Episode 36: The Sisterhood of Teatro Luna, Part 1

Guests: Christina Igaraividez, Alexandra Meda, and Liza Ann Acosta

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When speaking about the series of original short stories from Latinas across the states, entitled Talking While Female and Other Dangerous Acts, co-producer of the Audible original book, Alexandra Meda, says: “They are all little jewels, little lessons on how to live bravely, how to get up after a failure, how to love yourself more, and how to spread the love with others.” Her words describe the book perfectly, and also capture the essence of Teatro Luna — the group that put out the book.

Teatro Luna is an ensemble of Latina/x femmes and Women of Color. It is a radical experiment and new model in the US American Theatre; an attempt to answer the needs heard in cities all around the USA for liberated, intentional, brave spaces dedicated to artistic and physical exploration. They dreamed of centers for creativity that were free of the fear of failure, and equitably engineered for the organic development of Latinx and Womxn of Color artists, leaders, thinkers, and makers who value social justice and equity as an urgent need. These ensembles work together to create social change at home and around the world.

I spoke with three of these radical culture makers and got a glimpse into Teatro Luna’s history, evolution, values, and sisterhood. I spoke with Christina Igaraividez, Alexandra Meda, and Liza Ann Acosta on the 18th of June, 2020. Here’s our conversation.

GUESTS

As a stage director, culture-producer, disrupter for social justice, and a digital media creator, Alexandra Meda generates original works through collective/ensemble practice that is engaged both in person and virtually with artists and changemakers across the globe. As a devised theatre maker she nurtures female-driven spaces that center Women Of Color in rich collaborations between the community, performers, scholars, designers, thinkers, and artists. She aims to positively shift how we interact with, look at, and value the femme body. She is the Artistic Director for Teatro Luna + Teatro Luna West, a national Latinx/WOC collective that tours internationally with ensembles founded in 2000 (Chicago) and 2014 (LA). In 2018 she opened Studio Luna, a performance and EDI workshop laboratory for new work, community gathering, and thought in Boyle Heights. Spring 2019 she directed and co-produced an Audible Original called TALKING WHILE FEMALE & OTHER DANGEROUS ACTS, featuring 25 short solo plays with original music. Currently, she is finishing development on THE TIMES, the third play in Teatro Luna’s trilogy on themes of violence against Women which was supposed to go on tour in 2020 through the support of a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. The trilogy launched with GENERATION SEX (WP at the LATC  2015), LOVESICK (2017 Workshop at Victory Gardens). 

She contributes to the National Cultural Navigations Project, is a steering committee member of The Jubilee and the Latinx Theatre Commons, is a 2020 Center Theatre Group Sherwood Award Finalist, named Inspiring Young Latina by Latina Magazine,  a TCG Young Leader of Color, an #ArtEquity cohort member, a NALAC Leadership Institute graduate, an American Express Leadership Training Alumni, a Kennedy Center Leadership Midwest alumni, a Mellon Foundation Artistic Leadership Fellow at the LATC, and participated in the National Directing Devised Training Institute.

This Boricua migrated from island paradise to “the South” to study Literature, History and Chemistry. After completing her Master’s in Literature, she read a thousand and one plays to earn her PhD in Comparative Literature at Penn State. Her dissertation explored the use of ritual in women’s drama, focusing on the work of individual theater artists and collectives. She teaches courses in Race, Gender, and Postcolonial Literature as well as Writing Creative Nonfiction at North Park University where she is also University Dean. She became an Ensemble Member of Teatro Luna, Chicago’s All Latina Theater Company, in 2010 although she infiltrated in 2005. She loves coffee, chocolate, monks and the Three Kings. 

Christina Igaraividez is a storyteller, content creator and actor. She has trained in comedy across Chicago, New York and Los Angeles at places like Second City and UCB. She is the co-creator for the social media comedy channel Latinaish TV and has been a finalist for the Sundance YouTube New Voices Lab. Christina also teaches storytelling and was featured on the Moth Podcast. She’s a creative producer with Teatro Luna West where she co-produced an Audible Original – Talking While Female & Other Dangerous Acts featuring 25 stories from Latinas across the U.S. on the themes of risk and resilience.

HOST

Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him/his/el) is a bilingual, Colombia-born cultural worker with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. For two decades, Julián has studied systems of oppression and has worked toward humanizing those who have been socially, politically, and geographically excluded from the hierarchies of power by centering, elevating, and amplifying their voices, experiences, and histories. He is the founder of the social justice storytelling organization The Nasiona, where he also hosts and produces The Nasiona Podcast. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee, a Trilogy Award in Short Fiction finalist, and the author of Marx’s Humanism and Its Limits and Reporting On Colombia. His work appears in PANK MagazineInto the Void MagazineThe Acentos Review, Burningword Literary Journal, among others. Julián holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from the University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.

Twitter and Instagram: @je_torres_lopez

jetorreslopez.com

The Nasiona Podcast amplifies the voices and experiences of the marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, as well as gives you a glimpse into Othered worlds. We focus on stories that explore the spectrum of human experiencesstories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López

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Original music for The Nasiona Podcast was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Joe Sparkman and Marcus Allen, aka The Heavyweights.
Joe Sparkman: Twitter + Instagram. Marcus Allen: Twitter + Instagram.

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