After a 13-week run at San Francisco’s Marsh Theater, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? is going to Berkeley for eight-weeks starting Sunday, February 3, 2019, with a 2 pm matinee. YES, first show kicks off on Super Bowl Sunday.
I’ll be performing every Sunday in February and through March 24th. Beginning March 2nd, we are adding a second weekly show on Saturday evenings at 5 pm. This means there are 12 additional opportunities to see this production.
“Speaks volumes about the ingrained power structures
in American society.”
It has been gratifying to hear from audience members in post-show conversations, emails, and comments on social media.
“Put @irmadherrera's theater piece, "Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?" on your to-do list . . . Personal and deeply thought-provoking on issues of identity important for us to think about today.”
~Professor Marsha Cohen (twitter)
“[O]rchestrated our understanding of what's been happening to people who were here long before we honkies were and who cannot pronounce her or others’ names. It was brilliant! And Irma is so charming, and such an actress, that the whole performance was entrancing . . . Thanks so much; the Marsh never disappoints, and most often overwhelms!”
~Claire Risley (Goldstar)
Please note that the person who wrote this Goldstar mini-review chose the word “honkies." Perhaps this was in response to a scene where I share a litany of ethnic slurs I heard growing up. It is always interesting to hear audience reactions as I say these ugly words: sometimes people laugh (nervously, it seems) at the first two words, beaners, cucarachas, but by the end of the recitation, you can hear a pin drop.
Following presentation of my hour-long show (no intermission), I will have a half-hour on-stage conversation with leaders in the Bay Area's social justice community. Both my website and the Marsh will list the talkback speakers for upcoming shows. The talkbacks in San Francisco were both informative and inspiring. SF audiences loved them, as did I.
To Recap: February 3-March 24, 2019
Every Sunday 2 pm matinee during the eight week run, and Saturdays at 5 pm, from March 2nd - March 23, 2019.
Berkeley Marsh Theater (pictured below)
2120 Allston Way (one block from Downtown Berkeley BART station)
Tickets, starting at $20, https://themarsh.org/irma_herrera/irma-herrera-berkeley/
For decades, people of color (POC) have been protesting the absence of our stories on stage, and on the screen, big and small. Before and after every major awards ceremony: Tonys, Golden Globes, Oscars, Academy Awards, hastags abound: #tonyssowhite, #oscarssowhite . . . We are making inroads, but oh so slowly.
POC need to be everywhere in order for our stories to see the light of day. We don't just need to write them, we've got to be in all other spaces: producing, acting, directing, financing, and reviewing this work.
Made my heart sing to learn there are Latinx reviewers, like David John Chavez, at Bay Area Plays, whose professional work is to see and review plays. Ajúa. Check out what he has to say at:
“The shortest distance between two people is a story.”
This is one of my favorite quotes and when I came upon it there was no attribution, so I set about to find the person I should credit. Thanks to google, I learned of Patti Digh and her work. Her website, https://www.pattidigh.com, describes her as an “author. speaker. educator. philosopher. social justice advocate. community-builder. And posted prominently in her website is: “How do you Pronounce Digh, Anyway? It sounds just like the word “dye.” Or like “sigh,” with a D.” Everybody has a name story, whether it's how we say it, how we got it, or what it means to us and to the people who named us.
Props to all the folks around the country who toil tirelessly to promote fairness and justice, and who dedicate themselves to creating a society where we treat all individuals with respect. We've got much ground to travel to achieve equality, but we never give up.
"If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face
will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom,
abused and scorned tho' we may be,
our destiny is tied up with America's destiny."
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Everyday, we make a difference by bearing witness and taking a stand when we see injustices. And today as we celebrate the life of Dr. King, it's important to reflect on what more each of us can do.
Telling our stories matters: we are hard-wired to connect with each other through stories. It's how we make sense of our lives and of what happens in the world around us.
Following one show, a middle-aged white man came right up to me and said, "you and I probably don't agree on anything politically."
Okay. I wondered what was coming next.
"But, I'm leaving with lots of things to think about, so thank you for that."
I thanked him also and said, "my hope is that people who are here, watch and listen with an open mind and an open heart. That's it."
If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t yet seen Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? please come on down to The Marsh Theater in Berkeley. And if you can’t come to the Bay Area, get on my mailing list so I can let you know if my play is coming to your community.
One last comment that really touched me.
“Everyone please go see this show! Why Would I Mispronounce My Name? is a magnificent piece of art! You hear people say "Art is Resistance". . . well this definitely fits that bill! You are taken on a journey with Irma from childhood, adolescence to adulthood. Her experiences navigating through sexism and racism pull you in because they are so relatable. Your memory is provoked regarding your own personal story about power dynamics and how they relate to your name, identity, culture, gender, ethnicity, immigration status and/or profession. I kept nodding my head at each scene because Irma was bringing truth to power. I felt seen and heard! This play really spoke to me deeply . . . The best part was seeing it with mi gente! Nothing better than getting together with beautiful folks!
~Vicky Castro (Facebook)
If you have a story about names, I’d love to hear it. You can reach me either through my website, irmaherrera.com or by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me on twitter or Instagram @irmadherrera (please note the initial “d” between my first and last names).
Muchismas gracias to all of you who have supported me as I took a leap of faith and transitioned from lawyer to playwright and performer.