My one-woman play will be shown nationally as part of Re-Encuentro, a theater festival sponsored by The Latino Theater Company of the LA Theater Center. You can watch a recently filmed version of my play, on-demand, in the comfort of your own home. To make sure you get the registration link, please provide me your name and email address in the Contact Irma! Form on the home page of my website, irmaherrera.com, as I’ll include this information as soon as available in upcoming newsletters.
I last performed before a live audience the weekend of March 6-8, 2020, in Brian Copeland’s Best of SF Solo Series in San Leandro, CA right before COVID shelter-in-place orders. Although most shows that weekend were on the cusp of selling out, even ticketed folks were forgoing activities where large groups of people gathered. Still, it was a great weekend. That was 21 months ago, the separation of immigrant children from their parents was still in the news, the Walmart Massacre in El Paso, a very recent and painful wound to the Latino community. Back then COVID was not yet dominating our lives, George Floyd had not yet been murdered by a callous police officer, the COVID virus had not yet been racialized by top government officials leading to a spike in Asian hate crimes. All this and more are incorporated into this updated version of my show.
Live theater is gradually re-opening, from Broadway to local venues, and I am so excited and grateful. I love sitting in a theater, especially those intimate black box spaces. Gradually the lights dim, and darkness surrounds us. There, I am transported and can experience situations that are totally new. It is equally exciting to see myself and my community in familiar struggles and joys as their lives unfold on stage. And as much as I love being in the audience, it is a wonderful experience to bring those stories to you. The laughter, sighs, uncomfortable chuckles, shuffling in the seats, and the absolute silences are immediate feedback of audience reactions.
As we develop our stories we do so quietly, alone. If we are lucky, we share our work with a small group of trusted friends, and get their reactions, we shape and reshape. We workshop our material in larger groups, in classes, in someone’s living room, and eventually, we put the play on its feet for the broader public, but we really don’t know what we’ve got until we perform our work before an audience.
During the pandemic, there has been strong demand for my play and I have been presenting on Zoom. An extra-long curtain rod with a burgundy velvet curtain along the wall, extra lighting, a Panasonic camera, and a microphone connected to my iMac, transform mi oficina into a virtual teatro.
I’ve presented a Zoom adapted version of my play, and short excerpts, for schools, colleges, law firms, organizations, a conference of law professors, and even as a part of a fundraising event. Audiences have varied - from a dozen folks to hundreds. It is exciting to know people are watching from Texas to Michigan, New York to California. Post-performance, we invite audience members to share their thoughts around specific questions:
And we have found that audiences are receptive and engaged and often the conversations continue 30-45 minutes beyond the scheduled program time. Here’s a comment shared by a member of a law firm that used Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? as part of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program.
“Irma’s one-woman performance is an engaging way to learn about racial and gender discrimination. Her performance is thought-provoking, enlightening, and, at times, quite funny. Participants overwhelmingly appreciated Irma presenting these topics in this unique way. Equally valuable were the breakout groups following Irma’s performance . . . For some, it was the first-time participants felt comfortable having these types of conversations and many felt like they gained a greater awareness of their colleagues’ work and life experiences.”
During the next several weeks, I will share more of the backstory of developing this work, originally titled, Tell Me Your Name, and how the play is always evolving. So, if you aren’t already subscribed to my newsletter, please get on board by visiting my website, irmaherrera.com, and providing your name and email address on the Contact Irma! Form. Or you can email me at email@example.com and ask me to add you to my distribution list.
I’m so excited that no matter where you live, you can see my show. You don’t have to get yourself to the San Francisco Bay Area. Although a trip to San Francisco is always such a treat. The theater festival is on for just 10 days, and watching the play is gratis. After that 10 day period . . . poof . . . like magic, the show will no longer be available for streaming. As more theaters open up, I hope to start performing live again, maybe I’ll be invited to perform in your city.
Thanks so much for reading my blog.