It felt like a dream. My performance at Stevenson College sponsored by Rainbow Theater at UCSC was such a long anticipated event for me, that seeing it manifest was almost unreal. The stage at Stevenson College was the first stage I saw young people of color express themselves through theater. It was the first stage I set foot on as an undergraduate, young woman and Rainbow Theater member in the year 2000. The creative experiences I shared with my peers exploring our identity and questioning the world we lived in as young people of color helped me grow personally, politically and spiritually, and created the foundation for the work I do today. Being on that stage on February 10th, was like dancing on past, present and future in the presence of a loving and supportive audience that I will never forget.
I took a break from blogging during the weeks that I prepared for this wonderful day because I could not focus on anything else. During my preparation, I was carefully looking at every word I had written on my script, making sure all cues were where they needed to be and being mindful of all notes that my directors gave me. While working on the artistic goals of the piece I was also organizing the logistics of schedules, rehearsal spaces, funds and production details in NYC. My focus became razor sharp as it tends to do when I’m working on a project, especially one as close to my heart as this.
I had actually written another version of the play for this new year because I felt that there were parts of the story I had not yet clarified in the piece and I wanted to continue exploring and expanding in both my personal and political approaches. During the winter break, I conducted more interviews in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua to find out how border enforcement and violence continue to affect family and community members. My director and I experimented with new scenarios and artistic tools to challenge ourselves to go deeper into these issues. We did a lot of work and at last gave birth to a new draft.
I rehearsed tirelessly, imagining the day, the school and the stage until I finally found myself standing in front of an overwhelmingly supportive audience that only UCSC can offer. Hearing Don Williams, my mentor for over ten years, introduce the play took me back to all the times he gave us motivating talks that pushed us to pour our hearts out on stage. Because Don Williams and the Rainbow Theater family have such a strong presence at UCSC, when I came out from backstage to perform, I found a full house of folks ready to get down with my story. I was humbled by the presence of current members of Rainbow Theater and UCSC students as well as by friends that had come all the way from the Bay Area and Los Angeles to show their support. It was amazing!
With strong and rapid heartbeats, I performed the play dedicated to my home of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua for my extended family in California. I gave my heart, laid it on stage and let all that needed to happen, happen, and in that moment I was embraced by a new beginning. I realized that I had not arrived at any destination at all but at a starting point where there is a lot more work to be done. As the saying goes, we learn by doing and UCSC gave me the great opportunity to meet myself where I was. “We did it!” I felt as the audience applauded with overwhelming love.
After the performance we settled into a post-show discussion and the audience asked amazing questions related to the developmental process of the play. “What inspired me to create this play? What does my family have to say about my work and pursuing of theater? What are the challenges in writing and performing the characters of the play? How did I become a part of Rainbow Theater and how has this lead me to do what I do now?” It was a blessing to have this discussion, remembering that ten years ago, I was sitting in that audience, thirsty, hungry and passionate for the universe to show me my path. As I am walking my path through One Journey, my greatest desire for this performance was to give back the inspiration, ideas and motivation that Rainbow and UCSC gave me. If my performance and responses have inspired people to brainstorm, imagine and begin writing their own stories, I am extremely excited to witness their work manifest.
Having the support of my foundation at UCSC, I have nowhere left to go but forward. I will continue to grow and develop One Journey and future work to come always remembering my purpose, which is to represent who I am and where I am from with utmost respect, integrity and dignity. Through my work I hope to continue celebrating the culture and lives of women of color and communities that are marginalized in the U.S. and internationally. There are many stories to be told and a lot of collective healing to be done.
Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart: Don Williams, Katie Ventura, Nancy Ventura, Rainbow Theater leadership and tech staff as well as all the folks that attended and supported the performance. I also want to thank Rosalee Cabrera for a wonderful reception at the Chicano/Latino Resource Center that provided the opportunity to speak with students in an intimate setting that I was greatly inspired by and will always hold dear. I send my warmest regards to Sayo Fujioka, SOAR, Nancy Kim and the Ethnic Resource Centers. Thank you for supporting generations of young people with your nurturing guidance. You are loved!
To all Rainbow family and students that I had the pleasure of speaking with, I just want to remind you that I am here, happy to support your vision and endeavors in any way that I can! Please keep in touch!