La Teatrista

guerillera de la cultura

Monday, January 30, 2006


My partner in crime from the Rose calls me for a drink. A quiet night at the wreck might be a nice end to a solid weekend of box office managing madness and reverie.

To my surprise there was a kickin reggae-latin-ska band Liquid Cheese . A savvy group from my home town of El Paso. Man these guys are a good party. There were maybe thirty people at the Wreck, but you know a good band when numbers don't matter them. Showmanship and class with grooves that reminded me of where I came from.

Another surprise that wasn't as nice this weekend...

Late, drizzly Fri night I come home and before I reached my stairs that are tucked into an alley, the homeless couple, that I had previously mentioned, stops me again with the same story: need gas money or help. Now they know where I live. Now I really wonder what there story is. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep. Should I feel that paranoid?

By the way, Teatro de la Rosa's CASA RIO runs for one more weekend at the old Rose Marine Theater. Local playwright, great fun.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

latest and greatest

I wasn't able to make it to last weekend's Teatro Dallas International Fesival. I missed the show I was really looking forward to. The tight cash flow broke my heart.
Teatro de la Rosa's Casa Rio had a good opening. Two more weekends to go at the old Rose Marine Theater. Check it is quite hilarious!

I attended the latest FWAC meeting Monday and met with Lori Thompson from Firehouse Gallery. She mentioned something very, very interesting. She has a collection of old 40's artwork that served as posters for local Mexican bands that played in the Northside area. She wants to do a five year long project to commemorate the musicians and find them or their relatives by displaying them all over town etc. Well when she tried to find old Spanish Newspapers or was it she spoke to our Exective Director who researched the Rose Marine (I swear this wet brain is gonna get worse, its a wonder how I memorize lines). The important detail is that the city never archived these Spanish newspapers. Apparently that part of history didn't deserve to be archived. So Lori wants to force the city to place this story in Fort Worth's history. Those girls at Firehouse are the coolest.

This sorta ties in to my play which is a Tribute to this Golden Age of Mexico which found its height right after WW2. Mexico was doing very well and everyone was celebrating the modern, progressive glamour of the times. Like our 1920's. Mambo took over about the late forties right at the climax of Mexico's American inspired cinema that garnered international acclaim. Yes, anybody who lived then was very proud and regard the time with a strong reverance, a golden splendor. It was all downhill from there. There is no tellin why...

What is amazing is that the Rose Marine has pictures of some of the icons of this time. Cantinflas, known for his brilliant banter, the heroic everyman. There is a photo of Resortes, the great Mambo King of Mexico, among other famous Epoca actors. It all happened here. There used to be this old white man, a former box office attendant, who'd visit from time time last year and would show me his little pictures. One is of his daughter with Resortes. "I knew them all" -he'd say. There might have been such a goldmine of history in these local papers, but not considered worthy enough for the City to handle. It's all memory now, making its way to myth. Three years ago this play found its home in my mind, before the Rose became mine. Now, stronger than ever I feel fate knows more than me. I am happy to follow those stars. The Latino image and historical presence in Fort Worth is undergoing some serious tranformation, thanks to an army of guerilleros culturales.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In the Harmony

Things can happen so fast. Then there is a glimpse of magic,
something so tangible you can taste it....

It was a frantic start to a week. Eye twitches and a pounding heart throb about reminding me to breathe. Visions and to do lists swirl in my head so fast that I can't seem to catch up. Distractions grab my attention so easily. Something tells me to get those things out of the way for a clear mind on the days to come. Cara Mia's David said, "work hard, be humble -just don't forget to breathe". I love that boy - what a comrade.

Scrambling for teachers for our afterschool programs, then they appear
Biting nails over an incomplete cast...then its there
A beautiful afternoon teaching along side a beloved mentor
Seeing young minds find a way to their voices.
A rehearsal that flowed into whispers from a muse.
The dozen of deja vus since Sat, the roadsigns I am happy to see
The fears just seem to just wash away.
Doubt is more trouble than apathy.

Maybe I chose to hold on to fear thinking its humility
Maybe humility simply comes from true gratitude.

Then one last fear I charged through: I got to sing with the Wreck Room jamsters. Not in my shower, not in my car, not spoken word but on a stage carrying tune with the badd asses of FW. I am not a singer. It was the running joke in college. These guys just let me jam with them. I would come home always kicking myself for not having the guts to just get up there. The song is of my most treasured tunes: Portishead's Glory Box.

