Margarita Espada: Teatro Yerbabruja, a Conduit for Change

The immigrant stories that are here. . . when they see in us the possibility that it’s real. That’s why I focus on a specific community because we know the challenges . . . so young artists they see in us, [and] know that [change] is possible and we are here to support them.

Margarita Espada has traveled the world in her careers as an artist, educator and cultural organizer, training in physical approach to theater practice. Margarita is the founder and director of Teatro Experimenantal Yerbabuja, an art organization with the mission to use the arts as a tool for social change.  She is part of the faculty at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University where she teaches theater and activism.

Teatro Yerbabruja’s mission is to use the arts as a tool for social change, to promote professional artists and to nourish emerging artists. Its programs are designed to promote creativity and to motivate civic dialogue. (The Yerbabruja is a medicinal plant from Puerto Rico that flourishes in the harshest of conditions.) 

Teatro Yerbabruja’s mission is to use the arts as a tool for social change, to promote professional artists and to nourish emerging artists. Its programs are designed to promote creativity and to motivate civic dialogue.

The Yerbabruja is a plant that flourishes in the harshest conditions and survives for a better tomorrow with just the sunlight for hope. Our mission at Yerbabruja is to connect community, art, and education and create a positive impact in the lives of the people we connect with through our work! 

Yerbabruja believes that artistic enrichment and social revitalization go hand-in-hand, and together build strong and sustainable communities. Teatro Yerbabruja’s programs are anchored in the values of racial justice that honor the contributions of people of color, and that are truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We understand that definitions of art, culture, and creativity depend on the cultural values, preferences, and realities of residents and other stakeholders in a given community.   

We create and produce experimental theater & use theater and other art forms to increase and encourage the understanding among people of different cultural backgrounds; provide opportunities to minority artists through performance, arts and workshops to develop their works. We provide knowledge and appreciation for the arts.

Get involved:  volunteer; artist opportunities; vendor opportunities

Margarita received her Master of Fine Art in Dramaturgy  from Stony Brook University and her Bachelor of Art in Education from Puerto Rico University. She is a New York State and Puerto Rico-certified theatre teacher with over 30 years of experience as an educator, performer, playwriter, arts activist, and cultural and community organizer.  

She has conducted research, supported school and organization change efforts, and facilitated teacher / professional learning around applied theater, culturally responsive practice, curriculum design, problem solving, and reflective communication. Margarita also works as a project manager for Center for Community Inclusion, Long Island University. Her works includes coordinating with Family Engagement Specialists/Parent Liaisons in various districts to develop and conduct family friendly practices within schools.

  Margarita has won multiple awards for her arts excellence and community work including Suffolk County Proclamation,2019, Recognition Senator Boyle, 2019. Martin Luther King Living Legend Award, NAACP Islip, NY, 2018. Citation for  Cultural Organizer, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, 2018, Artist of the Year, Legislator Monica Martinez, Suffolk County, NY,2016.

  She has received numerous awards and proclamations for her leadership, her art and community work including Suffolk County Proclamation,2019, Recognition Senator Boyle, 2019. Martin Luther King Living Legend Award, NAACP Islip, NY, 2018. Citation for Cultural Organizer, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, 2018, Artist of the Year, Legislator Monica Martinez, Suffolk County, NY,2016. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times and by the Associated Press, Newsday, and numerous other media outlets.

Location: Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery

17 2nd Avenue
Bay Shore, NY 11706
631.626.3603

Facebook: #teatroyerbabruja

Instagram: #teatro.yerbabruja

Jessica Wu: Open Access Paths to Success

Actors Equity is opening its doors. I think this is one of the most exciting things that’s happening in my almost two decades as a Union member. It shifts the way people can become members. . . It is now OUR choice to become a member and that’s incredible.

