I was recently speaking with a friend about the need for more Latino plays in Austin they responded quite innocently, "But that wouldn't be good for you. They would be in competition with you." Okay, now there are three, maybe four groups that are doing "Latino" plays in Austin. Us, Proyecto Teatro, Teatro Humanidad, Leticia Rodriguez's, Performance Encounters and more recently Nebraska Ex, Felix Rivas. We do bilingual plays; Proyecto does plays only in Spanish, Teatro Humanidad is the sponsor of the Latino Comedy Project and children's plays, Performance has done some bilingual work, and Felix is just great at what he does. I think we could all use some "competition".
But let me talk about the way that I see competition. When Teatro Vivo was first created, I was immediately inundated with comments about how we were now in competition with another existing "teatro". My response was, "Why don't all the Mexican food restaurants join together so that we can have only one in town?" We like that a new place opens up so that we can discover a new taste. Maybe something closer to those enchiladas that Mom used to make. This is the way that I felt about having two theater companies in town or more. More choices are good thing.
As I see it, the only one I have to compete with is myself. No one who comes to our shows and then goes to another performance says, "Oh your show was better or worse than theirs". So I have to create works that are better or different from the previous one that we did so that my audiences will continue to come to our plays. I always feel like we are one misstep from starting all over.
I welcome new groups, new plays that try to create more works for Latino audiences AND everyone else involved. We need more groups doing Latino works so that all these wonderful Latino actors and actress can find work. I was extremely excited to see Austin Shakespeare take on Romeo and Juliet with a "bilingual" approach. I was invited to their rehearsals and overjoyed at all the actors on stage. Many of those actors have worked with us. They were continuing to do excellent work.
Not only do I encourage other groups to consider Latino plays, but have joined forces to do just that. Our history has collaborations with not just other Latino groups such as Austin Latino Theater Alliance, but with Different Stages in the Edit Villarreal play, "Marriage is Forever". We met with Austin Shakespeare to give input into R and J and encouraged Ann Ciccolella to take the risk. Zachary Scott's efforts in Jesus Cristo were also to be applauded. Salvage Vanguard works regularly with Caridad Svich. We want Latino's to go to the theater, even if its not one of our shows. We want to create theater going audiences and not just audiences for our shows. So if you venture into the world of Latino theater, let us know, we will happily to send word out on our email list.
Added note: Congratulations to the members of the Latino Comedy Project for their Emmy Nominations. Karinna Perez, a Teatro Vivo company member is among the nominees. Dale shine, Karinna.