One Journey 2013 leads me to 2014!
Stepping into my third year of working on my one-woman play originally entitled One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican “American” Border, I felt that 2013 had to be my “all or nothing” year with this project. For three years I had worked on developing One Journey, consulting with my peers and mentors on rewrites, edits and most especially on what I wanted to say with this work. Throughout these years, I was fortunate to have opportunities to perform One Journey in community centers, colleges and universities, which made it possible for me to gauge my progress through audience feedback.
While One Journey was my vehicle to explore and discuss U.S./Mexico border identity in the context of today's unresolved Immigration Reform efforts, anti-immigrant sentiment and border enforcement, I had never performed it in my own community of El Paso, TX/Ciudad Juarez, CH or any other borderland for that matter. Also, the process was beginning to feel frustrating mostly because I was creating vague aesthetic goals for this piece. I was getting stuck in a mental spiral of questioning One Journey and it was leading me nowhere. I had a few people advise me not to focus on just one project. I agreed on the logic behind their advice BUT I just couldn't let it go of this project without exploring its full potential. One of my collaborators once hinted at the idea of doing a U.S./Mexico border tour with One Journey. The challenge and potential of this idea never left my mind, and so at the beginning of 2013, I finally made the commitment to do it. Here are some of the year's highlights of this vision becoming a reality. I hope it may serve as an example for others who are interested in organizing a solo performance tour with their respective goals, interests and talents. Cheers!
January – Vision Building
This was my grant writing and university outreach month, when I contacted and followed up with colleges and universities that were interested in bringing One Journey to their campuses. These performances would help me continue developing the script and performance in preparation for the One Journey U.S./Mexico Border road tour in the fall. Although I was not awarded the grants I applied for, the application writing process helped me flush out of details of what the U.S./Mexico border tour entailed both financially and logistically.
February – Training
I was accepted into an actor training collective at Intar Theater called Unit 52, where I had the opportunity of meeting and working with 11 other actors. Becoming a part of this group meant committing to 6 months of studying and training in movement, acting, play analysis and auditioning for theater, which lead to a final performance in June. I also took classes at other acting studios such as Michael Howard Studios. Committing to these classes created a positive routine and network of support for me in NYC.
March – One Journey Performances
I received an invitation to perform at the University of Colorado, Boulder as one of the featured speakers for Semana De La Xicana. Since I was working on One Journey rewrites at the time, I brought my poems instead and I had one of the most liberating times of my life engaging with the audience through spoken word and conversation. I got great responses, which inspired a name/alter ego for this set called “Terca (stubborn) for Justice”. I'm looking forward to developing the concept and incorporating music in it somehow, because I'm just terca like that!
April – Updating One Journey
I had the pleasure of working with my long time talented friend, actor and director, Eric Aviles for my 2013 One Journey performances. I asked him to direct One Journey, knowing he could anchor the creative process of writing and acting by holding me accountable to the honest story I, and every character I portrayed, was trying to tell. My greatest challenge that month was suffering a severe ankle injury two weeks before a performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but all in all, we stayed focused and committed as friends and artists to give the best possible performance we could. The students liked it so much that they invited me to perform One Journey again in the fall!
I also had the opportunity to work with educators/artists Monica Amaro and Genevieve Debose again to organize the 3nd Annual Celebrate Cesar Chavez NYC event. The event brought organizers and youth together from all 5 boroughs to La Casa Azul Bookstore to discuss the importance of our collective history, education and leadership in the United States.
May – Outreach for One Journey U.S./Mexico Border Tour
It took faith and courage for me to contact theaters, community centers and organizers along the U.S./Mexico border to tell them about my One Journey tour. Most of the people I contacted had never heard of me or this project, but surprisingly they trusted me and became interested in bringing the performance to their communities. Receiving positive responses about the tour was my greatest motivation to make it happen. None of this would have been possible without the organizers, supporters, artists and peers that said yes to supporting and hosting my performance.
June – NYC Performances and Collaborations
I'm grateful to have participated in Unit 52's “Patience, Fortitude and other Anti-Depressants” with Daniel Jaquez and Mariana Carreño King at Intar Theater; “Immersion” with Julián Mesri at New York Theater Workshop; and “Together/Far Apart” with Monica L. Williams at the Culture Project. It was an honor to learn from and work with all of the immensely talented and dedicated artist involved in these projects.
July – Outreach and Preparation for the One Journey
This was the month when tour dates took shape. Several organizers I had outreached to were getting back to me with October and November dates. These dates anchored what the rest of the tour schedule would look like.
August – Gathering a Team of Collaborators
From social media planning, fundraising and documenting the tour, each of these was a project in itself that required the expertise of invaluable friends and professionals who were generous and believed in the project enough to support me. I will always be grateful to Jazmin Chavez, Rolando Brown and Tonalli Rodriguez for helping me make these ideas a reality! At the end of the month, I launched the One Journey U.S./Mexico Border Tour Indiegogo Campaign, updated my social media sites and organized the documentation of the tour. Once I made the project public to any/all folks to see, there was no turning back!
September – Fundraising!
As my friend Rolando Brown wisely and strategically said, “Fundraising is a full time job. Don't think you can take a day off.” Every day, it was waking up to spread the word through all means of communication. I was elated when I first received people's donations, which kept me motivated and grateful the whole way through. Again, I couldn't have done this without the encouragement of my dear friend and social media consultant, Jazmin Chavez! While fundraising, I also finalized event details in every city where I booked a performance. My first border performance was on September 17th in Laredo, Texas!
October – We were on the road!
On October 2nd, I hit the road with my step dad to Austin. We were received by two of the most beautiful and loving mentors I have ever met, JoAnn and Rupert Reyes of Teatro Vivo. They blessed me with the opportunity to perform One Journey at the lovely Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. My shows in Austin concluded the Indiegogo campaign and sent me off to Brownsville, where I would begin my border road adventures from east to west. In one month, I covered the 2,000 miles of the U.S./Mexico border and performed in 14 different cities.
November – Finalized tour in Los Angeles, CA.
My final tour performances in Los Angeles were a fortunate opportunity to reconnect and share my work with friends, artists and organizers in this great city. I'm extremely grateful to have met with actors, playwrights, directors and producers at LATC, Casa 0101, East L.A. Rep, Company of Angels as well as independent visual artists, poets and musicians! L.A. is a wonderful place where I hope to perform One Journey again.
After three memorable weeks in CA, I had head back home without first performing an excerpt of One Journey for La Frontera Jota at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque alongside Yosimar Reyes and Julio Salgado! Sharing the stage with these extraordinary artists and building with the community at UNM's GLBTQ Resource Center ended the entire tour with a bang!
December – Rest and Perk Printing/Delivering
Once I arrived in El Paso, I didn't touch the car for about a week. I didn't realize the toll that driving and staying in multiple places was taking on me until I stopped. My mind and body shut down. All that was left to do to complete the project was edit, print and send all perks to all the awesome folks that supported me throughout the tour.
I'm excited to now be working on the One Journey Documentary with Tona Rodriguez. We have our work cut out for ourselves until the spring when we hope to release the film. In the process of editing the film, I will be submitting One Journey to festivals and theaters that are interested in producing this play.
I'm grateful to have been invited to perform for the 3rd Annual Poetic License Festival and performing on Sunday, Feb 9th at 8pm at the Wild Project. I'm excited to perform One Journey in New York for the first time since the U.S./Mexico border tour AND showing the trailer for the documentary on this great night! Please come through and spread the word!
I feel more confident in this work than ever before and I'll be putting out the intention for future collaborations for One Journey, which will only get better in 2014.