Jessica Wu is an award-winning NYC-based playwright, director, songwriter, educator, and actor. Performance credits include the Broadway revivals of A Chorus Line and Miss Saigon, and she is the writer of numerous theatrical works including several full-length musicals – YOU, ME, I, WE (O’Neill Conference Semi-Finalist, Live & In Color Finalist, Winner of NAAP’s Discover New Musicals), and Poupelle of Chimney Town (debuting in Tokyo, Fall 2021; NYC, Summer 2022). In addition to her writing, Jessica is an Adjunct Theatre Professor at American University in Washington DC, and a Lyricist-Mentor with the Harvard-Radcliffe G&S Players. After spending several years running a Times-Sq non-profit theatre as Associate Artistic Director, Jessica is now is the owner/operator of her own consulting and development company Inspirate Creative. 

More than writing, directing, dancing, or producing my own projects – I love helping other creatives find their voice. 

In these past 2 decades, I’ve worked with a lot of creative people, on a lot of creative endeavors, in a lot of different stages of creative development. I’ve witnessed some incredible successes, but I’ve also seen innovative concepts fail to launch and brilliant ideas buried in mundane works.

I can 100% say: the most successful artists I’ve met are those who are truest to their own voice and the story they have to tell. 

While this may seem simple to the non-artist – believe me, I know from first-hand experience how impossible it can be with hundreds of other people’s influences, opinions and demands (not to mention your own hyperactive ideas and intense self-doubt) swirling around you. 

And, even though it is more-than-often single-minded, lonely work – I sincerely believe you shouldn’t have to be on that creative journey alone. 

That’s where I come in.

Through open-hearted collaboration, we can work together to help you and your work soar. 

I’m here to amplify your creativity and I can’t wait to connect with you.

Everything is storytelling and you are the storyteller. Your story and how you tell it has no choice but to be unique.

But I’ve worked with too many directors, producers, dramaturgs, and so-called ‘artist-mentors’ whose version of guidance is to impose their ideas, their ego, upon your work. 

So, I’m here to help you find your voice. Not their voice. Not my voice.

Your voice. 

Open Access  · Actors’ Equity Association (actorsequity.org)

As actor and delegate Jessica Wu (she/her) said, “To open up access to, especially, these communities who have been historically excluded from our industry through systemic racism, opening up that one pathway to be able to be seen, is a big step. It does not do anything to make more jobs, specifically for BIPOC artists. But it opens the door.”

#OpenAccessEquity #AsianActor #AEA #JessicaWu #BaayorkLee #Actor #FirstOnlineWithFran #Arts Advocacy

FB/Instagram: @woohoojwu

Leveraging Theatre for Social Good

Before it was fashionable to be an advocate or activist, my acquaintance Jessie Fahay invited me to join her very new theatre group. She had a vision to pair advocacy with theatrical productions, taking on socially relevant topics.

Jessica Jennings, Development Director of Ripple Effect Artists proudly talks about how they have stayed attuned to the most relevant issues pulling on the collective social conscience of all Americans:

That was in 2010. Seven years later, I could not be more proud of our endeavors and accomplishments at Ripple Effect Artists. Aside from the administrative feats, like becoming a 501(c)3 and earning grant funds, I mean that I am proud that we have stayed tuned to the most relevant issues pulling on the collective social conscience of all Americans. For example, we presented Tea & Sympathy, a play from the 50s about the bullying of homosexuals, and raised funds for the Trevor Project’s suicide prevention call center.

With each of our productions we both raise awareness with our audience, and make a financial donation toward an advocacy organization. We have worked with 11 different organizations on issues of heath care, suicide prevention, hospice, marriage equality, women’s rights, technology unemployment, sex trafficking, and now we will be looking at racism.

Our productions are paired with audience engagements such as talk-backs. While our dramas are wonderful for getting people curious about issues, real-world information and solutions from experts leave the audience empowered, informed, and pointed in a direction of taking action. Our audiences have reported taking these actions after our events: volunteering, signing petitions, conversing about these challenging issues in their own communities, and ending their participation in buying sex.

