Susana Tubert (1993)
Being a Latina, being a woman, being a director makes my entire life seem like a political act. I’ve come to terms with that. It’s impossible to do otherwise in the time we are living. But it is ironic that what makes you thrive — your culture, your roots and past — is what is often used to limit you, your possibilities. I don’t see it as limiting, however, to create from your own cultural basis. I care and carry on very much about my culture. I don’t want to measure my ability to succeed in the American theater on my ability to slip in and do what everyone else is doing.
There has yet to be much support for Latino writers and directors in non-Latino theater. When Latino plays are produced, more often than not, they are directed by Anglo directors. At the same time, Latino directors are rarely considered for other plays. This makes it hard for us. To grow, I need to work on the greatest plays, the greatest writers — from all cultures.
Because I live in both worlds, the English-speaking and the Spanish-speaking, and move freely between them, I think of myself as a bridge between the cultures. I see the similarities of people from both cultures and inevitably that comes out in my work. Anecdotally, we may be different, in the specific details of our stories, but essentially we are not.
I have seen a number of Latino plays directed by non-Latinos and they are often very well done, in terms of the design, the quality of the acting, the conception. Yet, all too often, because these directors are foreign to the world of the Latino play, their productions tend to reinforce what makes us seem different instead of what we have in common. This makes it harder to build any kind of bridge to an Anglo audience, so that they may find our stories within themselves.
I think there has been some change, though I see more of it on the West Coast than the East Coast. I recently directed a workshop of Unmerciful Good Fortune by Eddie Sanchez at the Seattle Rep. The cast included two local Anglo actors and four Latino actors from New York. This was my first experience working at a theater of that size. I must say it was very empowering to be able to be myself in that situation. I don’t always feel comfortable in a non-Latino environment, but that wasn’t the case there. A telling moment was when a production manager came to me during a rehearsal and said that it was odd to hear someone speaking Spanish in the theater. I didn’t even realize I was. And I thought, how great it is that I’m speaking Spanish here.
The only reason we have to talk about these issues — in any language — is because we have to talk about them. I’d love to be able to get on with art and life without having to put everyone into boxes. For the time being, we may have to develop a self-consciousness about this if we are going to get anywhere. But I believe we will be able to get through that. As I see it, there is an ecological imbalance in the cultural field that has to be fixed.
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