There I sat in rapt attention…

Before I say anything, I have to give a gigantic THANK YOU to my boss, Ms. Amy Root!!! If it wasn’t for her radicalness, I would have not been able to catch the whole evening whilst looking shockingly presentable.  There’s pictures of me floating around somewhere.  🙂

Friday night,  Teatro Vision held a little fundraiser to help cover the cost of sending two Teatro Vision representatives to the National Theater Communications Group Conference.  Typically, this conference is held in the East Coast, but this year, it’s happening in the City of Angeles.  The TCG is focused on how to keep the Arts alive and changing with the times.  On their site, they say that the theme of the conference is “What if…” I think it’s a brilliant theme and I loved some of the questions they posed on the page.  You should check it out!

How could I not want to help a local company, that has given me so many opportunities, travel to something this important?  With this in mind, I accepted the invitation to the get together and was granted permission by Elisa to take photographs of the night.  Since I didn’t want to distract the performers, I didn’t use the flash, so there is a kind of 70’s looking graininess to them that I kind of like.  But I really did want some clear shots especially for the dancers.
The night’s hosts Rodrigo and Elisa made everyone feel welcome and thanked the crowd many times over.  Rodrigo was the emcee and he was incredibly charming behind the mic.  He spoke of the hope that this event may be something that Teatro will host every few months to have a chance to reconnect with each other.  It was a small gathering, but he said we were all familia.  That’s one of the great things about Teatro Vision that keeps me wanting to go back again and again.
First up to perform was Cristal Gonzalez.  She performed a monologue titled Hero & Saints.  This multi-character scene began with an Erin Brockovich type reporter bringing to light the toxic water supply in a California city and the citizens struggle with governmental assistance.  The reporter shifts into a gossipy neighbor, then into a mother and grandmother of a child dying from the water.  It was a lovely piece that makes me want to know the rest of the story.
Next up was Sarita Ocon.
Sarita performed an original piece called “Compromise.”  This performance was also uses a monologue from the play “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.”  While speaking with her, I found out that it’s an exaggeration on an experience that happened to her at an audition once.  She slates as one would at any audition, then begins to launch into her monologue.  She is repeatedly interrupted by the director who is constantly trying to make her more feminine or more “Latina” I cannot explain how fascinating this was to watch.  I just knew that I was watching someone incredibly special.  I mean, I have NEVER paid so much attention to how someone rolls up their sleeves.  I was completely enthralled and did not ever want it to end.  Her transformations were marvelous.  You could see, after she was “directed,” she took time to change her attack and she showed you without a word and without making it a long drawn out thing.
Not only was her performance mesmerizing, but her story was so full and complete that it wasn’t until after I got home that I realized the song that lead into her piece was a perfect choice.  I don’t know if she requested to be brought onto the stage to the tune of “I’m Your Puppet” by James and Bobby Purify, but it fit with the idea that she had to do the things that the director wanted.
By the time she was done, she was the complete opposite than what she started and was so much more intense that when she left the stage, the room exploded with applause.  Truly an amazing and gifted artist, and I would LOVE to work with her.
The next performer was a shock to me for two reasons. The first was that this is a Latino function and there’s so much machismo in this culture that I didn’t expect it.  The second was the audience reaction.  I feel bad because I couldn’t quite catch the name, but we were treated to a fun three song set of a drag performance.
Her heels must have been at least 3.5 inches so I don’t know how she did all that she did in them.  Props to her for that alone!!  She worked the crowd and they loved it.  I wish I could tell you the songs she used, but they were in spanish and I was just lost.  So I focused on the beat and the dancing.  She was all kindsa sassy!  So fun though.
Closing out the show would be my first folklorico dances since I truly began to appreciate dance.  My friend the beautiful Anees Guillen and her dance partner Alex Morales delighted the crowd with a three song set as well.  It was stunning.  I couldn’t help but to be drawn to the way she would work that dress!! It just moved to well.  They had asked me to make these little calls or yelps to cheer them on, so when I tried it, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right.  I didn’t do them very loud, but I tried.  
While it was the end of the performances, the night was still young, so I hung around and danced my first line dance! When I told Perry and one of my other friends this, their reaction was the same: Me: I danced my first line dance.  Them: Ugh!  Me: It was to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy-Breaky Heart.  Them: UUgh!  Me: In Spanish.  Them:  UUUGH!!
But it was super fun.  I got a little sweaty thanks to the tunes of our playlist iDJ, Hugo, who was also very active in getting everyone into the line.  I think in all there were four songs that had a line dance type of movement to them.
In the MACLA gallery, I was greeted by the works of Elizabeth Gomez.  She works with mixed media to create images of nature/animals that are adapting to human habitats mixed with religious iconography.  One of my favorites called “Crow”  is a large beautiful piece of blues with little faux flowers that looked to be painted to match the canvas settings.  It’s a charming and lovely piece that would look perfect in my blues filled living room.
One of her other pieces was of a mountain lion that had been shot by Animal Control, I believe it was.  I don’t know if you remember the mountain lion that was found in the backyard of a Redwood City home and was shot rather than captured and released that happened a while back.  Thanks to, for lack of a properly respectful term, Ms. Gomez’s love of nature, her sorrow for this pointless killing inspired her to create a stuffed toy replica of the lion and underneath is scarlet red fabric. There are three deep indentations with that same scarlet fabric sewn into them with ribbons of it flowing out the “wounds.”  I am sure that my likemindedness regarding nature and destroying other creatures homes for humanity’s benefit allowed me to connect with this image and made me feel what I guess is the same sorrow that she felt.  The hanging flowers over the body offer a touching element representing that love of nature.   I was so caught up in looking at the lion and the other works that Ms. Gomez created that I didn’t even realize the doors opened and people were filing in.
All in all, it was a wonderful night! I got to hang out with my buddies Hugo,  Rodrigo, Anees,  and Elisa.  I got to meet some cool new people like Alex and Sarita.  And I was blessed with inspiration.  What more could I hope for?

