Tag Archives: HowlRound

Demanding Action and Attention to Latina/o Theatre in Dallas: Deferred Action by David Lozano and Lee Trull

“Why hasn’t Congress passed an immigration reform bill that would protect the DREAMers and their families?” This is the central premise of Deferred Action, a new play co-written by David Lozano (Artistic Director of Cara Mía Theatre Company) and Lee Trull (Director of New Play Development at the Dallas Theater Center). Deferred Action played at the Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theater from April 20-May 14 under the direction of David Lozano. Deferred Action is the second piece in a trilogy on immigration that Cara Mía began with The Dreamers: A Bloodline (2013), which tells the story of a mother fleeing El Salvador for the United States with her baby—a key part of Deferred Action’s plot.

Democrats. Republicans. Politicians. Activists. No one is left unscathed.

The collaboration between Dallas Theater Center (DTC) and Cara Mía began in 2009 when newly-minted DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty attended Cara Mía’s production of Crystal City 1969, a company-devised play that dramatizes the Chicana/o civil rights movement in South Texas. Moriarty approached Lozano about both companies working on a new play that would continue Cara Mía’s work of staging Latina/o political history. This is the first collaboration between Dallas’s leading regional theatre and one of its leading Latina/o theatres, a unique collaboration that has involved Lozano and Trull co-writing the piece and a production that features actors from both theatre companies. Indeed, one of the most powerful parts of Deferred Action is seeing several Cara Mía company members make their DTC and major regional theatre debuts.

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Houston, We Have a Problem! Excluding Latina/o Stories in Tejas

In 2013, Smithsonian Magazine heralded Houston as the “Next Great American City,” citing its ethnic and cultural transformation over the last few decades as well as its reputation as a city where people can achieve the so-called “American Dream.” The Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University released a study that showed how Houston holds the nation’s most equitable distribution of the country’s major racial and ethnic groups: Asian, Latina/o, black, and white people. In Harris County, the demographics reveal that white people comprise only 33 percent of the population whereas Latina/os are 41 percent and African Americans 18.4 percent. In fact, of the population under 30-years-old, only 22 percent are white. The same year, an NPR feature celebrated this rich diversity. Still, in 2012 Pew Research Center ranks Houston as the most economically segregated city in the nation.

Houston is growing at an astronomical pace and there is no evidence that this is slowing down. Luckily, the arts are along for this ride. In 2015 and 2016 alone, the city has seen an unprecedented boom in the arts. The Alley Theatre just completed a $46.5 million makeover. The $25 million MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston) opened with four theatres, an art gallery, rehearsal space, and office space. Main Street Theatre unveiled a $2 million overhaul of their space. AD Players Theater broke ground on a $49 million facility in the Galleria area that will house three theatres, a scenic shop, classrooms, and offices. Queensbury Theatre (formerly the Country Playhouse) opened its new $6.5 million theatre. And the Museum of Fine Arts Houston broke ground on its $450 million expansion (including a theatre).

Despite what the demographics and influx of cultural arts activity reveals, Latina/o representation on stage in Houston is few and far between. In the 2015–2016 theatre season, out of all the full productions at the city’s leading professional theatres such as the Alley, Stages Repertory Theatre, and Main Street Theatre, only two were by a Latina/o author: The Danube by Maríe Irene Fornés at Catastrophic Theatre and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz at Stages. To repeat, in a city with over 2.1 million people (over 5 million in the metro area) at least 40 percent of which are Latina/o, there were only two Latina/o plays produced during the entire professional theatre season. To me, these numbers are startling and reveal that Houston is wildly behind other places with similar demographic diversity across the country such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago where Latina/o stories are frequently seen on a variety of stages: big, small, Latina/o, LORT, university, high school—you name it.

