Dallas — One of the biggest growth stories for a local theater in this decade has been of Cara Mía Theatre Company, a Chicano theater company originally founded in the late 1990s. It took a hiatus for much of the aughts, and was resurrected by David Lozano with an original production of Crystal City 1969 in 2009—and that production will be revived in the upcoming season. The group now produces a full season at the Latino Cultural Center, has done a co-production with the North Texas’ only LORT theater, the Dallas Theater Center, and has grown in annual budget size from shoestring to more than $400,000.
Another sign of the growth came recently with the announcement that it has made a new hire and notable promotions. The new hire is for a position called Curator of Community Action—the only position of this type in a North Texas theater. In that role is seasoned community organizer Ernest McMillan, who has a long history of fighting for civil rights in Dallas. The position is supported by the Embrey Family Foundation.
Cara Mía Theatre has also promoted Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso to Manager of Educational Programs and Patron Services (she previously served as the Community Engagement Coordinator); and Frida Espinosa Müller will serve as Head of Best Teaching Practices for youth programs.
The are all part-time, along with managing director Ariana Cook. Artistic Director David Lozano is full-time.
“The idea came about when the Embrey Family Foundation provided grant money to support initiatives that intersect social justice and the arts,” says Lozano. “It immediately occurred to me that we needed to take our political plays one step further because we need to inspire people to get out and vote their conscience in this upcoming election. For Crystal City 1969, we are going to have workshops for high school students to discover the power of voting and how they can impact electoral politics and public policy change. We are going to have opportunities for young people and newly naturalized immigrants who see Crystal City 1969 to register to vote.”
“We are also going to host a community conversation on how we can bridge the divide between the concerns for Police safety and supporting people’s justice movements like Black Lives Matter,” Lozano adds. “We are going to have a panel of activists from the 60’s who can share their experiences with youth. And each play of the season will have activities that will inspire audience members to discuss the play in terms of social and civic responsibility and learn about ways to act.”
For each production, McMillan will curate panels, presentations and workshops to encourage students, families, and patrons towards positive community action.
“We are proud to partner with Cara Mía Theatre in this capacity,” says Lauren Embrey, President and CEO of the Embrey Family Foundation. “We wholly believe that art can and should lead the way for community awareness and action to make change. Cara Mía is stepping forward and we are proud to walk with them.”