November 21, 2013

  • Oh Where, Oh Where Have I Been

    beleaguered
    I usually don’t go dark on the blog unless I’m traveling or visiting family. No such luck. I’ve been here in SF toiling away and completely beleaguered. I think it’s official: too many irons in the fire.

    But I need to make the effort. So here I am. Effort-ing.

    Though, if I’m honest with myself, ever since Xanga switched to this new look/platform my blogging has slacked. I think it’s the blog’s look and feel. All this reminds me that I need to get going on a new website and transfer this blog and its archives over.

    So what’s going on?

    Well, the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network (BALTAN) has set the date for its second potluck gathering. I unfortunately won’t be able to make it as rehearsals for The River Bride begin early December. So it’s starting. My first local show is about to begin rehearsals. In fact, this weekend I head up to San Rafael to meet with my directors (I have two) so we can go over the entire script.

    In the meantime, I need to do edits on both The River Bride and Wolf at the Door.

    And there’s also the gender parity portal (formerly the toolkit). Director Christine Young and I met earlier this month to finally touch base on the project. So far we’ve figured out that the project should roll out in stages. As for the development of the resources, we may need to gather a national committee to help develop it. Yikes. Big project. But well worth it.

    And I never finished the Storify I was working on to document my Latino Theatre Commons experience. I’ll attempt to finish it on Sunday perhaps.

    Now that I think about it a lot has happened since I last blogged. And a lot of it contributed to the fact that I wasn’t able to blog.

    Here’s what happened:

    • I went to Boston for four days to attend the Latino Theatre Commons. And it was awesome!
    • I met with Christine Young to discuss the gender parity portal–a resource for theatre artists
    • I saw Solitude by Evelina Fernandez. The Latino Theatre Company performed at Brava. I am so happy I saw this performance. It was a wonderful evening of theatre and so amazing to see Brava filled.
    • Participated in a grantwriting workshop for artists. Two weekend workshops and lots of free time went to working on my grant proposal. Cross those fingers.
    • Rehearsal for the One Minute Play Festival. I have two plays in the festival. My friend Hugo is directing one of the pieces and I attended the initial rehearsal–which was great.
    • Phone call with my directors prepping for an in-person meeting to go over the script (The River Bride)
    • Received an invitation to submit to an invitation-only developmental conference. Cross those fingers.
    • Attended week-long mega conference (SalesForce) while still trying to do regular day-job duties.
    • In between all this running around I would occasionally collapse on my futon and fall asleep watching a movie.

    Which brings us to today.

    -M

October 29, 2013

  • Here We Go

    Apologies for the radio silence, but I’ve been working on a grant as part of a grantwriting workshop for artists. It’s a really great opportunity to learn about grantwriting and I’m definitely getting a lot out of it (so thank you, Galería de la Raza for doing the workshop). But let me just say: it’s not easy.

    Oh, and I have to submit the first draft tonight via an online form. And I have to do that while cleaning and packing because I’m headed to the Latino Theatre Commons conference in Boston which starts on Thursday.

    LTC Final Program_Page_01

    I’ve barely had a chance to get mentally prepared for this event. So I gotta shift gears quick and be ready to engage, participate and contribute. And, if you’re so inclined you can follow the conference online via HowlRound TV or on Twitter (follow the #cafeonda hashtag).

    Oh, and have I mentioned that we’re a month out from starting rehearsals for The River Bride? Well we are.

    Busy, busy, busy.

    -M

October 22, 2013

  • Too Many Irons in the Fire or How I Learn To Stop Worrying And Love Deadlines

    How did this happen? How is it the end of October with my birthday right around the corner and I am not ready. I do not have the time to organize even a small gathering of my friends. I am trying to, but I don’t think it’s realistically possible given all that I have going on at the moment, which includes:

    • Finishing my One Minute Play Festival submission for the SF OMPF
    • Working on a grant proposal and finishing a first draft before Friday because…
    • Friday going to a coaching session for my grant writing workshop so that I can then…
    • Finalize my first draft of my grant proposal and submit it by Oct. 29 because…
    • October 30 I head to the National Latino Theatre Commons conference in Boston
    • And I need to go to Chinatown sometime soon or my sobrinos will never forgive me if I don’t come home with parasols for Christmas
    • Plus there’s the NALAC grant application I need to start
    • And other applications
    • And organizing the next Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network potluck which we think now will happen in early December
    • Plus, I’m finally going to start working on that gender parity toolkit in December, or at least start plotting its process for development
    • Which reminds me, this Sunday there’s a feminist theatre salon to go to
    • So I have no idea when I’m going to clean my house which has languished under a thin layer of mess ever since my back started bothering me.
    • Oh, and then I’ve been invited to participate on a committee
    • Which reminds me, I need to check in with my Alma mater about the symposium I’m going to develop with them…

    See what I mean about too many irons.

October 21, 2013

  • Auditions for The River Bride

    Saturday it was foggy. Über foggy. So foggy I couldn’t see the Golden Gate Bridge when I was standing less than 100 feet away from it. Actually, I don’t know how many feet I was away, but I can usually see the bridge from the Golden Gate Transit stop that’s right before you cross the bridge.

    Why was I catching a bus? Well, I was on my way to San Rafael for The River Bride auditions. I headed out early before morning fog got a chance to burn off so I could arrive early and collect my thoughts. Over coffee and an enormous muffin I made a few notes about characters, for qualities I was hoping to find in performance.

    Then I walked to the auditions location where my co-directors Ann Brebner and Jeanette Harrison were setting up. We had 5 hours in the space and an almost no breaks to see the actors that had been invited to audition. Sidenote: if you’re wondering about the auditions, AlterTheater held general auditions about a month or two ago. The group we saw on Saturday was a mix of people who went to generals, people who’ve worked at AlterTheater before, people whose work my co-directors were familiar with, actors I was interested in seeing and AlterTheater ensemble members.

    It was about an hour into auditions that I thought, “Wow, this is going to be hard.” I mean, we’d see someone and say, “That was great! We like them.” Then another person reading for the same part would come in and we’d look at one another and say, “Wow! That was great, too.”

    And not only did we see actors on their own, we saw them paired up with other actors to watch them play off of one another, to see what chemistry they might have (there are three couples in the play).

    Before we knew it, the afternoon had flown by and auditions were concluded. My co-directors and I retired to Ann’s home for tea and conversation where we talked about the performances we had seen. Most of our casting decisions were tough ones. That’s what you get when everyone you see gives you a compelling audition. Though it made our decision process difficult, it was very gratifying to know how much energy the actors we saw on Saturday put into their auditions. And while I thanked each one individually, let me just say here: Thank you. Thank you for bringing the characters to life. For making this process feel suddenly very real and exciting.

    After about an hour we came to a consensus. I can’t tell you more than that because offers have to made and accepted before I can gush over the cast. And I think there will most definitely be gushing.

October 16, 2013

  • The River Bride: Submitting Every Day…Or At Least Trying To

    ladyinthewater

    Taking a cue from playwright Brian Doyle who submitted work every day for an entire year, I’ve decided to do my own version where I send The River Bride to at least one theatre a day.

    I won’t do this for a year, because of course I need to find theatres that are a good fit for the play. But so far I’ve sent the play to three different theatres and I need to do a bit more research to figure out where else to send the play. And to be honest, because my list is so short I don’t know how long my submit a day stretch will last.

    Okay, this means also identifying one theatre a day to send the work to. Fine. I can work to do that. It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary. I mean, how else am I going to get my play out there?

    -M

October 14, 2013

  • My Macario Adventure

    macario_calavera

    Yesterday I went to San Jose to see Macario at Teatro Vision. Now originally I had planned to get a ride down there with my friend Hugo who has the lead in the show. However, due to the opening night gala festivities the night previous I got a call from Hugo in the morning explaining he was still in San Jose.

    So I got myself down to the Caltrain station as quickly as possible to catch the last possible train I could take in order to get to San Jose in time for the matinee performance.

    It all worked out and I got to the theatre with ample time.

    Before the show I got to chat with the woman sitting next to me who used to perform with El Teatro Campesino. I think she’s the one who mentioned that Teatro Vision is hoping to do Macario every year for Dia de los Muertos, the way other theatres do A Christmas Carol once a year.

    Now, looking through the program at the list of characters I assumed there were may 8 actors in the play. So I was delighted when the opening began and there were about 20 or more people on stage including dancers, children and actors. And that doesn’t include the musicians just left of the stage who were performing and accompanying the performers who were singing.

    Macario is a parable about a poor working man in pre-independence Mexico who is visited by three spirits. Like A Christmas Carol, the spirits visit Marcario in order to get him to reflect on his life. After these encounters his life takes on a magical turn as his fortunes then rise and fall.

    My friends Hugo and Karina (who play Macario and Macario’s wife) were really wonderful. And I’m not just saying that because they’re my friends. Hugo is a wonderful dramatic actor who also has an amazing capacity for physical humor and both those talents were on display in this play. Even an improvised moment of trying to prevent a prop from falling over was turned into a laugh. And Karina–I had no idea she could sing.

    Well, don’t take my word for it. There’s only one week left of Macario, so don’t miss it.

    As for me, after dinner with the cast I got a ride back to the city. I’m really glad I made the trek down. And you should, too.

    -M

October 12, 2013

  • Back To The Grind

    Now that I’m in less pain I can actually think about all the upcoming deadlines that are fast approaching. There are many. With that in mind I have two goals for this Saturday:

    1. Finish my Ground Floor application. At least a first draft of it. Review it later in the next week before submitting.
    2. Finish an email to an A.D. who once gave me his card back when I was just beginning as a playwright. Well, now I have two plays to send him.

    That’s pretty much it. For Saturday, anyway. Tomorrow I’m going to go see Macario at Teatro Vision.

    Macario
    That’s Hugo on the left

    I don’t usually get the opportunity to trek down to San Jose–when you don’t have a car this city is like an island. But since my friends Hugo and Karina are both in Macario, I am hitching a ride with the the star of the show himself.

    I’ve promised that in exchange for the ride down I will read Neruda as entertainment and also buy us burritos, possibly for dinner. And, considering that my back is still on the mend, I will have to travel with ice packs. Hear that? It was me groaning and rolling my eyes. I had to reschedule seeing another play earlier this week and cancel a movie date because of my back. But since Macario has a short run, Sunday is really the only day I can go down to see it and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    -M

October 10, 2013

  • The Latino Commons To Meet In Boston And I’m A-Going

    First, apologies for the radio silence. I’ve been laid up for almost a week thanks to my back. Good news is, it’s muscular. Muscular spasms. The bad news is my doctor didn’t give me anything stronger than Motrin to take care of it. Oh well. Time heals all wounds. Hopefully I will be healed up before I fly to Boston at the end of this month (that’s a long time to be sitting on a plane) for the Latino Theatre Commons convening.

    Here’s a bit more from an article on BroadwayWorld.com:

    The Latina/o Theatre Commons, a new national advocacy initiative, will host an historical convening of 75 Latina/o actors, directors, producers, playwrights, designers, and scholars representing all regions of the United States. They will gather to explore the history, current challenges, opportunities, and visions for Latina/o theatre-makers in the 21st century. This National Convening, to be held Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, 2013 at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre in the Emerson / Paramount Center (559 Washington St., Boston, Mass.), will be the first gathering of its kind since 1986. Over the course of the convening, those gathered will seek to advance the state of Latina/o theatre-making through sharing artistic, organizing, and institutional wisdom. Strategies will be identified to seed collaborations and strengthen the burgeoning network of Latina/o theatre artists…

    The convening will bring together veteranos alongside emerging artists, and independent as well as organizationally affiliated practitioners and scholars, representing the diversity of the Latina/o experience from across the country. Participants represent the multifaceted community, tracing their roots to many nations, some Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking, identifying on the queer spectrum, and embracing Native or African heritages as well. They will be champions and advocates for Latina/o work who provide insight, resources, and inspiration to in their respective regions and disciplines.

    I’m really excited to be one of the artists from several artists coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. And super excited to meet artists I’ve known for years but only online. It’s going to be an amazing experience, especially for an artist like myself who is at the beginning of her career.

    See you soon, Boston.

September 26, 2013

  • The River Bride: Time To Send It Out Into The World

    Toni_Frisell_02

    With the press release making the rounds and news of The River Bride being this year’s co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award reaching more than just my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, it is now time for me to send my play out into the world. Time to send it to theatres far and wide.

    I have a list of theatres that I will be contacting to send them my play. A list that I think could be longer. Therefore, I am asking for your help, dear reader. Where should I send my play? And, acknowledging that theatres select plays based on aesthetic and audience (among other factors), here is the synopsis of the play.:

    Three days before a wedding a handsome and mysterious man is fished from the Amazon River. Set once upon a time in a small Brazilian fishing village, The River Bride is a tale of true love, regret and two sisters who struggle to be true to each other and their hearts.

    Also, it should be mentioned that The River Bride is the first in a cycle of three fairy tale plays all inspired by Latino folklore. The other two plays are in the works (Wolf At The Door is at a third draft and Alcira is just beginning to take shape on the page).

    So here’s your chance. Tell me where to send my play. Preferably to theatres with an open submission policy as yours truly does not have representation (read an agent).

    And, thank you.

    -M

September 25, 2013

  • My Official Unofficial Recap: Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists’ Potluck Pachanga

    Why unofficial? Because I think there will be more blog posts to come. I imagine those blog posts will muse critically about the gathering and the future of the community of Bay Area Latino theatre artists. This is just my own personal account of my experience.

