Thursday, March 06, 2008

Teatro Luna 's Shining Light

Teatro Luna Fabulousness!

Teatro Luna
has a BRAND NEW SHOW opening on March 6th, but you can catch it now! This Saturday and Sunday see a sneak preview of Teatro Luna's most intimate show yet... SOLO TU, a collection of
four interwoven solos all about different women's experiences with PREGNANCY.

One woman thinks she's finally built the perfect family - Mom, Dad, Cute Kid- until an invasion of mice makes her wonder what's really going on. Another woman finds herself caught up in the worst kind of Baby-Daddy-Single-Mama Drama. Meanwhile, a woman in her third year of trying to get pregnant decides her pregnant friends make her want to vomit, and her close friend wrestles with pro-life activists, hospital robes, and how she feels about having an abortion in her 30's.

Saturday @ 7:30 pm and Sunday @ 6pm
SHOW RUN: March 6-April 6 2008 Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 7:30 pm Sundays @ 6pm Chicago Dramatists 1105 W. Chicago Ave, at Milwaukee Tickets $15, Student and Senior Discount on Thursdays and Sundays only, $10 $12 Group Sale price, parties of 8 or more For tickets, visit

Mind, you the company is filled with talented, writers and performers, and it was rough to pair down, but gente, enjoy this interview with three of Teatro Luna's members, Diana Pando, who does administration for the group as well as writing, Tanya Saracho and Diana Herrera, both writers/actors.


Describe your own personal journey as a writer.

Well, I’m trying to catch up to myself in this writer’s journey. I write poems, press releases, blog, snippets here and there of scenes and dialogue. I want to spend more time writing fiction and trying to better understand my creative process. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the arts and enjoy supporting their creative efforts. This year, I’m going to be a little selfish and focus in on my creative pursuits. I’ve always liked journal writing. Just the other day I dusted one off and leafed through the pages and it allowed me to remember myself in another place and time. Writing is so powerful. I think when you write your higher self is revealed.

How did your voice and your message begin to reveal itself?

Voice is so powerful. You either use it or lose it. I think my writer’s voice is still revealing itself in these early stages of my writing life. For me it’s writing bits and pieces here and there. Eventually, coming back to the kladeiscope of writing that I do and putting it all together.

Who were/are important influences for you?

There are a lot of wonderful writers that inspire and influence me. The one that impacted me directly was my mom. She worked long hours at a meat packing plant and at the thrift store on the south side so I can have the luxury of writing. After she passed, I found a lot of notebooks with journal entries, unfinished letters and poems. Every now and then I find a little note that brings a smile to my face.

How does Teatro Luna feed your creative life and vise versa?

Teatro Luna has creative energy spewing out in every direction. The ensemble is such an energetic and hilarious group of talented women. You can’t help but be inspired. They are paving the way for that next generation of Latinas in the arts. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in one of their writing workshops. The piece that I created out of the workshop is called Tía Betty and the Glucose of Doom based on my mom’s struggle with diabetes. The workshop process is definitely a powerful one. It gave me the creative kick in the butt to nudge me a long. As a result, the 20 minute piece I wrote is slowly expanding taking on a life of it’s own. I work on and off on it because it’s a hard and personal piece to write.

What's the significance of working in an all woman-all Latina teatro?

I think it was in 2002 when I first went to see one of TL’s shows when they were at the Pilsen space. I was blown away! I had never seen Latinas on stage before. It was a major discovery for me. By creating new works Teatro Luna is impacting local and national audiences through touring. Teatro Luna is currently the only Latina theatre company producing full seasons. For me there is nothing better than seeing these brilliant Latinas blazing on stage and practicing their art and sharing the stories of Latinas with others. Their communal creativity is really in harmony with each other and adds to their success.

You work in a variety of discplines---playwriting, poetry, performance--
Talk about the differences in each. Is there a genre you feel is your "favorite?"

As an emerging writer, I think my strengths are poetry and fiction writing. I’m dabbling in playwriting because I’m absolutely fascinated by creating dialogue and having actors bring the characters to life. Even though I’ve been doing theatre administration for Teatro Luna they teach me so much about the process.

Talk a little about Proyecto Latina. What do you hope it provides for community writers, and book lovers?

