Latino Theatre Company to Open ¡SER! World Premiere, 11/16
Soccer fanaticism, sexual identity and politics. The Latino Theater Company presents the world premiere of ¡Ser!, a comedic solo show written and performed by Karen Anzoategui that features live music byCAVA and Walter Miranda written in collaboration with Louie Pérez of Los Lobos. ¡Ser! opens at the Los Angeles Theatre Center on Saturday, Nov. 16 with one low-priced preview on Nov. 15.
In ¡Ser! (the Spanish infinitive for "to be"), the soccer rivalry between Mexico and Argentina becomes a metaphor for Anzoategui's personal herstory as a queer Latina torn between her two homes: Buenos Aires and East L.A. Caught in the middle of the tumultuous match her parents call marriage, young Karen is kicked back and forth between the two cities, one a soccer paradise, the other the land of political and personal freedom. Along the way she fights her way out of dresses and into soccer gear. Who will be the object of her affection: the boys on the field or the girls in the stands?
"Karen shines on stage," says director Marcos Nájera. "She has a magical ability to flip in and out of multiple characters like a chameleon. She's wonderfully funny, and the show has the feel of a lively Argentine soccer game."
Anzoategui has been developing ¡Ser! for the past seven years. At LATC, live music will be incorporated for the first time.
"Creating music for ¡Ser! posed a challenge because of the intimate nature of the play," explains co-composer, percussionist and lead vocalist CAVA. "But we let Karen's stories take us back in time, and the music evolved into the soundtrack that continually plays in her mind. We are the voice she was not able to find growing up, the voice that represents who she has become."
An earlier version of the play titled Ser: L.A. Vs. B.A. was directed by Che'Rae Adams and workshopped at the One City, One PRIDE Festival in West Hollywood; at the Macha Theatre; and at the Hollywood Fringe Festival; and was selected as a finalist for New York's 2012 Downtown Urban Theatre Festival. Excerpts have been presented at REDCAT; the Nate Holden Center with Teada; at L.A.C.E., directed by Dino Dinco; at Arizona State University's Local to Global Justice Conference; at the 2012 MALCS: Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (Women Active in Letters and Social Change) at UCSB; and at Noche De Cultura for the 2013 MALCS at Ohio State University.
Karen Anzoategui is a writer, performer and "artivist." She was seen at Highways Performance Space in ProClitvities, directed by Virginia Grise, and received critical acclaim for her work in the world premiere of Evangeline, the Queen of Make Believe, a musical based on the songbook of David Hildago and Louie Pérez of Los Lobos, at the Bootleg Theatre ("Karen Anzoategui as Rita is a comedic gem - LA Weekly). Karen's solo show Catholic School Daze, which utilizes Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to transform the audience into participants, has been workshopped at UCSC for the Western Regional Conference; University of New Mexico for the AJAAS conference; La Peña Cultural Arts Center with Perra Pumps (excerpt); Highways Performance Art Space; will be presented at UCLA with La Familia and at USC for the Models of Pride conference this month; and has been selected for the 2013 fall Studio Series at REDCAT. Karen was an actor/dancer for Autonets by Micha Cardenas exploring networks, autonomy, safety, anti-violence and resistance. TV credits include Latino 101 with NuvoTV and the Homies Hip Hop Show on LATV. