• 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.


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


    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?


  • My Macario Adventure


    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.


  • 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.

    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.


  • 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.

  • 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.


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

    More soon,

  • The Press Release Has Been…Released

    While Arizona Theatre Company gave the okay a while back for me to share the news, it now feels more official with a press release.

    Marisela Treviño Orta’s The River Bride and Caridad Svich’s Spark as co-winners of the 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award. This is the first time Arizona Theatre Company has acknowledged two winners. Both playwrights will receive a $1000 award in recognition for their work.

    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, Orta’s The River Bride is a tale of true love, regret and two sisters who struggle to be true to each other and their hearts. Orta wrote The River Bride as an installment of a Grimm fairytale-like series she is writing for the stage. She wrote and developed the play while participating in AlterLab. AlterTheater will premiere The River Bride in the fall of 2013.

    The River Bride is a visually striking fairytale infused with lyrical language and steeped in the folklore of the Amazon,” said ATC Playwright-in-Residence Elaine Romero.

    Now I feel able to send The River Bride out to theatres.

    I have a list.

    If you want to be on that list, contact me.


  • Just Saw What Every Girl Should Know


    Last night I joined the Works By Women San Francisco group to go see What Every Girl Should Know by Monica Byrne which is currently up at Impact Theatre in Berkeley.

    Side note: The Works By Women San Francisco is the local chapter of the New York based Works By Women group. The SF chapter organizes a monthly theatre outing to go see work by women playwrights.

    We met for a pre-show dinner in the courtyard outside La Val’s pizza. For the uninitiated, Impact Theatre is located beneath La Val’s and one of the added perks is being able to bring in pizza and beer to a show. So naturally I had myself a couple of slices of pizza.

    The real treat of the evening, aside from the play, was the fact that the playwright Monica Byrne is in town for a few of the shows this week. So after the play we all headed over to Jupiter (the bar, not the planet) for a post-show hangout. This was especially nice for me since I’ve “known” Monica via Twitter for some time now. So getting to meet in the flesh and chat a bit was very nice indeed.

    But back to the play. What’s it about? Well, here’s the synopsis:

    In 1914, four teen girls are thrown together in a New York reformatory. Within the walls of their small room, together they discover their sexuality and personal power as they reveal the horrifying events that led each to that dormitory room. Developing rituals to connect with an unorthodox patron saint, Anne, Joan, Theresa, and Lucy open up an exciting and dangerous realm in which they take on new identities and exact revenge fantasies—while back in their room, a revelation pushes them toward real-life rebellion.

    Abigail Edber, Arisa Bega, and Carlye Pollack

    Bravo to the cast, to director Tracy Ward and to the playwright! And an extra bravo to Impact for producing this play and a great evening of theatre.

    So don’t miss out on this play. It’s getting rave reviews for a reason.

    Get thee to the theatre!

  • Back or Same As It Ever Was

    You perhaps have noticed that the blog looks quite different.

    At the beginning of the month I was in a bit of a panic when Xanga went offline to switch servers. I apparently did not get the memo. So they switched servers and now the backend is basically WordPress.


    Time to move the blog.

    It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and now I am in talks to get an actual proper website up and running. My hope it to transfer the blog over.

    In the meantime, I’m still here.

    But it’s been a good while since I’ve blogged. There’s a lot to catch up on. Here are the highlights.

    I went to Chicago for the opening of the Alcyone Festival at Halcyon Theatre. I got to see the opening performance of my play Heart Shaped Nebula which is in the festival.

    My trip to Chicago was quick. Real quick. I arrived. The next day I got a bit of writing in and then saw my play. Which was good. So good to see after so much time away from it. To see actors on stage, watch the play come to life in their bodies, in the magical space of the stage, the projections, the set, the lights–everything. It was just what this playwright needed.

    The following day I was at the festival again to see four more plays. Yes, four. By the end of the evening my back was a little tired, but I’m glad I saw everything. The festival has a great range or work and style. And kudos to Halcyon for producing another great festival featuring women playwrights. Thank. You.

    While in Chicago I finished (I think) the third draft of Wolf at the Door. Which means I may have time to work on Alcira before the next AlterLab retreat.

    Yeah, I Said Feminist
    The Yeah, I Said Feminist Theatre Salon turned one. I went to the saloniversary this past Sunday, even got up early and made homemade scones. It was so nice to take a moment to reflect on all the good that’s come out of the salon in the past year–the new relationships, collaborations, resources, advocacy and personal change. I am so looking forward to seeing what we accomplish in this next year.

    Submissions Away!
    I’ve gotten quite a few submissions out the door in the past week or so. And there are many more deadlines fast approaching. But thankfully, the workplan is keeping me on track and as soon as a certain announcement becomes more public, I’ll be emailing The River Bride to scores of theatres.

    That’s All Folks…For Now
    Well, that’s kind of what I’ve been up to since the beginning of the month. Oh, did I mention I think there’s a mouse in my house. Yeah, I’m trying to deal with the removal in a humane and non-traumatic (for both me and the mouse) manner. We’ll see how that goes. So far he’s not going for the bait.

    And I’ve been busy this week. But that’ll will have to wait until another post.

    More soon,

    p.s. And now, just because

  • The River Bride is Co-Winner of the 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award

    I’ve been keeping this news under my hat for a while now, but now it’s official. Arizona Theatre Company has announced that my play The River Bride is Co-Winner of the 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award, an honor I share with playwright Caridad Svich whose play Spark is the other Co-Winner. It’s the first time in the history of the award that two playwrights are sharing the award like this. It is an honor to be recognized with Caridad.

    The River Brideis the first in my cycle of fairy tale plays inspired by Latino folklore and it goes up in AlterTheater‘s upcoming 2013/2014 season. Here’s the synopsis for 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.