UA’s arts, humanities and social sciences grant-making center at UA - Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.
One of Confluencenter’s grant projects, Barrio Stories, is having performances in March (via Borderlands Theater) and Confluencenter’s Show & Tell is giving a preview and overview of the project on Feb. 10. The project is about capturing the history of the residents of the downtown neighborhood that was demolished to build the Tucson Convention Center.
UA confluencenter for Creative Inquiry
Show & Tell @ Playground: Barrio Stories Project
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m.
278 E. Congress St.
In the late 1960s, a culturally diverse, 80 acre residential and business district in downtown Tucson was demolished as a consequence of urban renewal and the construction of the Tucson Convention Center complex.
Over 100 years of historically significant and irreplaceable cultural spaces, shops, homes, restaurants and entertainment venues, notably La Plaza Theatre, were wiped out.
Through the work of University of Arizona faculty, Borderlands Theater and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, the Barrio Stories Project is reviving the history of this neighborhood in several public events this spring.
"The Barrio Stories Project offers an innovative approach to disseminating history and will inform audiences about an important chapter that vastly altered downtown Tucson's physical and ethnic landscape," said Lydia R. Otero, a UA Mexican American studies professor.
The free February Show & Tell @ Playground event is a preview and overview of "Barrio Stories" and its upcoming March 5-6, 2016 performances, which features Borderlands Theater actors bringing to life the oral histories of the residents whose homes were lost to the construction of the convention center.
Otero received a 2015 Faculty Collaboration Grant from the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry to help realize the Barrio Stories Project, and is working in partnership with Elaine Romero, an assistant professor at the UA School of Theatre, Film, and Television.
"The production of this play also speaks to the importance of academic and community collaborations and I am glad that the Confluencenter is invested in funding these types of partnerships," said Otero, a scholar in culture, history, urbanization and the award-winning author of "La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City" (published by UA Press in 2010).
Otero and Romero are working in conjunction with the Borderlands Theater, youth, anthropologists, historians and playwrights to theatricalize the narratives in order to share the neighborhood's rich history and reclaim the voices of its community members.
"The deep work professor Otero has done with her historical research, her life in Tucson and her profound connection to our community supplies our collaboration with an authenticity that cannot be acquired by any other means," Romero said.
"There is no shortcut to seeing a community through the eyes of someone who has lived through its changes and reconfigurations. Indeed, 'Barrio Stories' will speak to a hard-earned truth of our Tucson community," Romero said. "Not all stories are easy to tell and this one might bring a few tears. That's the only kind of story worth telling."
Javier Duran, director of the Confluencenter, has familial ties to the community that was razed. "My father was born in Pennington Street in 1924 so this project hits close to home, as it connects
many memories. La Calle and downtown have always been a part of my family's historical and cultural imaginary. I'm delighted to see Professor Otero tackling this subject, and that Confluencenter is sponsoring a project that successfully captures the diverse heritage of the Tucson barrios and reminds our contemporary audience of downtown's not very distant past."
Details on the Borderlands performances are at BorderlandsTheaterom.
The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry works with scholars in the Colleges of Humanities, Fine Arts and
Social and Behavioral Sciences, awarding Faculty Collaboration Grants for interdisciplinary research
along with supporting a Graduate Fellows Program. More details are available at
BORDERLANDS THEATER PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Milta Ortiz
Borderlands Theater presents the world premiere of Barrio Stories
CUTTING EDGE THEATER
Borderlands Theater presents the world premiere of Barrio Stories, written by award winning playwrights Elaine Romero, Virginia Grise, and Martin Zimmerman. Barrio Stories is a site-specific, promenade style theatrical event directed by Marc David Pinate. Barrio Stories runs March 3- March 6.
Staged outdoors on the grounds of the Tucson Convention Center (TCC), this theatrical spectacle brings to life the oral histories of Tucson's original Mexican American neighborhood demolished with the building of the convention center in the 1960s. Precious memories come to life as audience members take a theatrical tour of what used to be the bustling epicenter of commerce and public celebrations for Tucson's Mexican-American community (some seating is available.) Four vignettes with performance installations encountered throughout the plaza culminate in an interactive post show pachanga: featuring folklorico and mariachi youth ensembles with interactive art and audio booths for all ages.
PRESERVING MEXICAN AMERICAN HISTORY THROUGH THEATER
The Barrio Stories Project celebrates and preserves the history and heritage of Tucson's historic Mexican-American barrios. Using a cross-sector process — involving anthropologists, historians, youth, theatre makers, and community — the project collected oral histories from elders who remembered the area known as Barrio Libre or La Calle — a hub of commerce and community celebrations torn down with the building of the TCC in 1968. These narratives form the basis of Barrio Stories, a new play written by a team of nationally renowned playwrights: Elaine Romero, Virginia Grise, and Martin Zimmerman.
NEW WAVE OF THEATER SWEEPING ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Part walking tour, part historical reenactment Barrio Stories aims to appeal to new audiences by breaking theater out of the proscenium box and taking it to the streets. Most theaters are grappling with the question of how to reach and engage a new audience. South Coast Reparatory and La Jolla Playhouse in Southern California staged outdoor theatrical spectacles Dialogos and El Henry, respectively, in an effort designed to reach a new audience and break barriers. Dialogos had several community engagement strategies designed to reach a new demographic and develop new audiences. Engaging community members along with professional artists in the process is a way for the community to have a stake in theater. It's a way of democratizing theater and making it accessible to a broader audience, while creating a quality product. The hope is that community members will come back to the theater and bring their friends, neighbors, co-workers.