Proyecto Latina is a wonderful community based initiative between Tianguis Bookstore, Teatro Luna and myself. This open mic takes place every 3rd Monday of the month at Radio Arte and it’s a place for Latina’s to come out and show off their talent whether it’s poetry, fiction writing, belly dancers and Hula Hoopers it’s an open mic that brings together emerging and established Latinas in the arts to share, explore and encourage their creative pursuits. We are impacting that next generation by giving them an outlet to show off their creativity. Irasema Gonzales, owner of Tianguis Bookstore, has done an amazing job of lining up some the best features. There’s even a chismé box where you can drop your anonymous chismé and we read them during the open mic. Please drop in and check it out. Log on to

What are you sources of inspiration?

A source of inspiration for me is walking through the city. I’m a big fan of long walks despite a toe spur gone amuck. Anyway, too much information. Friends always look at me with suspicion when I tell them we are just three blocks away. Rightfully, so I guess. Three blocks is the equivalent of ten blocks for me. I’m a wanderer. I love to look at people, places and things. Me embobo luego, luego, especially when I’m in Mexico City. There is nothing like being in the Zócalo on a rainy day. Definitely inspires and leaves me drenched. I always forget my umbrella…

What's the role of female friendship in your daily life and as a writer?

Funny you should ask this question. It’s my lifeline! I can’t go back to anything else. In 2002, Irasema Gonzales invited me to see a reading of Sandra Cisneros up at Loyola. I was feeling a little lazy and it was cold out. Thankfully, she dragged me out there anyway. It was an amazing reading and what came out of it was such a blessing. After the reading Sandra was signing her book and answering questions. There was this annoying girl with a red shirt talking and talking to Sandra. “Hurry Up” I wanted to yell “We want to talk to Sandra too!” The line finally began to move and when we got there Irasema asked about writing groups and Sandra told us to connect with the woman in red. The woman in red is now a dear friend and fabulous writer. Our writing group consists of Lizann Acosta, Professor of World Literature & Teatro Luna Artistic Associate, Irasema Salinas, Tianguis Bookstore Owner, Family Dr. Yolanda Cardenas, Magda Banda Ph.d Candidate in Comparative Education and me. Sandra probably has no idea but she’s our writing group madrina.

Where would you like to be creatively and professionally in ten years?

In ten years, I will be producing consistent work in different generes of writing, collaborating with other Latinas on projects, encouraging Latino professionals to support the arts through philanthropy, create the Mariposa Atomica Arts Fund and do advocacy work for the arts. Latinos enrich the arts in the city of Chicago and it’s important that we support and cultivate those efforts.

Tell us something not in the offical bio.

I have an 800 pound Dalmation and he’s more than a decade old, I’m a mascara junkie and my favorite mantra is vision + action = Reality.

(Courtesy Time Out Chicago)

Describe your own personal journey as a writer.
How did your voice and your message begin to reveal itself?
Who were/are important influences for you?

I am undisciplined and disorganized. My journey is clunky and aimless lately. Ultimamente, I write because projects are due. I haven't written for the joy of it in a while. Well, angry emails and blogs, but nothing of note. Inspiration hits me like a headache, or a stomach ache-it's a painful process sometimes-and it hits at the most inopportune times. Like when I'm driving and talking on the phone, when I'm in a waiting room-with no paper or pen, when I'm in the bathroom. It just hits and runs through my body like diarrhea. It is not a pleasant experience sometimes. It used to be. The little lightning bolt that tingled. Now? It's mostly a painful thing. Maybe it's because of the pieces I've been working on lately. I don't know.

Everyday people influence me. I love how people talk. I love dialogue. I love talking. I sort of like listening. I like talking more. But when I do listen, I love the shifts in cadence and tone, tilts of accents and quirks of the vernacular. I love how people talk. I love how MY people talk. And that umbrella is a large one. I consider most MY people.

How does Teatro Luna feed your creative life and vise versa?
What's the significance of working in an all woman-all Latina teatro?