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#Syllabus4Ham: The HAMILTON Syllabus

When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton debuted at The Public Theater in early 2015 it sparked a resurgence of theatre into the national zeitgeist, something unseen since Rent premiered in 1996. Seemingly everyone is talking about Hamilton. In fact, at the Final Four in Houston this past April I overheard two men discussing the musical during halftime of Villanova’s buzzer-beating win over North Carolina.

Hamilton is everywhere.

Including the classroom. One night while teaching my elementary Spanish course at the University of Houston, on a whim, I cut short my lesson about the preterite vs the imperfect and decided to introduce my students to Hamilton. The result? They loved it. While they seemed apprehensive about watching musical theatre clips on YouTube, they left the classroom with a newfound opinion about what a musical could be.

Seeing my students’ interest in Hamilton, I did a google search for “Hamilton syllabus.” While there is a syllabus, or a reading list, for nearly every current pop culture phenomenon, nothing exists on Hamilton. Until now.

The Hamilton Syllabus (#Syllabus4Ham) is organized according to the following resources: Criticism, Perspectives, Ham4Ham, and Interviews (with Alex Lacamoire, Javier Muñoz, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Lin-Manuel Miranda). I have limited my syllabus to resources that speak exclusively to the musical and it is my hope that someone else will create another syllabus that includes critical race theory, feminist theory, queer theory, performance theory, etc. to frame a critical discussion about Hamilton.

Whether you find yourself looking to include Hamilton in your high school or university classroom, want to write the next great musical, or just want to read more about the show, the resources below provide a starting point for conversations about Hamilton.

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Criticism

Racializing the American Revolution Review of the Broadway Musical Hamilton – Donatella Galella (Advocate)

Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is – James McMaster (Café Onda/HowlRound)

Race-Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton – Lyra Monteiro (The Publican Historian)

Hamilton: the Musical: Black Actors Dress Up like Slave Traders…and It’s Not Halloween – Ishmael Reed (counter punch)

Hamilton– Stacy Wolf (The Feminist Spectator)

Hamilton missed a chance to highlight Haitian Revolution – Chinua Thelwell (Miami Herald)

Hamilton: Five Ways Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip-Hopped History Musical Breaks New Ground – Jonathan Mandell (HowlRound)

Father Worship: Hamilton’s New World scripture – Peter Manseau (The Baffler)

Perspectives

Hamilton, Theatre, and Democracy in America – Patricia Herrera (Café Onda/HowlRound)

A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn’t As Revolutionary As It Seems – Rebecca Onion (Slate)

Watching A Brown ‘Hamilton’ With A White Audience – Gene Demby (NPR)

‘Hamilton’: Meet the Man Behind Broadway’s Hip-Hop Masterpiece – Brian Hiatt (Rolling Stone)

The Making of the Hamilton Cast Album – CBS News

Questlove on ‘Hamilton’ and Hip-Hop: It Takes One – Ahmir Questlove Thompson (Rolling Stone)

Exploring ‘Hamilton’ and Hip-Hop Steeped in Heritage – Anthony Tommasini and Jon Caramanica (New York Times)

How ‘Hamilton’ Is Revolutionizing the Broadway Musical – Alisa Solomon (The Nation)

Non-stop Between Subway Stops: Underground Reflections on Hamilton – Oscar A. L. Cabrera (Café Onda/HowlRound)

Mi tierra, my testimony: a #HamilTestimonio – Rebecca Martínez (Café Onda/HowlRound)

Ham4Ham

Pedagogy

Making His Story Their Story: Teaching Hamilton at a Minority-serving Institution – Erika Gisela Abad (Sounding Out!)

