Encuentro 2014: Reflecting upon a month of Latina/o theatre
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 19 plays in a month. Alexandra Meda, the executive producing director for Teatro Luna, is one such artist.
She said: “So What Are We Going To Do To Infiltrate The American Theatre,” and suddenly a potent and energy filled quiet fell over the 90+ artists that sat around in a circle around Evelina Fernandez. Questions of this magnitude have filled our heads for 30 days relentlessly.
I couldn’t help but want to stand up and shout. I wanted to say we are doing exactly the thing that will empower people all over the country to pick up the baton from the two generations that have been fighting for an expanded notion of who the American Theatre belongs to, the expansion of stories reflected, and a desire to keep the fire for equity and social justice lit in the hearts of artists everywhere.
This Encuentro has been life-changing. Presenting our productions has been in fact, the smallest (but hugely valuable) aspect of this endeavor. As artists, we have been tasked to present our work, view each other’s work, and make new work with artists we have never worked with before. This is how we are expected to encounter both audience, artists, and ourselves. And so yes, Evelina’s question has been sitting with me all month. What is my role in moving our Latina/o Theatre movement forward? Am I working towards a polycultural norm in the American Theatre? What will I inherit and take forward from the generations that came before me and what will I change and leave behind for those that come after?
All I know is that this festival is a symbol, a catalyst-- not an end-game. I encourage you to come and participate in this incredible moment in history that will launch many more moments of inspiration and hopefully social change.