I would never have been able to explore the topics and styles I've explored during the last eight years, had it not been for Teatro Luna. Who would've produced a half bilingual play about a two young Mexican girls growing up in Texas? Who would have produced three monologues about being a woman of Mexican descent, and let me play them all? Who would have let me show my scars, both physical and emotional, and not judge me harshly for it? No where would I have been able to do that. Teatro Luna is a beautiful thing. It's a sisterhood, it's a womb-I don't care if I sound cheesy-it IS a womb. People feel it when they come around us. Everyone's worked is supported, pero tambien nos jalamos las orejas. It's a beautiful thing. I love women. I love women's stories. I love to give voice to women. I...I just love women.

In a related vein, Teatro Luna has plumbed the Latina experience and pushed the envelope on issues of identity, gender and relationship. Talk about TL's significance as a child of traditional teatro, of post-movimiento social commentary.

It's hard for me to have perspective on this. I'm not objective. Obviously, I think what we do is really interesting. But I don't think we've pushed the envelope enough. What we do is pretty simple. We get up there and tell stories. If that's not traditional teatro, I don't know what is. In form, we are not that...I don't know, we are not that innovative. Episodic, ensemble-built work has been around since the Greeks, since Miracle plays, since Spanish pasarelas and posadas de la colonia and early twentieth century Latin American revistas. I think our uniqueness is found in the sum of our parts, in the combination of how we treat topics, how we build pieces, in our gender and our race/ethinicity/nationalities. It's the sum of all those things that create that special something that is Luna.

You work in a variety of disciplines---playwriting, poetry, performance--
Talk about the differences in each. Is there a genre you feel is your "favorite?"

I'm mostly a writer for the stage. I don't have a talent for poetry. I respect poets immensely. To be able to structure and mold words aurally and rhythmically is a talent I truly admire.

Talk a little about Proyecto Latina. What do you hope it provides for community writers and book lovers?

I can't believe we've been doing Proyecto Latina for two years now. I remember the first time we did it, and how we filled Meztli Cafe and how every one was excited about every performer. You could feel the electricity in the place. Not much has changed, the location perhaps, but people are still excited to hear and support new work by Latina writers-of all genres, not just poetry. It provides a much needed outlet and cocoon to nurture our work.

What are you sources of inspiration? What's the role of female friendship in your daily life and as a writer?

All my plays are about females. I don't think that's limiting in the least; They all deal with a female central character and I can't deny it, each and every one has at least a bit of coloring that I draw from the women in my life. My mother, my sisters, my Teatro Luna sisters (who are more than friends)... I take the ribbons of vernacular from their mouths and plaster them on the stage. Their words are much more brilliant than mine will ever be. They are wise and funny and flawed. It's my friend's Yadira's zinger lines and her obsession with the perfect meal. It's my friend Miranda's struggle for her dreams and the sting failure causes. It's Tatiana's depression and her unwillingness to come to surface, but her attempt at it every day. It's my friends navigating their contradictions. Those things are much more interesting than anything I'd come up with on my own. Now I might piss people off. Make them angry because I just take one tiny little shade of blue here, or a smudge of brown and they think that's definitive of my opinion of them. But that's never the case. I am often in trouble for it though.

Where would you like to be creatively and professionally in ten years?

I'd love to be feeding myself fully with the work. Sharing it with as many people as possible. In whatever form. Whatever that means. Whether bigger stages. More productions. Far reaching publications. I'm not sure what that means, but I'd like to have figured it out and be in a place to open doors for other people. Be on the founding stage of programming that makes sure our voice is being heard. In ten years I would have liked to have gotten out of my myopic state and attempt a period piece about hoodoo in the American South during the late 1800's. Nothing to do with Latinidad. That's just a little project that has been rattling in my brain. But it's a long time for that one. In a decade, I'd like to have a cannon of work I can be proud of, but having the best yet to come. Also, in ten years Teatro Luna will be an institution; financially healthy, administratively strong, artistically excellent. Still doing the work.

Tell us something not in the official bio.

I am addicted to divination and getting my cards read. Every week. Every. Week. My name is Tanya Selene Saracho Armenta, and I am a divination addict.


Describe your own personal journey as a writer.

I took a new plays workshop class in college as an actor, but the teacher made all of us write these six-line scenes…it was my first time writing dialogue and characters and I had a blast. My teacher thought I had potential, so he kept bugging me to take his Playwriting class. I was like, I'm not a writer but he persisted. I finally took the class and fell in love with writing. I write solo pieces and short plays now, and I'm working on trying to get a full-length completed…kinda hard when you have a 6 month old at home! But I'm trying!

