 11th Austin 78702

Why should I go see Pulga Nation?


By: Monica Rodriguez

There are three reasons you should come see Pulga Nation:

  1. This sketch comedy will make you laugh.
  2. The characters will remind you of someone and make you laugh more.
  3. Teatro Vivo will make you feel part of a community.

Omar Gallaga, a writer of Pulga Nation,  shares these same reasons with us today. In Pulga Nation, Teatro Vivo is all about the new, live and unexpected.

“Sketch comedy is new for Teatro Vivo and it’s very different from seeing a play,” said Gallaga. “Even though there may be running storylines through a show and recurring characters, it’s meant to be faster paced and to have a lot more wacky characters and absurd situations. We’re hoping audiences get a lot of laughs out of the show and that they see themselves or people they know in some of the characters.”

Inspiration for Pulga Nation came from connecting issues of the Latino community with the cultural icon of a pulga.

“We were looking for a something to tie a lot of different comedic ideas together, and the Pulga seemed like a great backdrop to talk about a lot of Latino issues and put them in a familiar setting,” said Gallaga. “We also thought it would really lend itself to spotlighting memorable characters and introducing funny situations.”

There is a relatable character for every generation in this sketch comedy, young and old from the Instagram hipsters to the techie gurus.

“I really like the scenes with the “Wicked” characters, hipsters who treat everything at the Pulga like it’s a cultural artifact,” said Gallaga. “[I also] really like the Adapter Man character and his extreme personality.”

Regardless of whom your favorite character will turn out to be, Pulga Nation has something for everyone to relate to.

“We [all] know people who are a little too intense and who make us uncomfortable, but for whatever reason we can’t really avoid them in our lives,” said Gallaga. “I’m looking forward to seeing [their] scenes performed on stage.”

Teatro Vivo is excited to add sketch comedy to the mix, and Gallaga couldn’t feel more welcomed.

“Teatro [Vivo]  really does an amazing job bringing together really talented performers who care not only about putting on good shows, but about impacting the community and creating a warm space for artists to practice their craft,” said Gallaga. “It has always felt like a family that continues to grow and evolve.  I’m thrilled that Vivo is introducing sketch comedy to the mix, because it’s allowed me to join in and contribute.”

Photo provided by: Statesman.com, Graphic by: Monica Rodriguez

A Sin Vergüenza Moment: The Top 5 Things You Will Find at La Pulga

*Reader discretion is advised, this post contains profanity and is therefore rated PG-13, as in Padre Guidance recommended, pero not enforced.* 

Also, be ready to laugh your calcetines off.

The following blog post features Teatro Vivo actress Patricia Arredondo, who plays “La Puta” in Pulga Nation. Arredondo was an original and founding member of The The Latino Comedy Project and acted with them for about 10 years. She has been in a number of Teatro Vivo projects such as, “Fantasmaville.” She loves acting for the immediate reaction one gets from a live audience. So, without further adieu, here are the top five things “La Puta” would find at a pulga:

Photos by: Deanna Deolloz

La Puta’s List of “Top 5 Things You Will Find at La Pulga”

By: Patricia Arredondo

P– Papi Chulos are everywhere! La Pulga is full of papitos single y
bien ready to mingle! Dress up in tu Sunday pulga best porque you will
have plenty of competition!! *Note* If you are a single mama y tu
vecina can’t watch tus babies, dress them up too y bring them! What
says “I’m ready to settle down” to an eligible papasote better than
your morritos.

U– Universal Remotes are always getting lost. My pinche kids are
ALWAYS losing my TV remote! They try and blame their cousins pero I
know it’s my own mocosos loosing that shit…look for the Adapter Man,
tell him I sent you.

L– I was gonna say “Legs de Turkey” pero everybody and their perro
knows you can get turkey legs at the pulga so imma go with “Loose
Lenguas.” The pulga is full of chisme, nothing stays a secret here.
How do you think i found out that Santos Guerra moved to Frier? Shit.
Don’t even get me started on why that cabron left.

G– Ganas! There is nothing like the pulga to get you motivated to do
algo! Familia bored of the same ol’ cena? Visit the produce stand.
(they gots secret, bien fancy, gourmet stuff under the counter. You
just gotta know to ask for it.) Planning a wedding pero this is your
Tia’s 3rd special day so you guys ain’t got a lot of lana? The pulga
te da las ganas y inspiration to keep that shit under budget.

A– Acid Washed Anything!! La pulga has always been on the forefront of
fashion and nothing says relaxed class before anyone else than algo
acid washed. Mira, my sister bought a pair of purple acid washed
leather heels there in January and she’s already had 5 boyfriends and
a promotion at the raspa stand. La vieja at stall 107 is gonna let me
put on lay-a-way an acid washed, tiger print, fur blanket! I’m making
over El Love Den 😉

If you laughed, you should go ahead and buy your tickets now.

Click Here!