Thank you so much for supporting me and my work. Taking "Mud Offerings" to MALCS was a wonderful experience, and just as good, if not better, than I expected and hoped! I'd like to take a moment to tell you all about it.
I performed twice at MALCS: I performed the entirety of "Mud Offerings" on Friday morning, during one of the regular conference sessions, and then read an excerpt from the piece during the open mic at the end of the all-conference "Noche de Cultura."
I was really nervous that I might not get a good turnout for the piece on Friday morning. It would have been such a disappointment to have come all that way, to have asked so many friends, family members, and colleagues to help me out, to have carried a statue of the Virgen on my back across the country (in a little backpack - I didn't care "check" her!), and then have nobody there to watch the play! I think it was really good that I arrived at the conference on Wednesday night, though, so that I had all day Thursday to "promote" the performance. At every panel, roundtable, and presentation I attended that day, I mentioned the play, highlighted why I thought it would be meaningful to that particular audience, and even got a chance to mention and publicly thank all of you for your role in bringing me to the conference.
And it all seemed to work! I was really lucky that I got to perform in a black-box theater space, much much more pleasant and more suited to the piece than a regular classroom would have been. I was also really happy that I got to perform with Dr. Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, one of three poets to represent the United States in India as one of the featured poets at the annual Kritya International Poetry Festival. What an honor! Between the two of us, we managed to pack that little theater to the brim!
It was really wonderful to get to perform the piece for exactly the audience most likely to connect with it - it warmed my heart to be in front of an audience that got all my jokes! I finally got some good footage of the entirety of the piece as well, thank goodness! In the Q&A section of our panel, I got lots of intelligent and interesting questions, which signaled to me that the audience was really intrigued by the piece. Lots of folks picked up a business card, signed up for my mailing list, and expressed their appreciation for the work; my favorite comment, from a super smart professor at Wellesley, "It was really fantastic!"
I got lots of great feedback after the shorter performance at the Noche de Cultura open mic as well, and was then able to connect with a professor and a grad student who expressed interest in bringing me out to their campus and/or teaching the piece in their classes, which is fantastic as that is exactly what I was hoping might happen.
Throughout the course of the conference, I was also able to make some amazing connections and re-connections with other theatre artists and activists. I met some members of the Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble at the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference a year ago, and it was wonderful to get to reconnect with them; they do amazing work in Orange County, California, and I really hope I'll get to be a part of it someday! It was also such a joy to get to see and hug my friends and colegas Rita Urquijo-Ruiz (profesora chingona who was part of the workshop where I first developed portions of "Mud Offerings" with Adelina Anthony!), Vicki Grise (chicana playwright and cultural worker extraordinaire - winner of multiple awards and all-around badass), Susana Ramirez (making it happen in academia at Texas Women's University and UT-San Antonio!), and Berenice Dimas (scholar, activist, healer, and soon-to-be filmmaker!).
A particularly special highlight for me was getting to speak with the members of Teatro Chicana. These mujeres were active in the very beginnings of the chicana feminist movement 40 years ago, and, without any formal training, began using teatro as a way to speak out against the injustices they saw not only out in the world but also in the chicano movement itself. I attended their panel at the NACCS (National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies) Tejas conference earlier this spring, and was really stunned by their stories about some of the violent and hateful reactions they received because of that work. There are still spaces out there where I would receive that kind of response to my play as well, but there are also lots of spaces now where the challenges I pose to our religious and cultural institutions are not only tolerated but even celebrated. It's very real to me that the only reason such spaces exist, and why I've been able to do so much of what I do, is because these mujeres, and others like them, were so brave and so strong, and because they never, ever gave up. I got to chat with las mujeres del Teatro Chicana about their theatre adventures while we were all waiting for the black box performance space to open up, and to thank them publicly for all their amazingly hard work after their performance, "Madres por Justicia." And can you believe it, that some of them came to see me perform!? That now they know who I am, little old me!? That they have my business card and everything!?!! What an amazing honor.
I feel confident that all this networking is really strengthening my capacity to continue of the legacy of Teatro Chicana, to make brave, smart, important work that asks uncomfortable but utterly necessary questions, and to really get the work out there in the world where it can reach people.
And of course, none of this would have happened without your support. I was very aware, throughout the conference, of the responsibility I bore, not just to myself this time, but especially to you, as a community of supporters, to really take advantage of this amazing opportunity, and make the most of it in every way I could. Thank you so much. I just can't thank you enough!
I can't wait to serenade you.