How did your voice and your message begin to reveal itself?

I don't think my voice really revealed itself until I started working with Teatro Luna. I learned a huge lesson "write what you know". I also learned to write from a more honest place—my writing has progressed leaps and bounds since I started working with these lovely ladies!

Who were/are important influences for you?

Important influences—I'm not very well read when it comes to playwrights—I know, I know…it's a shame. But I do have to say that Tanya Saracho has been a huge influence on me. I love how ALIVE her characters seem—she is so good at mapping these journeys for her characters that are interesting and humanizing…you walk away from the show dazed, thinking where did that time go? It just flew by? What's going to happen to that lady now? And you find yourself still wondering about that character weeks later…that's the sign of a great writer. To keep you involved with the story even after you leave the theater.

How does Teatro Luna feed your creative life and vise versa?

Since a lot of the TL projects are ensemble-based, I tend to spark ideas off my fellow cast members. I love that they have workshops where you can bring in your writing and get feedback…I think it's such a great environment for developing new work.

What's the significance of working in an all woman-all Latina teatro?

The all-woman all-Latina teatro is a GODSEND. I worked in sketch comedy for a long time, and the male competitiveness is incredible. And if you are a woman who is a talented and prolific writer, watch out! One time, I actually had one of my cast members call me to tell me to stop writing so much…he was upset that I was constantly "showing him up" because I'd bring in 10 sketches to his 3. It's fine to have healthy competition, but not in an ensemble setting. That conversation ruined the project for me. Another wonderful thing about working with all women is when you're having a bad day, you don't get the "she must be PMS'ing" eye roll…you can be more open with your emotions. It also frees you up creatively because you are more likely to be more open with your work and more willing to accept criticism.

I enjoy the COLLABORATIVE feel of TL, and a lot of it has to do with the all-women role. As for all-Latina…it's like being home. I might not speak Spanish, but I identify as Latina…and it's nice to be in an environment where I don't have to explain why I'm not drinking margaritas on Cinco de Mayo!!! It's also inspiring to have this group of strong, talented women who embrace their heritage.

In a related vein, Teatro Luna has plumbed the Latina experience and pushed the envelope on issues of identity, gender and relationship. Talk about TL's significance as a child of traditional teatro, of post-movimiento social commentary.

Egads…that question feels like an essay test I haven't studied for!!!! I think Coya and Tanya will be able to give you a better answer than what I can give…pass!

You work in a variety of disciplines---playwriting, poetry, performance--
Talk about the differences in each. Is there a genre you feel is your "favorite?"

I don't work too much in poetry, except what I write in my journals that will never been shown to ANYONE 'cause it's really bad poetry! But here we go with the other two. My favorite has to be playwriting because I think I have a God complex. Seriously, it's intoxicating to create this whole world and populate them with these people that use YOUR WORDS to express themselves…then if you're lucky you get a chance to see it LIVE!! How cool is that? Also, though…there is that moment of CONNECTION. When you make a bulls-eye with the hearts of your audience members. There is nothing as gratifying as when someone comes up to me after a show and tells me, you were writing about me. I wrote a piece in "The Maria Chronicles" about visiting my brother in prison, and after shows I had several people tell me about their experiences with family members in prison. One lady told me that after my piece she reconciled with her brother and visited him for the first time in years. That really touched me. It might sound trite, but it's true…writing plays for me is like reaching out and saying "I'm not alone, you are not alone…for this moment we will be taking this journey together". I write because sometimes these feelings I have are so intense it becomes necessary to overflow them onto paper. I chose to share my journey, though, instead of locking it up in a diary (well, except my poems. Those don't need to be shared!).

So where does performance fit in? To me, performance is another level of connection with the audience. It's very cathartic, and it's wonderful because you get instant gratification…laughter during a one-liner delivered just right, silence during a dramatic moment…applause. Oh, the applause! Performing is such a high, because you are on this tightrope wire where any sudden change (even something like the theater being too hot or the seats too uncomfortable) will distract your audience…you have to EARN their attention…but once you've earned it what a RUSH.

Talk a little about Proyecto Latina. What do you hope it provides for community writers and book lovers?

