My intent is to use personal culture and experiences to take audiences on a journey that extends the perception of the traditional theatre box. This will be done through the development and exploration of immersive theatre, magical realism, and movement.
My state of make-believe as a child boarded on troubling for my parents, I would spend hours completely engrossed in whatever world I had built for myself. For those play sessions I was fully a Ninja Turtle, Power Ranger, or mostly Batman. Beyond pedestrian virtual reality experiences, contemporary audiences are craving something similar. They want to be closer and closer to the action: sometimes as bystanders, and
sometimes as participants. This may be attributed to the video game generation coming of age and seeking that same level of immersion, or an intense desire for next level escapism. These desires have manifested in a number of ways in the last decade. A severe example being extreme haunted houses, where participants sign releases agreeing to anything from waterboarding to medical injections. We have also seen these Off-Broadway with Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, and commercially with productions like Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. I gained first-hand experience in immersive theatre while serving as the storywriter on krāv, a devised immersive supper club. With this, I was able to see the level of insight and production needed to seamlessly make these experiences work. My suspicions about an audience's desire for complete immersion were confirmed after a viewing of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Carne y Arena at LACMA. Here, a single viewer experiences I.C.E. detention and crossing the Mexican-American border with a group of immigrants. Their true-life stories are learned in a series of close-up documentary vignettes seen at the end of the experience. This further demonstrated that there is incredible narrative storytelling opportunity in the medium and audiences are hungry for it. I would like to explore this new medium for producing both existing texts and original works. In doing so, there is a unique opportunity to help audiences understand and sympathize with stories that may not reach them in a traditional setting.
As a second generation Mexican-American growing up in the suburbs of Illinois, I navigated life between the traditional Midwestern and Hispanic cultures. Most often this left me as an outsider looking in, with only theatre and the arts as an outlet for expression. The Hispanic culture lives in a state of magical realism, incorporating extraordinary magical elements into daily life without a hint of irony: from folk icons like El Cucuy (The Boogie Man) and La Llorona (The Crying Woman), to sayings like “mal de ojo” (“the evil eye.”) Magical realism is incredibly lyrical, like a warm breeze that kicks up sand, but it does not exclusively live in the Hispanic culture. Magical realism lies in any story where the ordinary intersect with extraordinary. Through this lens, texts could breathe new life. Playwrights like Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa do this beautifully, but the opportunities for revisiting works are endless. A Doll’s House where we see Nora controlled by a universal feminist power, or a Crucible where we feel a true demonic presence in the town leading Mary to her actions. Through directing, producing, and curating: a staple of my heritage will allow me to transform and revisit classical and contemporary works.
Dance has been part of my identity for the past twenty years. While I have studied a number of disciplines: tap and jazz have had the most influence in my understanding of beat, tempo, and space. At its best dance is not a series of steps, but a sensory experience that conveys emotion and tells a story. Audiences are accustomed to movement or dance in theatre: a viewpoints inspired piece like In the Red and Brown Water directed by Tina Landau or Agnes de Mille’s “Dream Ballet” from Oklahoma! Viewpoints are a powerful ensemble-building tool, they cannot be the only devices employed. Similarly, dance should not be utilized solely for emotion or a story conduit. The worlds of dance and theatre deserve further exploration for points of contact, embracing their differences while exploiting their similarities. Bringing them both back to a purely emotional state, it may be possible to rebuild through devised works. In contemporary texts there is potential for the exploration of movement; like Corpus Christi, where the work is heavily dependent on concept and ritual. On a visceral level, dance and theater have too much to offer to be satisfied with their current marriage.
As a working professional my efforts will be in incorporating and expanding theatre and movement while being truthful to the pieces. The evolving perception and interests of theater patrons will allow these genres to be seen in commercial and regional settings. In a warehouse or Broadway theatre, collaboration and conversation will be where the reexamination begins.