San Diego REP And Amigos Del REP Host Third Latinx New Play Festival
A weekend of staged readings of new works from Latinx playwrights
San Diego Rep strives to create a more inclusive community through artistic works that celebrate a diversity of voices. The REP has a long history of highlighting Latinx stories and one way they continue in this mission is through Amigos del REP, a theater council of community members and artists who advocate for Hispanic, Latino and Chicano work at the REP. One of the results of its advocacy was the creation of The Latinx New Play Festival, a showcase of new works from up and coming playwrights.
Santiago Iacinti is directing Jordan Ramirez Puckett's "To Saints and Stars" and has been working with the festival since its inception.
"With my work I aim to stage any features for people of color and the LGBT community," Iacinti said. "I feel a responsibility to create visibility for the communities that I come from. Amigos is dedicated to doing that work. Amigos operates within San Diego Repertory Theatre and I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to create this home base that has been supportive of artists like me and I think it's important for. Four artists of color to be able to tell their own stories."
Ramirez Puckett's play is about two lifelong friends: Zoe is the wife of a Greek Orthodox priest and she is pregnant with her first child and Sophia is hoping to be selected for the first manned mission to Mars. It is a lay about friendship, non-romantic love, and the debate between science and faith.
"I am I consider myself a person of faith," Ramirez Puckett said. "But I also deeply value scientific contributions and I think a lot of times I see them put at odds with one another: Either you believe in God or you believe in science. So I'm really interested in exploring that through these two women. One is sort of representative of faith and one is representative of science, and what happens when they're working together versus what happens when they're fighting with each other. I think the world is much better if we work together. So I was interested in exploring that through these two characters."
"The play hits home to me," Iacinti said. "I come from a Latinx background. I was born in Mexico, grew up here in San Diego, and I think in my life, like many people who grew up in Latinx families, religion is at the foundation of the values that you grew up with. I was raised Catholic but I don't practice. I consider myself spiritual but not religious. And so I think something that play is questioning is, is there is something greater? It is challenging. What it is asking us is challenging. It is asking us to think about what we believe in and why. And I think in this time and place in this current political climate, I think it's important to be a critical thinker and to analyze what are our values? And I think that's at the core of what these characters are exploring."
The play had its first table read on Monday with the cast, playwright and director going through the play in its entirety for the first time together. That provided Ramirez Puckett with an opportunity to hear if jokes played, if dialogue sounded right in the mouths of actors, and just to begin to gauge what an audience response might be.
When the play is performed as part of the festival, it will be a staged reading, which means that the actors will have rehearsed to find the emotional truths of the piece but they will have scripts in front of them and there will not be costumes or sets and lighting will be minimal. A staged reading provides a great opportunity for a playwright to fine tune a play without the stress and financial risk of a full blown production.
Ramirez Puckett hopes her play, even in a staged reading will connect with an audience.
"I always hope that my plays make someone want to pick up the phone and call a loved one," she said. "I really hope that it inspires them to look at the relationships they have in their lives and and remember the people that they care about and to reach out to them. I think we could all use a little bit more of that."
The festival will hold staged readings of "To Saints and Stars" plus David Davila's "Aztec Pirates and the Insignificance of Life on Mars," and Alexis Scheer's "Laughs in Spanish." In addition there will be a festival showcase production of Cris Franco's "57 Chevy" starring Culture Clash co-founder Ric Salinas.
The third annual San Diego REP Latinx New Play Festival takes place Friday through Sunday at the Lyceum Space Theatre.
Here is the full schedule:
Below is the schedule of the 2019 Latinx New Play Festival including the four staged readings and the festival showcase production of "57 Chevy."
Friday, Aug. 30
7 p.m. Gallery Walk
7:30 p.m. "DREAM HOU$E" by Eliana Pipes
9 p.m. Opening Reception
Saturday, Aug. 31
Noon Designer Showcase
1 p.m. "To Saints and Stars" by Jordan Ramirez Puckett
3 p.m. Sin Fronteras Writers’ Group Sharing
4 p.m. "Aztec Pirates and the Insignificance of Life on Mars" by David Davila
7 p.m. "57 Chevy" by Cris Franco, directed by Valerie Dunlap, starring Ric Salinas
8:30 p.m. Festival Party
Sunday, Sept. 1
11 a.m. Calaca Flaca Puppet Show
12 p.m. Lily Padilla Sneak Peek
1 p.m. Historical Context Panel
2 p.m. "Laughs in Spanish" by Alexis Scheer
4 p.m. Closing Toast