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Encuentro 2014: One fellowship to rule them all

Encuentro 2014: One fellowship to rule them all

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. Sylvia Blush was one such fellow.

When I first heard about the Mellon Artistic Leaders Fellowship, I couldn’t help but think of a famous line from Lord of the Rings, ‘one ring to rule them all’. The comparison was not far off: this experience is EPIC!

I witnessed the Los Angeles Theatre Center successfully auction a glass of water for $2,000 at their 8th Annual Gala; I met Edward James Olmos (the granddaddy of everything Latino), Elisa Quintana (discovered Kepler), Sonia Nazario (Pulitzer Prize Author) and Magdalena Gomez (self-proclaimed sin vergüenza...look it up); I’ve watched eleven plays, met over 100 theatre artists from across the country, participated in new work devising sessions with ten incredible giving artists, including Rosalba Rolón (look her up); got a private tour of Placita Olvera, which included the history of painter David Alfaro Siquieros’ América Tropical; danced long and hard more times than my muscles care to count; took a panoramic view of Los Angeles from atop the 26th floor of City Hall after the council proclaimed October as Encuentro 2014 month! Can someone tell me if any of this is the norm? Better yet, don’t.

The work hours have been long, the tasks are never-ending and sometimes you have to put out a few fires. Yet, I’d do it again in a heartbeat because art is happening here. Families are bonding here. Life lessons are happening here in theatre with multi-generational Latino theatre artists. Even if it is the norm, I will need my own trilogy to encapsulate all the lessons I have learned and yet to learn.