What a lucky lad am I…

Can you believe after 6 long weeks of silence, I am back on the podcasty waves?

Episode 16

(Click to listen, then do the Muppet dance.  YAY!)


The more you know…

I love when I talk to people that I am working with.  And I don’t mean the usual “Hi, how are you?” kind of stuff.  I was so lucky that I had the opportunity to chat with Teatro Vision’s Artistic Director Elisa Alvarado.  I am currently working on editing the interview for a podcast, so YAY!!

During my talk with her, I feel like I learned more about why I want to open my own theatre company some day.  I doubt that I would be lucky enough to have the same sort of eventful career that she got to have.  I think in my head, what I picture is, as Elisa explained to me in the interview, more of a collective than a “company.”  There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with people that you truly enjoy working with and creating good times and experiences with.  I hope you enjoy the interview when I get it posted.

The other thing that I love about doing these interviews is that it just inspires me to keep going, to keep working, to keep dreaming, to keep enjoying, and to keep protesting.  To make sure that I should do everything I can to help companies that I believe in and to promote the artists that I admire and enjoy.

Yippee!! (insert bell-kick here)

The rehearsals for the show are going swimmingly!  Most of Act 1 is staged and we are just building momentum.  I can’t wait for the day when I can direct my own shows.  Watching people like Katie O’Bryon and Elisa Alvarado adjust a scene with actors is so fascinating to me. Helping to create little moments within the scenes is a difficult job, but they make it seem so effortless and they include the actors when working the kinks out.

Elisa works with Ultima and the Marez familia

Tonight’s rehearsal was just me and the two that play my parents, Jay Vera and Melinna Bobadilla.  While there were a lot of laughs, we quickly worked through one of the last scenes in Act 1, and talked through some of the counterintuitive moments that we were coming up against.  One of the first things that we needed to address was that the size of the stage didn’t feel proportionate to the home setting.  In normal circumstances, the solution would be to just move things around.  Easy Peasy!  Unfortunately, thanks to working on a raked stage, moving a set piece designed to stand on a slanted plain won’t stand the same way on a flat surface.

Snapshot of the model set.

This is what the empty stage would look like.  The Mexican Heritage Theatre is, from my understanding, HUGE!  I get giddy just thinking about it.  It is said to have incredible wing space and decent fly space.  That’s a luxury that not many theatres have.  But back to the work.  After making some repositioning decisions, we charged into the scene.  Our actor playing Young Tony, Lalo Lopez, was unavailable this evening, but it was a great challenge to try and feel out something for him for the scene.  I don’t mean that in a mean or snarky way.  I truly did enjoy the challenge of using sense memory to try and put some emotional weight in the lines while not having a partner to work off of during some of the scene sections.  That in turn, gives something for the other actors to work with as well.

We worked all over the scene, and I was startled with the alarm went off saying that rehearsal time is over.   I really wanted to at least run the ending of the scene and the exit at least one more time for the traffic pattern and for piece of mind knowing that I have it stuck in my noggin.  Alas, with rehearsal over, we were dismissed.  So after saying goodbyes and whatnot, I bounded out into the chilly night air with a lightness in my feet.

Tomorrow night is a stage combat or stage fighting workshop. Woo to the hoo!  I am wicked excited for it.  I love fight workshops! Love them.  Of course, I’ve only taken the one with the karate teacher guy for West Side Story.  That was awesome!!!  Of course it didn’t hurt that I had the amazing Tony Dicorti as my fight partner.  I am wondering how this is going to turn out.  Only because the way I interpreted the script, there wasn’t a scene in it that called for much fighting.  Maybe some shoving, but I don’t recall any fighting.

Until tomorrow…


Let’s start at the beginning one more time…

Woo hoo!! The countdown to my first rehearsal for the next show has begun! Less than half a day to go and I have to say that I am very nearly biting my nails with nerves and excitement. Orientation for Bless Me, Ultima with Teatro Vision will be held tomorrow.  It’ll be great to finally get to meet everyone that is in the cast.

A brief synopsis of the show is as follows: The Marez family is one full of conflicts.  The central character of the play is the youngest son, Tony.  His mother wants him to grow up to become a priest “which will bring honor to their family.”  His father wants him to be a vaquero or cowboy because “his people are of the llano” and long to be out in the open.  A friend of the family, Ultima, one day comes to live with the Marez family.  Ultima is like a a female shaman; she uses herbs and natural ingredients to cure illness and even curses.  Tony, who has been conditioned to believe that god is only found in church, becomes confused with knowledge that Ultima shares with him regarding what she’s able to do.

One of the things that usually happen during the first rehearsal is a table read, or a read thru.  Basically, everyone just sits and reads the script.  It’s not exciting to describe, but as people settle in to the reading you get to hear the beginnings of the possibility that is held within.  Sometimes, that simple exercise of the table read, creates a great bonding experience if the script is powerful enough.

I’ve read the book and there are a lot of things that couldn’t be fit into the play.  While reading the script, I sort of feel like the transitions between the scenes are a little abrupt.  I will be eager to see what the lighting and scene design team are going to come up with.

Something else that I want to accomplish tomorrow is to set a time for an interview with the director of the play.  I hope to talk to her about not only the play but also Teatro Vision and her experience in theatre.  Maybe I’ll be able to get her to help me score an interview with the playwright.

I am so excited for this next project, and I will keep you posted.