    First, a bit of background.

    This is not the first potluck.

    There was a smaller potluck with about 10 people invited, eight attended. Almost all of them were actors I know. We gathered in the living room of the flat Hugo Carbajal and Marilet Martinez share for a potluck dinner. I invited them to gather together because over the course of many months I had heard more than one actor I know/love/want to work with tell me that they were considering quitting the Bay Area. That they were considering moving to a city like Los Angeles or Chicago because getting work here in the Bay Area–getting cast in plays–was something they wanted to do full time, but the reality was they were having a hard time getting work.

    These are talented actors. I know. I’ve worked with them, seen them perform. Yet despite their talent they are often only called in (by some theatres) for Latino roles. Meaning, they are not often considered for roles outside their ethnic identity. And if theatres only do a “Latino play” once every few years then the opportunity for work are scant.

    By the way, I put “Latino play” in quotes because what does that mean, any way? That’s a whole other blog post about categories and their confines and who’s doing the defining.

    Anyway, back to the first potluck. I actually had a bit of an idea I wanted to pitch to the artists. A way of working together. But I quickly scrapped my idea as we went around the room to articulate what it is we want from our theatre community. It became very apparent that the majority wanted most to know who was in their community.

    So we ended that first potluck with action item: start a Facebook group. Invite all the Latino theatre artists in the Bay Area we know and tell them to do the same.

    So we did.

    We created the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Facebook group. It’s a group specifically for Latino theatre artists who live in the Bay Area. That’s it. To join there’s really only three criteria: 1) You identify as Latino, 2) you are a theatre artist and 3) you live in the Bay Area.

    As the group began to grow, then came our second action item: throw another potluck–a gathering for the entire group and repeat that conversation: what do people want and need.

    So we did.

    Monday I left work with a huge bag full of plates, cups and dinnerware. I didn’t prepare any food for the potluck (sorry, but the back was acting up–you’d be amazed how it affects your life when bending over is accompanied by pain). I figured I’d bring supplies so we wouldn’t have to use anything at the SF Mime Troupe’s space–they were good enough to host, but I wanted to keep their expense at a minimum. P.S. A big thank you to Lisa Hori-Garcia, Mime Troupe collective member, who gave us the space to meet.

    I took the BART and walked down 22nd street looking for a small market I had spotted via Google Map (insert your conflicted feelings about privacy here) so I could pick up something to drink. I made it the front door of the Mime Troupe’s space just as Marilet was arriving.

    Marilet, Lisa and I had discussed earlier how to try and moderate/facilitate the conversation, so we were there early to prep the space. Side note: Both Marilet and I participate in the Yeah, I Said Feminist Theatre Salon that has just celebrated its first year in the Bay Area. We decided to borrow some of their best practices for conversation. In fact, we intend to borrow all the awesome ideas that come out of that group.

    Potluck attendees trickled in a bit at first, but by the time the conversation started going there were 20 plus people in the room–not too shabby for a first-time gathering. There were actors, directors, designers, producers, educators, writers, playwrights and poets. I knew about a third of the people in the room, everyone else was a new connection.

    We went around the room introducing ourselves. Using the same prompt, discussed what we’d like to get out of our theatre community that we aren’t currently getting.

    I took notes. Oh did I take notes. I wanted to document all the aspirations so that we could identify the most common ones so that we can then do something about those needs.

    And I listened.

    I listened as people shared that they didn’t know where they fit in. That they had been told they weren’t “Latino enough” or didn’t feel they could call themselves Latino or couldn’t get cast as a Latino because they were told they didn’t look Latino.

    I heard people wanting to work, but struggling against categories that others were imposing on them. I heard people remembering that 20 plus years ago Latino theatre artists were gathering like this to address issues like the same ones we’re facing…that nothing had changed, but that tonight’s meeting had a different energy–it was fun, charged.

    I learned that there is a lot our past can teach us. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can take the best ideas from our past, from our peers and identify how to achieve a sustainable longevity that keeps Latino theatre artists in community moving forward.

    The last twenty minutes was a sort of free for all. Eating, laughing, talking one-on-one. It was exciting. Loud. And everyone I spoke with told me more with their eyes than anything else. I saw the enthusiasm. I saw the wheels in their minds turning. Turning at the possibility, the endless possibility of what a group of dedicated individuals can achieve.

    We’re doing this again.

    Absolutely.

    Most likely the format will be more focused so that our next potluck is about talking, but also about doing.

    More soon,
    M