I am honored to have my work with Ripple Effect Artists as part of my artistic legacy. I like to say, in the spirit of Martha Graham, that there is no higher calling than to be fully used by our art.

Please get to know us better! We have a FREE event on May 11th, and a fundraiser on May 30th. Details and links are below.

Guarding the Bridge

May 11th @7pm

250 Park Ave., People’s United Bank.

FREE reading of Chuck Gorden’s GUARDING THE BRIDGE

Click here to RSVP

The Edge of Everyday

May 30th @ 8pm

Elektra Theatre, 300 W. 43rd St.

$45-$60 Tickets 

Rippleeffect.Jennings@gmail.com

 

Lady Liberty Theater Festival 2016

Theatre Educates:  New Festival Dedicated to Fighting Islamophobia

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival presents a trio of exciting immigration short plays aimed at curing the disease of Islamophobia in America, tied together by the ideals represented in the Statue of Liberty.

LLTF promo poster June 24Good Works Productions, in association with Aizzah Fatima, present the premiere of The Lady Liberty Theater Festival, featuring Fatima’s critically-acclaimed solo show Dirty Paki Lingerie, presented alongside two short plays by Monica Bauer, Lady Liberty’s Worst Day Ever and No Irish Need Apply. The three week limited engagement will take place at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001) from Wednesday, September 7th through Sunday, September 25th, 2016. On Sunday, September 11th, 2016 the festival will present a day of free staged readings that focus on the Muslim experience in America.

 

 

Dirty Paki Lingerie by Aizzah Fatima, directed by Erica Gould, interweaves the stories of six American-Muslim women, aged 6 to 65, all portrayed by Fatima in a virtuosic performance. Drawing from real-life incidents and one-on-one interviews with Pakistani-American women.

Joining Dirty Paki Lingerie are two shorts by award-winning playwright Monica Bauer, directed by Cheryl King:

  • Lady Liberty’s Worst Day Ever, starring Frances McGarry as the Statue of Liberty, and J. Dolan Byrnes as her agent, Vinnie. He breaks the news to Lady Liberty that she’s been purchased by Donald Trump, and is going to be rebranded as the Trump Statue of Liberty. Watch her fight back!
  • No Irish Need Apply (recently seen at The Kennedy Center in DC, and the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan), starring Ali Andre Ali as a Syrian refugee looking for a job in Queens, and Frances McGarry as Joan Fitzgerald, a crusty old woman who needs help running her bodega.

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival will also include back to back free staged readings on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Confirmed readings include What They Heard by Mona Mansour, directed by Kareem Fahmy; The Higher Education of Khalid Amir and Anne Frank in the Gaza Strip by Monica Bauer, directed by Glory Kadigan. The readings are free but donations will be collected on behalf of the International Rescue Committee for their work with Syrian refugees. For schedule information and full line up visit www.ladylibertytheaterfestival.com

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival plays the following schedule through September 25th**:

Wednesdays at 8:00 pm
Thursdays at 8:00 pm
Fridays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm

**Schedule Exceptions: On Sunday, September 11th from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm the festival will present various staged readings. On this day there will be no performances of Dirty Paki Lingerie, Lady Liberty’s Worst Day or No Irish Need Apply. There will no performances on Friday, September 16th.

Tickets range from $15.00 -$30.00.

Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001.

Running Time: Two hours with one intermission (Running time of readings vary).

Memorial Day 2016

 

Lin Manuel Art Advocacy

As we celebrate our bravest of soldiers who gave their ultimate sacrifice to protect our  freedom, I would like you to take some time to reflect on what it means to be An American.  Amid the bitterness and rancor of the 2016 Elections. . .

How haveThe Arts ( Dance, Theatre, Music, Photography, Graphic Arts) prompt a change in your life?

How did it change and/or alter your perspective about a viewpoint?

Share you story with First Online With Fran HERE