Borderlands rides the wave of radical hospitality. Radical Hospital has proven successful for Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. As a smaller theater, Borderlands relies on ticket revenue for the time being. For Barrio Stories Borderlands Theater is offering admission for a $10 suggested donation with "no one turned away for lack of funds." The idea is to make theater accessible to a broader group, people who typically can't afford theater, which often translates to a younger and a more diverse audience.
RE-INHABITING UNDER UTILIZED SPACES
Part of this new wave of theater has roots in site-specific work. The goal of site-specific work or "creative placemaking" is to bring theater to the people and activate an under utilized space. Similar to Creative Time's work in New Orleans, which activated the devastated vacated landscape of the ninth ward with a production of Waiting for Godot soon after hurricane Katrina. Creative placemaking works on the assertion that public spaces are for creative and free expression. The play or creative activity should resonate with the history and nearby inhabitants of the space. Borderlands will re-inhabit the Tucson Convention Center grounds with stories of the of Tucson's original Hispanic barrio. We believe in honoring and celebrating that history with the community at large. The goal is to populate the TCC with Tucsonans, some of whom have contributed to the performance and others who will interact with the performance during the run of the show. We plan to create papel picado inspired banners with audience reflection art and have that displayed somewhere locally for some time. We will also record and photograph audience reflections in an effort to preserve this re-inhabiting of space.
MORE ON THE PLAYWRIGHTS:
Elaine Romero An award-winning playwright, Elaine Romero has had her plays Barrio Hollywood, Secret Things, Curanderas! Serpents of the Clouds, The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen, and Day of Our Dead presented at such theatres as Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, Borderlands Theater, Women's Project and Productions, Magic Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, San Diego Rep, INTAR, City Theatre, the Miracle Theatre, the Phoenix Theatre, Invisible Theatre, the Curious Theatre Company, Urban Stages, the Working Theatre, and the New Theatre among others. She has been published by Vintage Books, Samuel French, University of Arizona Press, University of Iowa Press, Smith & Kraus, Playscripts, Inc. and Heinemann Press. A past Guest Artist at South Coast Repertory and the Mark Taper Forum, Romero serves as Playwright-in-Residence at the Arizona Theatre Company, managing their National Latino Playwrights Award.
Virginia Grise From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa — Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. Her play blu was the winner of the 2010 Yale Drama Series Award and was recently published by Yale University Press. Her other published work includes The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press).
Virginia is a recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, the Playwrights' Center's Jerome Fellowship, the Loft Literary Center's Spoken Word Fellowship, Pregones Theatre's Asuncion Award for Queer Playwriting, and is a Time Warner Fellow Alum at the Women's Project Theatre Lab. Her work has been produced, commissioned and/or developed at the Alliance Theatre, Bihl Haus Arts, Company of Angels, Cornerstone Theatre, Highways Performance Space, Playwright's Center, Pregones Theatre, REDCAT, Victory Gardens, Women's Project and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Martin Zimmerman is a multi-ethnic, bilingual playwright whose plays include Seven Spots On The Sun, White Tie Ball, The Making Of A Modern Folk Hero, The Solid Sand Below, and Let Me Count The Ways, and have been produced or developed at The Kennedy Center, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, LCT3, New York Theatre Workshop, Victory Gardens Theater, The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Marin Theatre Company, The Playwrights' Center, Alliance Theatre, A.C.T. (Seattle), PlayPenn, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, American Theater Company, The Theatre @ Boston Court, and Chicago Dramatists to name a few. He is a recipient of the Terrence McNally New Play Award, Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citation, Humanitas Prize New Voices Award, Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, McKnight Advancement Grant, Jerome Fellowship, Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellowship, and National New Play Network's Smith Prize among others.
MORE ON THE DIRECTOR:
Marc David Pinate is a theatre artist/performer and educator. Companies he is proud to have worked with include Teatro Vision, Shadowlight Productions, Campo Santo, The Magic, and El Teatro Campesino in the Bay Area; Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, and American Theatre Company in Chicago; Denver's Su Teatro, and Arizona Theatre Company and Borderlands Theater locally. Marc was the recipient of a three-year directing residency funded by the Doris Duke Foundation at La Peria Cultural Center in Berkeley, California. During his residency he founded the Hybrid Performance Experiment (The HyPE) known for their site specific theatre performances on Bay Area Rapid Transit trains and mall food courts.. Marc holds an MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. His artist interests lie in merging elements of ritual and ceremony with professional theatre aesthetics. Popular Theater forms such as giant puppetry, shadow theatre, and mask work have become a recent passion
Outdoors on the grounds of the Tucson Convention Center 260 S Church Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701. $10 suggested donation (no one turned away for lack of funds) at the entrance. Two entrances: off of parking lot A, Church St. and parking lot C, Granada St.
3/3/16 10am-12: 45pm Performance 12:45pm-1: 15pm Audience Interactive Pachanga 3/4/16 10am-12: 45pm Performance 12:45pm-1: 15pm Audience Interactive Pechanga 3/5/16 11am-1: 45pm Performance 1:45pm-2: 45pm Audience Interactive Pachanga 3/6/16 11am-1: 45pm Performance 1:45pm-2: 45pm Audience Interactive Pachanga
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT BORDERLANDS THEATER BOX OFFICE
AT (520) 882-7406. In person at 40 W. BROADWAY, TUCSON 85701.
ON LINE: www.borderlandstheater.org
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