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Lágrimas Negras: Tribulaciones de una negrita acomplejá

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Eva Cristina Vasquez
June 4, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/actor.

What is your show about?
The show is a one woman show drama/comedy exploring our African identity in the Spanish speaking Caribbean as seen by an interracial young woman who is a key character in the Mexican movie Angelitos Negros.

What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
When I'm not working on a play I am a Professor of Spanish at York College, CUNY. Working as a teacher keeps me on my toes, allows me to meet new people all the time, and enriches my desire to create new theatrical material. Students are, and should be, a demanding audience. I truly enjoy observing the human spirit through the teaching of language and culture. Above all, I learn a lot from my students. I owe them a lot.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I truly enjoy the creative process, e.g. researching, writing/re-writing, rehearsing, training, I like the idea of experimenting and experiencing the human condition in all its greatness as well as its limitations. I prefer the theater because there is nothing as challenging as offering myself equally strong and vulnerable to both my on stage colleagues and the audience. I love feeling the presence, warmth, smell, reactions of a live audience. I cherish the opportunity to recreate something artistic from a place of vulnerability that only a live show offers.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
As a Puerto Rican woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, I wanted to write about my own experiences with racism. In Puerto Rico, race is not openly discussed, we want to think that we are not racists, but our actions and attitudes betray us. I have had similar experiences in both Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Upon moving to New York, I found that this is somewhat, but not totally different here. Nevertheless, race, ethnicity and identity are widely and openly discussed in our everyday lives. Many of my students come from Caribbean islands/countries including: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, Venezuela, etc. Race, skin color, hair texture, identity, self love/loath, among other issues are subjects often discussed in my classroom as well as in my personal life. The New York experience allowed me to discuss these subjects from a creative, funny, dramatic, personal perspective, although the show is not directly about me.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Bugs Bunny on steroids. :-)

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity is everything to me. If you, like me, are in your forties, you have witnessed the world become more diverse by the second. That is probably my favorite thing about New York; it is an interesting, vibrant, and dynamic version of the whole picture. I love to see that reflected in a diverse theatrical offering.