I was shaking like the first time I read one of my poems for an audience. Blast your own Breath, ran by Tammy Gomez five years ago. My hand couldn't keep my sheet of notebook paper steady the whole two minutes. That poem became a play that made it to a College Theater Festival and due to an emergency I had to replace an actor with an hour's notice...that was even scarier.

I know I was shaky and lacking the proper notes. It was hard to find the bridge between their sound and mine, but eventually I felt the separation dissipate. From my point of view at least. I worried about what I sounded like, then it just didn't matter anymore. The flow took over and I couldn't really hear my self anyway. The lyrics got jumbled up in my memory but they found their way out and it felt freakin good. I don't know how it went, but I did it. The musicians were kind enough to humor a girl like me.

I teach kids to not be afraid of their voices. The first thing I do is have them say their own name, nice and loud, center stage. It is amazing seeing a youngun battle for that kind of expression of pride. So why the hell should I be afraid? I gotta walk the talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

On intentions

Around September I had finally settled into my new westside space. Two in the morning, coming home from Hip Pocket after an emotional shredder of a show, I was about to turn onto my street from Montgomery and a couple flagged me down desperately. Their smiles appeared honest, so, I stopped. The woman was friendly-faced, Latina, petite, pretty, the stories on her skin seemed to show her true age. She was with a white man, could be 30 -35? Apple pie, descent looking. Their approach seemed simple and familiar, "We are out of gas, could you help?"

They mentioned they left a wedding that was held at the Will Rogers center and needed money for gas or if they could get a lift to Horne St. Alright. Their story made me think for a second, but the nature of the show I was doing at the time had me in an omnipotent hold. I felt confident and really pushed the energy of a good intent against any harm. I accepted the task of taking them to Horne.

They introduced themselves as a married couple. Small talk ensued: they asked me what my name was, what I did for living, where I lived. None of what I told was true. I was polite clearly giving them a ride not building any bond. I started imagining the story of the assault on the news, the bruises and losing my newly, well-earned solitude because my parents lives would be on the line of they couldn't watch over me through trauma therapy. I lit a cigarette, blaming my generosity on the few wines I had, wondering if the essence of my intent was compromised with those ill thoughts.

My lighter flame cued relief and they where excited to know they could smoke along with me. I recalled stories of teams of two that prey on easy targets, me. Imagined her a prostitute and him, her pimp. Maybe they are a real couple into a questionable line of work. I was a alone, hoping I met the right people. It reminded me of the lady that warmly worked her way to my table at the Black Dog, angry at Big Time for disrespecting her and needed ride. Something told me to be diplomatic with my refusal.

The gentleman grew a little uneasy as I grew colder to the small talk. I stepped on the gas a bit to make the car a bit shaky down Camp Bowie's bricks. Maybe if they see that I am a bit unsafe the less likely they would want to mess with me. It was the best idea I could think of. My naive paranoia was not helping the situation...if there was really any situation to help at all. The man's eyes grew harder then he asked to stop in the middle of a residential area down Horne. The woman responded to his decision with a concern and suggested a gas station. He shook his head. "This is fine. Thank you", he said. They got out, I left them. Came home, relieved, but I felt the way it ended was not the ending to my wish. Somewhere it became two and the latter was selfish.

A couple of days later, I picked up the fweekly to see the cover story of Katrina victims in Fort Worth housed across the street. I attempted to blame my schedule for not knowing what was going on. After weeks of some serious disbelief, anger, horror, empathy -I had to turn it off. I had to save something for a play about a sex offender. I remember one afternon seeing a big long line outside the Amon Carter
Jr Hall. Last I had heard, Houston was waiting for them. Oh.

The next week I saw them again. We recgonized each other. His look was hard. A split second of contact as I drove down the same spot I met them. I wondered. I saw them later on the afternoon before the big freeze. She was just wearing a thin green windbreaker jacket with her hands tucked in the sleeves. He was wearing a polo, head down bracing the wind. Then tonight, I saw them. He was carrying something that looked like a bucket and a shirt that reminded me of Sardine's sign.

I only wonder because a couple like that doesn't seem common in westside, or is that me imagining again? My guilt and embarrassment can't seem to be enough for me face them without feeling unbearably vulnerable. I run around hoping my other little intentions can restore a karma I think I made. Hope so or I hope my imagination is responsible.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What a buzz

Here at the Rose fort, much has been transpiring. Art openings, serious organizational stuff to get the gallery running, theater company plans. I have been doing researching, dreaming, breathing, finding the bricks and mortar to build my play. (It's so freakin scary...) We open Casa Rio this week and tech weeks (week before a show opens) can be brutal, but we are steady busy and very positive.
While hanging out with a friend yesterday, I thought of an artist I new in Lubbock that was very, very, I mean, very good. Check it....quite intense, quite prolific:

hehe love this one:

Sunday, January 15, 2006

At least something is being done!