In the (Class)Room Where it Happens; Incorporating Hamilton into Theatre Curriculum – Heidi L. Nees (Theatre Historiography)

Teaching Hamilton: An American Musical as Contemporary American Drama – Sunny Stalter-Pace (Pedagogy & American Literary Studies)

Teaching Hamilton – Greg Specter (Pedagogy & American Literary Studies)

Teaching Revision through Hamilton: An American Musical – Caitlin L. Kelly (Pedagogy & American Literary Studies)

Early American Library History and Digital Humanities Using Hamilton – Laura Miller (Pedagogy & American Literary Studies)

Deconstructing Hamilton Lesson Plan – Heidi L. Nees

Hamilton Scavenger Hunt Lesson Plan – Heidi L. Nees

Ham4Ham

Ham4Ham: Taking Hamilton to the Streets – Trevor Boffone (Café Onda/HowlRound)

Hamilton’s Ham4Ham Preshow: The Complete Compendium (So Far) – Laura Reineke (Vulture)

The Show Is Nonstop – Forrest Wickman (Slate)

Broadway hit ‘Hamilton’ has a Web win on its hands – Rae Votta (Daily Dot)

Hamilton Collage

Alex Lacamoire

Que Onda? with Alex Lacamoire, music director of Hamilton – Trevor Boffone (Café Onda/HowlRound)

The man behind the “Hamilton” sound: Hidden Beatles references, the “hip-hop horse” sample and why if “it’s all computerized, there’s no heart to it” – Suzy Evans (Salon)

Nerding Out With Hamilton Musical Director, Alex Lacamoire – Nate Jones (Vulture)

Javier Muñoz

Interview with Javier Muñoz – Marisela Treviño Orta (Café Onda/HowlRound)

Javier Muñoz on What It’s Like to Play Alexander Hamilton When Lin-Manuel Miranda Isn’t – Jessica Goldstein (Vulture)

Renée Elise Goldsberry

An Interview with Renée Elise Goldsberry – Victoria Myers (The Interval)

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Genius: A Conversation With ‘Hamilton’ Maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda – Rembert Brownie (Grantland)

How Lin-Manuel Miranda Shapes History – Edward Delman (The Atlantic)

Que Onda? with Alex Lacamoire, music director of HAMILTON

Here, Trevor Boffone interviews Hamilton’s music director, orchestrator, and co-arranger Alex Lacamoire about his journey as an artist, his Cuban heritage, and collaborating with Lin-Manuel Miranda on In the Heights and Hamilton.

Alex Lacamoire Grammy

Alex Lacamoire with the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. Photo courtesy of Laura Heywood Media.

Trevor Boffone: Growing up, who had the greatest influence on your decision to become a musician?
Alex Lacamoire:
Probably my cousin Linda, who bought me my first piano when I was four. One of my earliest memories is of walking out my front door to find Linda on the street, standing behind a moving truck that was unloading an upright piano and bringing it into my house. Linda was young, still in college, and not wealthy by any stretch, yet she still shelled out her own money to buy that instrument as a gift. Years later, just after Heights had become a hit, I asked what compelled her to do that for me. She said: “Primo…When you were two years old, you would sit in front of your home-stereo speaker and just stare into it, hypnotized by the sounds coming out of it. You were born to be a musician. Your parents couldn’t afford a piano, and I couldn’t let the opportunity for you to learn be denied.” Naturally, I cried when she told me that story.

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#LTCdallas: Challenges, Opportunities, and Reflections of the Texas Latina/o Theatre Community

On Friday, October 30, 2015, I woke up early, showered, packed, and hit the road for Dallas. In between a pit stop at Buc-ee’s (a Texas institution) and nearly shredding my voice to the (then just released) Hamilton cast recording, I couldn’t stop thinking about the weekend ahead. I was en route to the Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC) Dallas Regional Convening (#LTCdallas) where Latina/o theatre in Texas would take center stage.

One of the principal goals of the Dallas Regional Convening was to connect Latina/o theatre artists and allies and their organizations in Texas to the growing National Latina/o Theatre Movement that has been in high gear since the initial LTC Convening in Boston in 2013. This was an important opportunity to dialogue, network, and deepen relationships across Texas and beyond. Among the LTC’s goals was to create a space to document, archive, and discuss the history of Latina/o Theatre in Texas for national dissemination as well as to investigate the varying challenges in and between regions.

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Texas-based artists and scholars at #LTCdallas