Dallas — I'm taking midnight bus rides to Dallas from San Antonio, commuting back and forth for six weeks to direct Cara Mía Theatre Company’s production of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Yemaya's Belly, opening March 4.
When David Lozano, Cara Mía's Producing Artistic Director, asked me to direct, I could not pass up the opportunity, even though I am balancing my San Antonio life of teaching, writing, and being a mom. One day I'll be able to say that I wrote about one-fourth of my graduate thesis on the bus, a few of those pages written while we were driving through a tornado warning, and another few pages during a drug bust.
I've been away from Dallas for about 15 years. I came back once to interview for the Directorship at the Latino Cultural Center. I didn't get the job.
I left Dallas to work for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio. I now teach writing at Our Lady of the Lake University, where I'll get my MFA in Creative Writing, Literature, and Social Justice in May. I live in the Chicanx epicenter of the world, and yes: our tacos are better than Austin's.
Much has changed. When I left, Cara Mía (I was artistic director) was still hungry for space to produce, to rehearse.
Now, space is ample: We rehearsed Yemaya's Belly in the sprawl that is the Dallas Children's Theater [at Rosewood Center for Family Arts]; we perform at the Latino Cultural Center. Both these spaces were not built when I left.
I remember the days of the old Ice House in Oak Cliff, the night when Sandra Cisneros came to see our intimate production of Milagritos, my little dog Lupe (qepd) running around free as we rehearsed; our co-productions with Soul Rep; Mexican Medea, directed by Cara Mía co-founder Adelina Anthony [she cofounded it with Eliberto Gonzales], at the Undermain. I remember our hustle.
Cara Mía is still hustling. Lozano has built a Latinx theater company for the nation.
Then, like now: Cara Mía is true teatro: play-making with conciencia, theatrical performance aware of and connected to its community.
You don’t have to be Latinx to get teatro. The stories resonate cross-culturally because teatro is American theater.
Cara Mía produces contemporary theater that speaks through the Latinx community to reveal the America where I belong—not The America of Exclusion. Yemaya's Belly, in particular, speaks to the American Dream.
But is the American Dream still alive?
Teatro is political. The personal is political. Teatristas do not disengage with the world to do theater.
I am reeling about Standing Rock, unjustified ICE arrests, more loco banter and mean directives from the White House. I'm doing what I can, more teatro, with more umf, more pow, more in-your-face.
Maybe you are, too. This is me: first generation U.S. citizen y que?
Yemaya's Belly is an American Story. Why? Because it is a story about coming of age, losing your home, and taking a big leap of faith. Working with Cara Mía on Yemaya's Belly is my way of supporting the right of the immigrant.
To be human is to be an immigrant—to dream, to journey, to seek community.