The cast of <em>Bridges: Multiracial Connections</em> at Flexible Grey Theatre Company&nbsp;

Review: Bridges: Multiracial Connections | Flexible Grey Theatre Company | Latino Cultural Center

Building More Bridges

Flexible Grey Theatre Company does a second installment of its Bridges series, this one focused on multiracial identities.

published Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Photo: Seth Johnson
The cast of Bridges: Multiracial Connections at Flexible Grey Theatre Company 


Dallas — Since one of their first productions, a show called Bridges that specifically dealt with the multigenerational experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, Flexible Grey Theatre Company has been on the move. From what amounted to a hallway at the Resource Center, to a former church’s basement in Oak Cliff, to a comedy club in the Design District, the company manages to transform whatever space they’re able to procure to great effect.

It’s near impossible, however, to think of a better venue for their current production of Bridges: Multiracial Connections than the Latino Cultural Center Gallery. When you arrive, there are five empty chairs at the front of the space. Behind them is Colombian artist Ivonne Acero’s Identical, Different, a 2019 artwork that uses 72 identical miniature dress forms to cover a large part of the back wall. Each form is painted a different flesh-tone hue to mirror the variations possible within the standard shape as well as within the human form itself.

To the audience’s left are Sara Cardona’s mixed-media prints of overlapping fabrics like serapes, ponchos, and bandanas — collages of the diverse clothing available in her native Mexico. (TJ readers will also recognize Cardona as current executive director of Teatro Dallas.) To the right, a collection of rough ceramic goblets by Texas sculptor Diana Marquis. The pottery, like the other nearby art, seems to illustrate how a common form can still contain a multitude of differences. One basic design or structure opens up a field of almost overwhelming variables and possibilities—an aspect that is further exemplified by Flexible Grey’s work at this site.

The visual art is curated by Viola Delgado as part of the LCC’s Diez Latinas: A Common Thread, a multimedia exhibit that includes painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, mosaic, prints, and mixed media by ten Latina artists. Bridges: Multiracial Connections fits perfectly within this context and helps to give voice to the themes of the exhibit.

The Bridges format is as much oral history as it is theater. It’s an ongoing series in which the group conducts interviews with members of their target audience and then remixes the responses in order to devise an entertaining and often heartwarming chorus of voices. The performers are Gaz Garcia, Theresa Kellar, Raven Lanuza-Brown, Tevia Loeser, and Nenad Vukovic. (Understudy Mark Beshai wasn’t used during the reviewed performance.) Except for maybe Garcia, who recently played Lee in Imprint Theatreworks’ Festival of Independent Theatres entry Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel, this might be the first time you see these actors’ faces. Each one wears dark jeans and an identical Flexible Grey shirt. The common monochrome outfits underscore the perceptible differences of the actors inside.

Biracial actor Mindamora Rocha directs. In an episode of TeaTalks, the podcast created by Flexible Grey that runs monthly on TheaterJones, Rocha explains her own background and the ensuing difficulties in finding a good part to play: “My dad is Mexican-American and my mom was born in the Philippines. And so I look very, I guess a lot of people would say ‘ambiguous.’ […] I haven’t played a person that identifies as a part of my heritage, either Mexican or Asian, without being accented. Except once.”

Similar stories about the difficulties involved in growing up as a biracial person suffuse the 70-minute show, which begins with a veritable onslaught of overlapping voices that catalog the various multi-ethnic identities of the people interviewed. None of them purport to be 100 percent of anything. Instead, the audience is treated to the perspectives of people who are combinations of African-American and Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, Slavic, European, Middle Eastern, and other identities.

After the initial flood of information, the structure becomes more placid, as the actors relate snippets of stories from the interviewees in a casual, conversational tone that is neither preachy nor “teachy.” Each story revolves around common themes such as family, food, holidays, language, and professions. Things get really interesting when the ethnic identities mentioned above start intersecting with other identity categories based on religion, social class, and sexuality. In many ways, the show is like a fleshed-out ad on steroids.

The actors are master storytellers. In the best way, they embody the scripted words. It’s usually easy to mistake the actors as the authors of the story they’re sharing because they’re so physically and vocally invested in it. Problems with the gallery’s cavernous acoustics are mitigated by the actors’ clear enunciation delivered with steady, but unhurried, pacing.

Regardless of your own ethnic identity and background, Bridges offers a solemn glimpse of how biracial individuals are often outcast or feel “othered” in whatever ethnic contexts they find themselves in. You’ll hear how skin color can seemingly override one’s ethnic background and what life’s like for those who refuse to play the role of “the tragic [M-word].” You’ll get a sense of what it’s like to contend with relentless slurs like “Oreo” and “coconut” as well as the N-word, the S-word, and the W-word; to be called “whitewashed” by your own grandmother; and to take advantage of “white-skin privilege” while still being denied the privileges afforded to whites. You’ll get first-hand reports about feeling shame for “not being brown enough,” and about being racially profiled, and about how to deflect from the ever-present question “What are you?” Bridges’ take-away message highlights the importance of embracing the fluidity of identity while attempting to balance how that identity manifests both internally and externally.

As you make your way to the Latino Cultural Center, please remember that Live Oak continues to be closed because of the construction crane that collapsed at the beginning of June. The LCC parking lot is open, but you need to access it from Cantegral St., which runs parallel to N. Good Latimer Expressway, and intersects both Gaston and Swiss. Usually there are multiple events going on, so just follow the signs for Flexible Grey. Arrive early to enjoy the art exhibit that reinforces and intensifies the show’s message of just how much representation truly does matter. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Building More Bridges
Flexible Grey Theatre Company does a second installment of its Bridges series, this one focused on multiracial identities.
by Frank Garrett

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :