Hembras de Pluma

#hembras2015

#hembras2015

“When I grow up, I want to be a stepmom,” said no one. Ever.

And so begins “Mother Lode,” the short play I wrote and am directing for this year’s Hembras de Pluma. You might remember from last year that we are a collective of women of color artists, actors, and writers. Or that we debuted during the 2014 Women & Creativity series at the National Hispanic Cultural Center to mostly sold-out audiences. You might remember the one and only Lola, grand dame of 1940s radio who refused to be aged out of her long-running show without a making a statement. You might remember the bond between six sisters and their makeup, or the teenager barricaded behind a flimsy bathroom door with her first box of tampons.

Though we know this to be true, I think we were all a bit surprised that we could take the tiniest seedlings of ideas, nurture them with time, attention, and hard work, and share them with our community. But there we were, writing on our laptops and journals around a dining room table, in a living room, on sofas and throw pillows. And then months later, lights, makeup, sound cues, audience.

And so we’re back with new stories. This time we’ve gone a little deeper, peeled back another layer.

Valli Rivera returns as Lola with new spicy advice for your life and a few secrets to share.

Monica Rodriguez brings us María Elena, a 40-something believer in love who has “spent a lifetime chasing the wrong men.”

Bineshi Albert explores the trafficking of indigenous women through a fast-talking, sharp-dressed salesman.

Michelle Estrada Allred shares two stories. In one she journeys to childhood in the land of pecans. In another she introduces a crew of cholas with a passion for public service.

María Teresa Herrera ignites the fire within three women as they drift into memories of life-changing events.

Andrea Serrano channels the voice of an elder as his life draws to an end.

Please join our audience at the National Hispanic Cultural Center as part of the Siembra Latino Theatre Festival, April 23 – May 3, Thursday – Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2:00. For tickets, call 505-724-4771 or visit tinyurl.com/hembras2015.

Follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, please contribute to our gofundme campaign. By day we work at non-profits, in children’s court, at a cancer center. We defend voting rights, organize our communities to protect clean air and water, and support vulnerable families. We help others tell their stories through poetry, dance, and theatre. Your gift not only enables us to build a set and pay our crew, but it supports our ongoing creative work, telling the stories of our communities, one little seedling at a time.

Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In Search of the Star

Christmas Eve we were returning from posole and tamales at my in-laws’ home, carne adovada and plática at our friends’ annual open house, and hot chocolate and luminarias in Old Town. One block north of our street, Henry slowed the car to flashing lights, an ambulance, police cars, a news van parked just beyond the police perimeter. When we reached home, our 8-year-old neighbor called out to P and ran across the street, a ritual she performs anytime both girls are home and awake.

“Thank you for my present. I’ll bring yours tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to do that, honey,” I said. “We just wanted to get you a little something.” I wanted her to talk about the watercolor paints and paper I’d wrapped and sent across the street with P earlier in the day. I wanted her to talk about her baby niece or getting her tooth pulled the week before, anything but the blue-red-blue-red lights behind her house. She is the eyes and ears of Atrisco, an inquisitive girl living in a family compound of older sisters, grandparents, mom, and visiting aunties who don’t always filter their conversations.

“They found a girl,” she said.

I remember my own 8- and 10- and 16-year-old self, growing up in a place where the police blotter was read on the local radio station, where the crimes were property damage or driving on an expired license. Our small town seemed impervious to murder, to robbery, to the shootings and stabbings reported on KOAT Channel 7. I thought Albuquerque was the most dangerous place in the world. Back in Deming the brown kids were shaped by the harsh tongue (and hand) of Sister Rosalie. In a town with one high school and one stoplight, everybody knows everybody else. If nothing else, fear of God and vergüenza kept us from mortal sin against our maker and our neighbors.

“That’s really horrible,” I said, standing next to P at our open gate, Henry and K already inside the house. “The police are still there. We don’t really know what happened yet.” It was Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus swaddled in the nativity manger, the white lights of our tree blinking through our living room window. P and I walked the girl back across the street, wishing her mom and grandma a Merry Christmas, not mentioning the red and blue glow still in view.

P and K changed into pjs while I set up the couch bed (as the kids call it) and Henry searched for news of the crime online. Police are investigating a homicide in southwest Albuquerque. A woman was found covered in blood. Blunt trauma. Puncture wounds. None of us mentioned the body again that night. Henry fell asleep next to the kids. I stuffed stockings and finished wrapping gifts, tasks made easier by living with children who’ve never really been into Santa Claus.

I thought of pre-school, my Christmas show at the Gingerbread House. I wore a red leotard and tights and a band of white tulle around my waist. I sat on Santa’s lap; he gave me the Cootie Bug game. I remembered Grandma Rosie’s tinsel tree on the bookshelf in her living room, her gas fireplace with the fake log that never blackened or diminished in size. I remembered all those Christmas Eves I scanned the night sky in search of the star that led the Magi and shepherds to baby Jesus. I thought of the family that found the body. I thought of the body, the woman, imagining her final moments. I thought of women’s bodies. In Juárez. On the mesa.

It was Christmas Eve.

Her name was Idali Reyes. She was 26. Two men were arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, and tampering with evidence. One drove. The other stabbed her. One said she accused him of owing her money. They dumped her body on the street, then burned their clothes. Police are looking for a third suspect.

I am thinking of children, what they know and what they don’t, what they say and what they keep to themselves. I am thinking of stories, those invented and those we only wish were make-believe. I am thinking of Bill Cosby, all the women. I believe them. I am thinking of my 8th grade art teacher. He coached my 7th grade basketball team and, like many coaches, insisted we dress up on days we had out of town games. I told him I didn’t like wearing skirts in the cold. He said, “Wear your wooly bra.” He never touched me, never hurt me. I was never alone with him. I was in college when he was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison for child molestation. I hope the children he harmed told someone. I hope they were believed. And even if they didn’t tell or they weren’t believed, I hope they know it wasn’t their fault. I hope they are healing, that the light in them feels stronger than the darkness. I hope they are well.

Healing, light, to be well. This is my wish for the 8-year-old across the street, for P and K, for our neighbors one block north, for those who have been harmed, for those doing the harming. For all of us.

 

 

Published in: on January 13, 2015 at 7:51 am  Comments (12)  
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