I've always said I wanted to put on for my city. I've been blessed with opportunities to work in Austin, New York and Detroit so far. But having a reading in my hometown was magical. There is something special about "coming back".
Last night, the Rec Room, a wonderful performance space, hosted a reading of my play Fae and Paciencia. Fae and Paciencia tells the story of Jorge, a Mexican-American college student whose life is quickly spiraling out of control until he has an unexpected encounter with Fae, an optimistic Black millennial who has a habit of being in the right place at the right time. The play depicts young people of color navigating college, family, mental health issues.
Stephen Miranda, the director, organized the reading with the Rec Room's Grace Rosenwinkel Cunyus as a part of their monthly reading series (Thirsty Thursdays). What?! Fae and Paciencia was a part of a monthly reader series? Like Big Sean says "On the come-up".
You don't know how many times I have sent that play off to opportunities, reading rooms and fellowships. It was even a finalist for the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference. I've gotten that "Thank you but..." letter/email for that play, but all it takes is ONE yes.
Dr. Trevor Boffone was my yes, passing the play on to Stephen Miranda. The truth is that you never really know when your time is, but it's coming. And this was the best place for it to be. My city. What I loved about this reading was getting to have HOUSTON-based artists act the script. Artists who really got into the roles and put their souls into the characters. Artists who really got into the script and helped me to hear the eb and flow of the piece.
This cast slayed.
FAE - Estee Burks
JORGE - Nasir Villanueva
DAD - Anthony August
PAPA - Giovanni Sandoval
CONSUELA - Micah Obregon
MARIA - Christa Ruiz
MOM/NURSE/PARAMEDIC/SECURITY/STAGE DIRECTIONS - Teresa Stranahan
I got the chance to see so many of my friends, family members and colleagues. I am so grateful for my audience. I just want to thank Oscar Franco and Anya Reyes for commissioning this Black American/Negra Americana girl to write a play that told black-brown stories in the Echame Un Ojo festival so long ago. This is why I do what I do. To see Black and Brown people on that stage...together.
I am ready to see this show taken to new heights!
I am writing this to tell you to keep going. Keep following your dream. Keep praying, living and moving forward. Don't let anyone or anything stop you. Don't let haters tell you what's what. Take constructive criticism, but only from people who have constructed something! Believe in yourself and the work that you do. It will all pay off.
This Saturday at 2pm. I, along with Alyssa Dillard, Stacye Markey, Jorge Luis Galán, Tarik Daniels, and Lori Navarrete, found ourselves in the Raul Salinas room at the Mexican American Cultural Center. "Why" you ask? Because it was time to hear Delivery again. You see the first time I was bouncing off the walls with nerves and excitement. The first time jitters will do that to you. By this time, I had heard it once so I was ready to workshop it.
When I got there, I was with my best friend Jorge who so graciously helped me set up for the event. The staff was so nice and they helped me with the parking passes, chairs and all of that. Then, we did a read through. That read through in that chill setting really helped me to see so much that I didn't see the first time around. I saw language mistakes, places where what I was trying to communicate was unclear and other things. It is a baby play after all.
The actors did a great job and Alyssa killed it at directing and leading a talk back. I all of them had worked on The Stories of Us and it was nice to see them again.
Murdr-Jorge Luis Galan
Stage Directions and Ms. Tolivar-Alyssa Dillard
Look them up. They some of Austin's finest!
I was a bit nervous about the work going in front of the audience that was coming including my former professor and mentor Roxanne, JoAnn Reyes, Cheryl Sawyer, my cs Jocelyn Zuniga, Adam Martinez, mi amigo Oscar Franco and other people who were important in my life.
The piece needs work. And my artistic Austin family was generous in their feedback. I left with so much to work with. That's the part of writing. Rewriting. Rewriting. Rewriting. And that's what we do as an artistic family, we help each other create great work!
Afterwards, I treated myself to Greek food, a nap, Disney channel, adult beverages, Captain Underpants and Gossip Girl reruns. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to come to Austin to do this work that I love so much.
-Jelisa Jay Robinson