I've enjoyed participating in Proyecto Latina in the past…unfortunately I've been absent from the monthly events for a while. However, I think it's such a wonderful opportunity for new artists…and I LOVE that there is a set limit of people that can perform, that it's a 5 minute time limit and that there is a featured performer. That is key…to be able to enjoy these "tastes" of performance without being overwhelmed by a 4 hour open mike. I know being able to hear various artists has inspired my own writing. I'm hoping I can start attending again…I've missed it!

What are you sources of inspiration? What's the role of female friendship in your daily life and as a writer?

My family is a HUGE source of inspiration for me—we have this carefully honed sense of humor that I use in my writing. They are very supportive of me—I talk a lot about them in my pieces and I haven't been disowned. Yet. I love comedy, so of course I'm all over female writers like Tina Fey—even watching the old episodes of The Carol Burnett Show gives me inspiration as a writer. Currently I'm working on a two-woman show, and we are using "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" as inspiration…Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin collaborated on this piece, and it's amazing.

Where would you like to be creatively and professionally in ten years?

Creatively, I'd like to still be writing and getting my work produced…if I can perform occasionally that would be a bonus. It's hard because I do have a family now, and I'm the primary breadwinner…so not only do I have to balance work with family, I have to find time to write and stay involved in projects as well. The good thing is that my husband is VERY supportive—in fact, he's the one that keeps pushing me to take on these projects and he's great about covering the night shifts at home, taking care of our daughter and the house. So it's just a matter of figuring out what the next step is…the point is, I can't figure out next year, much less TEN years from now!!

Tell us something not in the official bio.

I am a HUGE fan of science fiction—my favorite authors include Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, HP Lovecraft, Charles Beaumont…and I LOVE TV shows like "The Twilight Zone", "Heroes", "Lost"…anything with a sci-fi edge to it! And yes, I was one of those geeks that stood in line for Star Wars tickets. Han Solo was my first crush.


Women and Creativity Conference/Lisa Alvarado Shameless Self-Promotion Department

Gente: I've been blessed enough to have been asked to perform The Housekeeper's Diary at the conference -- Friday, March 7, at 8 PM at the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts, as well as a reading for high school students at the Center's Wells Fargo Auditorium, Monday, March 10th at 10 AM.

Conference Info: Women and Creativity 2008 is organized and presented by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in partnership with more than 25 local arts organizations, artists, writers and independently owned-business. This year, we have an inspiring offering of more than 50 exhibitions, performances, workshops, classes, and engaging discussions in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Women and Creativity
partners invite you to dedicate an afternoon, evening or entire weekend in March to attend events and workshops that awaken and nourish your own creativity and support the creativity of our communities. Although we shine a special light on women’s creativity during this festival, we invite and encourage the participation of men at all events.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center, along with our partners in Women and Creativity 2008, believe that creativity, art and self-expression are central to sustaining healthy individuals, organizations, business and communities – so, join in and celebrate the creative women in your community and the creativity inside yourself.

There will also be a fabulous PEÑA FEMENINA Sunday, March 9th at NHCC's LA FONDA DEL BOSQUE;

Other Artists:
Alma Jarocha,
Leticia Cuevas, Anabel Marín,
Otilio Ruiz, Victor Padilla

Jessica López

Bailaora Xicana, Flamenco
marisol encinias, vicente griego, ricardo anglada

Lenore Armijo


National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th St, SW Albuquerque, New Mexico

More Conference News from Demetria Martinez

On Saturday, March 8 at 3 p.m. the first-ever Spanish-language anthology of work by women who reside in New Mexico will be unveiled at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Titled Metamorfosis, the book was co-founded by Demetria Martinez, Rosalee Montoya-Reed and Maria Nieves de Abajo Bajo. Please join us to celebrate International Women's Day, poetry, the Spanish language and creativity. A reception will follow. Please RSVP at 724-4777.

And Lastly, news from La Divina, Johanny Vasquez

Hola to Everyone:

I will be participating at the Nuestras Voces: Women's Poetry Night at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this Thursday, March 6, 2008. The event will take place at from Caffe Paradiso7:00 to 9:00 pm. This will be my first time at U of I, so I'm extremely excited.

If you live in the area or know people that live in Urbana/Champaign, please come by or let them know.

For more information got to my blog at:

or to the University Site at:

Hasta la vista, Johanny

Lisa Alvarado

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