Hello Gentle Reader!
This a post that isn’t as fully formed as I was hoping as I rushed to get my thoughts in place. The post that was supposed to be uploaded had references to the Golden Globes and with the passing of Lisa Marie Presley, I felt like it wasn’t the right time to post it.💔
I am currently in rehearsal for a staged reading of a new play called La Lechuza or The Owl Witch. It is a really neat opportunity to see a play evolve and morph into a more matured version of itself. I am loving the conversation we are having during our time together.
In a previous post, I had expressed a want to figure out myself to try and find that elusive self love that we are always hearing about. One of the biggest blank spaces I have in regards to my sense of self is culture 🇲🇽 and what it means for me and how I can embrace it and be more comfortable in my milk chocolatey colored outer candy shell.
Last spring/summer, while I was involved with The Pear Theatre’s Pear Slices performances, I had a back and forth email conversation with one of the playwrights, Linda Amayo-Hassan who is writing my current project.
Growing up, I had always known where I should be. The silly tests like “what job would you be suited for” and the like all said the same thing and it was what I had already known. Entertainment. Yet, when I think back at all the shows that I watched, I didn’t see people like me in the roles that weren’t thugs or criminals of some kind, if they were in the show or movie at all. There were a handful of Latinx people on TV, but those were in dramas and I wasn’t keen on those as a kid. I stopped associating with anything that was culturally focused. I thought that I would be looked at as lesser than by theatre directors if I was more proud of it.
In my neighborhood and in schools I attended, so many of the mocha colored kids, like myself, were a part of gangs or misbehaving in some other way. Of course, that just isn’t my personality, Dear Reader. Eventually, I just made it through life believing that culture and race didn’t matter, that you just had to be a good person.
In an old job at Nordstrom, I used to work with this amazing lady name Mebrat. She was from Eritrea, a small country in Northern Africa. I swear that every day, as she watched people coming or going, she would say at least once “I wonder where s/he is from?” Finally, after weeks of this, I asked her why is that so important? Isn’t it more important that the person is kind and compassionate? I didn’t yell this or anything, mind you, Kind Reader, I respected her so much and we had some of my favorite conversations. I was truly curious because that was how my perspective was focused. She told me that she wanted to know what similarities were shared, what did they enjoy about their lives, did they emigrate here, were they second or third or more generation “American.” She was a lot like me, full of curiosity. Where we differed was that she was curious about people and I was curious about things and creating things. Her questions were “who are they?” and mine were “how did they do that?” While she did teach me to be curious about people, it wasn’t to the point that I needed to know where they were from and how that informed their view of the world. 🌍
It wasn’t until as recently as 3 or 4 years when I began to appreciate more movies from other cultures that shared their traditions and joys, and of course the terrible racist events around the country, that are still happening TO THIS DAY, that I began to want to know more about my own. And it sort of showed me a hole that had been falsely covered like some sort of hunting trap that one falls in because they weren’t looking where they were going.
Ms. Amayo-Hassan’s piece in the Pear Slices was about a Puerto Rican family who had lost their home on the island due to Hurricane Katrina, and the lack of help that followed. It was a beautiful piece because even while surrounded by this profound amount of death and loss, the parents still had hope and still were able to make one another smile. In it, the father questions if the government would have stepped in faster if this happened on the mainland. While Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens, this government dragged their feet getting any sort of assistance to the island to help rescue and rebuild. So he wondered if they are really citizens and asks why would they let “their people”suffer? Why would the government not help as it should? While I worked on this short play, I was finding all of these little questions in his motivations, his reactions and his silence. When I first started the play, I took it rather fairly straightforward with the upbeat parts being upbeat and the serious parts being more reserved. Then, as we got to walk through the piece more and more, I was finding things that felt like little betrayals, or small prayers for the dead, or at one point just fury.
Gentle Reader, I slowly began to realize that I had more in common with this character than I thought. I noticed that I was really hitting on some inner hurts that I had inflicted on myself thinking I was merely “American.” Finding all these gems of pain and sadness and betrayal even that Ricardo, the father character, felt helped to fill that hole I was feeling a little.
This new play, La Lechuza, is helping me learn a little more about the culture from my cast mates and I am doing my best to absorb everything that they are saying. It is also helping my pronunciation of the language. I would say this is a pretty good start on the self discovery path. This project is a staged reading for More Más Marami Arts in March, I believe. I will keep you posted as details get finalized.
Well, I hope this wasn’t too much of a jumbled mess of a post. As I mentioned before, it was a bit of a rush job to get this idea mostly formulated. I didn’t know how it was going to go because I know I had to give you a lot of backstory to get to the point. I just hope I got to it. 😂
Thank you, Dear Reader, for joining along in my rambles as I try to figure out my messy brain and all around self so that I can be my best when I step on to the stage. I always appreciate the chance to bend your ear.
Until next time, stay safe and alert. Be kind and take care of yourself and those you care about.