Last night's performance was not what I was hoping to see in an international theater festival. My mixed emotions about the piece still have yet to settle. Let me give you the set up:

Teatro Dallas and some pretty awesome grants (it seems like) has made this festival possible,hosting acts from the U.S. Mexico and Venezuela. I was looking forward to some innovative work to shake down Texas. Cora Cardona, artistic director of Teatro Dallas, is an international artist and just had a theater school named after her in Venezuela. Her partner in crime, Ygor Zamora, a man with outstanding credits, is conducting a physical theater workshop that will culminate in a performance at the end of the festival. Sounds interesting right?

I went with three good friends: Artistic Director of Cara Mia, David Lozano (a brilliant actor and clown), and his tremendously talented Mexican actress and better half, Frida. Also my good friend Darryl,Confustron DJ extrordinaire,was brave enough to accompany me.

Well, the festival opener was overall disappointing, but the attempt and spirit of the piece merited applause. Lilian Tapia, actress(with a very impressive bio), has trained with the "masters" of Mexican theater. The show was a cabaret, opening with a sexy salsa couple moving in ways us normal folk would only find in our own minds while swirling in a drunken rhumba. Beautiful chemistry, clean Then comes Lilian Tapia shaking audience members hands interrupting the dancers to take over the stage. She is a bawdy gal, busty, thick, older, but with a sultry confidence that would make a white man shake and Mexican man hungry. She opens with the rhythms and comic style of raunchy comedy shows seen on Spanish TV. It was refreshing to see a female with a sharp tongue and spirit, a formidable contender in a mostly male dominated Latino comic ring.

Two minutes into her opening, I realized I was going to have to play double time. Darryl needed some assistance which developed into a crick in my neck from whispering English without being annoying. The jokes were very colloquial and were hard to translate sometimes missing my POCHA mind.

"De Amor Y de Mordidas"

Lilian's comedy discussed the battle of the sexes: why men are they way they are and why women do what they do. An exploration of the pain in loves and expectations. Typical, easy I thought- with cheap jabs at the sexes. She took us through realms where she thought the answer might be. She blamed it on God, on science, women themselves, and even the Spanish conquest (an easy segway to a flamenco castanet number that was too long and a little painful to watch). She plowed through with consistent energy and a great voice. I felt encouragement when the dancers where brought on to enhance her philosophy on the difference of eroticism and sex, but it was murdered when she went on to agonize in her final cry to understand the male unresponsiveness to romance in a poem that shredded the show to its lowest Spanish soap form. Then went to the mirror for a "it's me..I need to look inside myself" glory moment.

I will say, the energy did give me a little shiver because of its bravado and courage in her last line, "I have to love myself before I can truly love another" (damn it- it struck a cord). She crawled through the stages of love: the carnal, the superficial, the masochist, the conditional, the manipulative...realizing she really never new true love. That moment was honest.

Later during discussion time..
Frida found the show disappointing. Her logic: This is type of comedy is already saturating TV. For an international theater festival this was not something worthwhile. There is place for blue humor, for her, theater should stay away from what can be too easy. David, enjoyed the spirit and courage of a feisty one-woman show at her age. Darryl, well...didn't get his culture fix. Me- mixed. I wished to see her truly commit to her darker moments so the light would pierce through, Leguizamo style.

I want to support full Spanish presentations, but no warning was given. I felt bad for the some of the patrons who had to walk out. How do you not alienate an audience without compromising some artistic integrity? I like a challenge. As an artist, I tend to want to challenge an audience, but I have seen how self-indulgent that can get. It also made me question how much to trust a laundry list of accomplishments on paper. Proof is in the walk. At least this art has spurred a discussion. We ask questions, we discover more of ourselves with what we find is worth absorbing, and hopefully ask why.

Next week: Mujer on the Border Marta Aura (Frida mentioned she was quite an actress)
A piece on the life of women whose men leave for the states to work in order to support their families. Whole pueblos left to women and how do they cope? That sounds more along my flow.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Checkin the Dallas Scene

I am headed to the Teatro Dallas International Festival.

go to:

(my link thing is giving me issues- once I figure it out...)

There was a workshop I would have loved to take but I am working on my show. Tonight we have "De Amor Y de Mordidas" Of Love and Bites . Hopefully it will be good.

