Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TCG Interview: Amparo Garcia-Crow on Latino Theatre, May, 2013

From Theatre Communications Group -- a post as part of the Diversity & Inclusion blog salon led by Online Curator Jacqueline E. Lawton for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas. Check out further Diversity and Inclusion interviews on Jacqueline’s blog.)
Theatre Communications Group Circle

Plays Are About Humans

JACQUELINE LAWTON: First, tell me about the work you do as a theatre artist or administrator.

AMPARO GARCIA-CROW: Amparo Garcia-Crow (via www.tcg.com)I am an inter-disciplinary artist who acts, directs, sings, writes plays, screenplays and songs; I am also a film artist currently working on a documentary film and supplement all of these delights by being a teaching artist at Austin Community College where I teach playwriting, intro to theatre and stage movement. A strong focus (and area of employment) for the last few years has been in storytelling and the development of solo work; I direct and coach a handful of performance artist/storytellers.

JL: How do you identify in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and heritage? How has this identity influenced the work that you do?

AGC:I am Mexican American with a Chinese Mexican great grandmother and I am also a Tejana. (original Texan of Mexican descent) As a writer my race, ethnicity, culture and heritage became “a burden of representation” at the beginning, meaning I was committed to giving expression to every nuance of being exactly the combination I embody; as I mature I no longer limit what I write to any one focus, I let the muse dictate what wants to be created; as a professional actor, I still struggle with the narrow opportunities available to what used to be termed in film and television as “the exotic”; thankfully the breakdowns are finally stating after the name of the character– “all ethnicities considered”, however, the reality is that they still do not cast outside the box kind of the way Latino plays might be read at new work stage reading events but rarely produced; the most freedom I experience is in directing (and dramaturgy) where I get to cross all boundaries, bringing to life what the piece requires with the added awareness I have that I wish to create realities that are not bound by race, in fact the more I can push the expectations in any of these areas, the better.

JL: How has this identity impacted your ability to work in the American Theatre? Have certain opportunities been made available to you owing to “who” you are? Have certain doors been closed to you?

AGC: When my play Under a Western Sky was produced Off-Broadway and received a stellar New York Times review, I was disappointed to receive letters from mainstream publishers (Broadway Play Publishing, Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service) to whom I submitted the play for publication–in essence they were saying similar things: “We think this is a provocative play but we do not think it will have a big enough audience” which was essentially saying, “we don’t think a play about a small Mexican American town in Texas where all but one of the characters is white” will sell. This was in the 1990s, don’t know that I would get that response now but it certainly was telling at the time that they had unquestioned beliefs about what an audience is willing to view if it involves characters outside the mainstream “ethnic” and racial demographics. I personally have never thought of plays that way–I’ve never said, “I don’t want to read or see Chekhov cause he writes about Russians.” It is assumed that plays are about humans and then we go from there.

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