Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?
That’s me, and my director Rebecca Fisher, in front of The Marsh Theater before our tech rehearsal Monday morning. It’s Showtime! My one-woman show starts on Thursday, October 25th, with several preview performances: Thursdays at 8 pm and Saturdays at 5 pm. Formal opening night is Saturday, November 3rd. It’s exciting to see my posters up in San Francisco. Hope to see lots of Bay Area folks at my seven-week run. Tickets start at $20, $5 discount for students with code: scholar, for the Oct. 25 and 27 shows at The Marsh's website.
The show is just slightly over an hour (no intermission) and I will have post-show guests for 20-30 minute conversations following each performance. The current plan is to videotape the talkbacks and post them on my website, stay tuned for more information. For a complete listing of my talkback guests, click here.
Thursday, October 25th Talkback Guest, Rinku Sen, on The Role of Art in Social Justice, 8 pm show
Rinku Sen is a writer and a political strategist. She is currently Senior Strategist at Race Forward, having formerly served as Executive Director and as Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines.
Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice.
Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems.
She is also a James O. Gibson Innovation Fellow at PolicyLink. Rinku Sen writes and curates the news at her website, rinkusen.com.
Saturday, October 27th Talkback Guest, Praveen Shanbhag, on How Technology Can Help Us Learn Difficult Names, 5 pm show
As the founder and CEO of NameCoach, Praveen Shanbhag works with a talented team dedicated to bringing software solutions to the problem of name mispronunciation and misgendering. Prior to this work, he completed a BA from Harvard, a PhD from Stanford, and taught Philosophy at both Stanford and Foothill College - where he all too often struggled to correctly pronounce the names of their diverse students.
Learn more about NameCoach here.
The past ten days have been a whirlwind of activity.
I performed two shows on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Black Box Theater. Many thanks to all the folks who came to Las Cruces from El Paso, Santa Fe, and Roswell to see my shows. Appreciative of local friends, Eliza Sanchez and Denise Chavez (Casa Camino Real Bookstore), who helped spread the word about my performances. Special thanks to my talkback speakers: Johana Bencomo, Nia Rucker, and Christine Sierra, who shared important information on various social justice subjects, including immigration and elections. And finally tip of the hat to Ceil and Peter Herman at The Black Box Theater.
Always love the questions and feedback from audience members. Most memorable shares: Native American man who noted that he had not known that Mexican-American children were punished at school for speaking Spanish. He was well aware this was the experience of American Indian children, but had not known it happened to other communities. Another audience member, a professor whose grandmother was Japanese said, I know about the internment of the Japanese during WWII, but only recently learned that US citizens of Mexican-American ancestry had been deported to Mexico. Click here to read about these deportations in the 1930s.
Why were we never taught this at school?
Folks feel bad – either guilty or angry – about all that we don’t know. We can’t know what is outside the world of our experiences if we aren’t provided this information as part of our education. This is why ethnic studies departments at universities are so important. It is a place where we can learn our histories and that of other groups, and where we nurture scholars who research and write about our communities. Knowing our own history and that of each other leads to greater respect, appreciation and solidarity for our shared experiences as residents and citizens of this great big and sometimes unwieldy nation. So important that we vote and that our voices are heard at all levels, from School Board, to Superintendent of Instruction at the state level.
While in the Las Cruces/El Paso area, I was able to see a play at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Bless Me Ultima (Rudolfo Anaya’s book adapted for the theater) was beautifully produced with magical sets and lots of great acting. Loved seeing a theater full of brown folks, of all ages.
I also managed to get in two great hikes in the local mountains. Ate plenty of green and red chile; and only regret I didn’t bring any back with me. There are few smells as wonderful as roasting chiles. I look forward to returning to this beautiful part of the great Southwest, am hoping to have the opportunity to perform at New Mexico State sometime next year.
Times Unseen Initiative
This past weekend I performed two shows in San Francisco as part of the Times Unseen Initiative Festival: fifteen performers telling stories about the intersection of the personal and political. My piece, I Want To Sell Democracy, was based on almost two years of interviews with a Stacey Barrera, a social studies high school teacher in Corpus Christi, Texas, whose mother, Diana Barrera had served as County Clerk of Nueces County. After working there her entire life, and then holding the top office, Barrera was challenged and unseated by 534 votes by a conservative white woman, supported by the Republican Party powers that be. Diana Barrera is seeking to return to the post of County Clerk in the upcoming election.
It has been a true honor to get to know Stacey and to learn about her life as a high school teacher. She is committed to educating the upcoming electorate to appreciate the value of our democracy and the value of voting. So thrilled to be part of this forward thinking theater project, and I was much touched and informed by the stories told by fellow performers. Special thanks to David Ford, Rebecca Fisher, Stephanie Weisman and The Marsh Theater for bringing this project into world.
Please vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. Su voto es su voz.