Still learning now to use the puter..

Friday, January 13, 2006

Painful skin to shed

Help. I need a freakin waambulance. I am dancing at my own pity party! I decided I should have one when I realized I grew hard with life. My hopeful outlook was exciting, thrilling, motivating as youth is. When did I get hard? How did that happen? Hard on people, on any weakness, my own ambitions, love. Like if this was the last game of the season, almost cutthroat. Got carried away with the ideal for the rational mind. I kinda miss whoever I was. What is this? I don't feel things with wild wonder, with tenderness, with romance. It grew wreckless after awhile, then I needed a somewhat numb time. Worked, but now I am not quite comfortable in this skin. Geez, "growing pains" how typical. I know I know nothing and that is the bit of innocence I am hanging on to. I'll stop before this gets Plath-ugly.

but seriously folks, late solitary nights can do terrible tricks on a mind
pardon me..all storms pass

Art Openings

Victor Trevino Jr, a local actor and photographer opened his exhibit at the Rose Marine Theater-man what a magical night for him. It was big success. His work is quite exquisite for a budding artist. I spent some time helping him frame and hang. Miss Alyssa Banta, an incredible artist, mentored him through his first show and the result was moving. The collection features experimental pics of the ruins of Chichen Itza. He successfully captured the mystery he set out to immortalize. He is also acting in my children's piece and it is so amazing seeing a talent find their light. Proud of him. I will find his website to post. On the other end of the theater we have a another young artist Breanna Abrahim who found a much more modern view to question. Both worth the time!
check it out: for details on our happennings and directions

I hope Fort Worth will start making art events the thing to do and support without getting that Dallas snobbery. I like to think Fort Worth stays as real as it can, but dreams to be as cultured as possible.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New York

I just recently arrived from a magical trip in New York. My dearest most loved friends all convened in NYC for New Year's. I must admit it was a decadent week, but most enlightening. I got to read some poetry at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the amazing breeding ground for Latino performance artistry and read Para las Muertas de Juarez (For the women of Juarez). I felt it was the most appropriate since it represented the border, the fact that it is still an issue that lost its press.... I got to see some really good poets but thanks to the daubachery that took me hostage, I could only remember one name. I do remember a line from a poet that should have won in my opinion when he was talking about standing up to be a man despite the disentegration of urban families: (a reference to masturbation then) "I am no palm reader but I can see the future in my hands". Another poet's work touched on her experience with AIDS from an abusive father. All of liberal views and the music guy that wrote a DR Pepper jingle that really worked the "I am a white guy but I support" with excellent sensitivity and sincere thought that was very welcome in a mostly afro-latino-muslim audience. All were very supportive and surprisingly unpretenious (which sometimes tends to find it's way here) and I popped my Nuyorican cherry and recieved a sticker for my piece, proof that Fort Worth was represented. l saw a cabaret show at the shwanky, all class -Duvet. It
was visually stunning: singers and dancers, beautiful costumes and very very hot ladies enjoying their sass. After our bottle service arrived, it was on.
The place turned to a sexy gay mecca, our server (friend of my firend) reported John Leguizamo was there. I spent the rest of the night with a roving eye...never saw him, but I was ready.

I rocked in the Eve with an Irish freedom rock band Black 47. All I remember was dancing my butt off with a very beautiful Irishman
and yelling freedom at the end of the night while twirling to a reggae spiced tune. Saw some good 'ol Irish brawls...passed out.

I saw an off Broadway play that was very interesting. "Apparitions" was a collection of ghost stories, some modern some older but it was confusing to understand why we needed to listen to them and who were these people that were telling us their tales. The credits of those involved were impressive but the writing was difficult to follow. I find non-linear plays are the new language thanks to film, but when you add poetry that is hard to hear..well you lose the audience. A couple of the actors were amazing, handling subtleties with grace, transitions with such skill all in very voluminous monologues. Most of the show was in the dark which made it hard to stay awake and the sound was trying to be tantalizing. It left me wanting more. One of the actresses I knew had to be dating the director, there was no way. All in all once again, I was encouraged with our work here in Fort Worth.

The Thai food, the pizza, the drizzle and music. The hard straight forward attitudes that softens more often than expected...
I love it. Here is my ode:

City of promise, of people,
of puddles and teaming lights,
of cold January winds
like simple arrows aimed to find warmth.
Inside worlds tucked into streets
like Christmas stockings,
surprises are wrapped in lands as quilts,
sewn together with threads of common dreams.
Here the pulse throbs around you
breathing through the rhythms of pavement, heartbeats and steel.