A Latina perspective: My encounters with Encuentro 2014
Encuentro 2014, a Latina/o theatre festival held at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, brought together 19 theatre companies and more than 150 theatre artists to perform 17 plays in a month. In addition, The Los Angeles Theatre Center partnered with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide fellowships for emerging arts leaders to take part in Encuentro 2014. Adriana Gaviria was one such fellow.
Today, I celebrate my grandmother’s birthday and remember her by placing a photograph of her on the beautiful Día de los Muertos altar inside the Los Angeles Theatre Center lobby created by one of the artists of Encuentro 2014.
This is just one of the many special moments I have experienced during the festival. Nineteen theatre companies and over 150 artists have converged at the Los Angeles Theatre Center to share their work and collaborate with each other. From the late-night lounges to the free panel discussions between shows, and from the post-show discussions to the shows themselves, each experience has left me invigorated. Even at this very moment, I am sitting in awe watching the many talented artists perform during open-mic at one of our late-night lounges. There has been no shortage of inspiration and creativity pulsing through the different spaces of this building throughout the last three weeks. The national theatre festival is now entering its final week, and I am already feeling nostalgic.
Not only have I been viscerally moved by the plays themselves and by the way the different companies incorporate different elements in telling their stories but also by the conversations that I have had with the theatre patrons, members of the community and other artists. Being challenged on a daily basis with my LATC Mellon Fellow duties and being a part of such a historic event has been such a unique opportunity that I find myself trying to soak in as much as I can. This creative space...this community that has been created during this festival, is something that I will miss.
Last week, at hearing the news of the loss of one of the company’s musicians back home, we gathered together in one of the theatres and formed a circle, holding hands with one another. We stood in silence, and after a few minutes, we sang a song celebrating the life that was lost, some of us having met each other only a week ago. But in that moment, as I looked around the room, we were there not only as collaborating artists but also as family, sharing the grief and supporting each other.
And for me, that’s what this festival is about and what I will take away with me. It’s about community and connecting with each other on a human level.
Adriana Gaviria, LATC Mellon Foundation Artistic Leader Fellow, is an actress of theatre, television and film with an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. She hopes to somehow blend both her artistic and business minds into a creative money-making slurpee. And most importantly, she had her first gordita ever at the Grand Central Market.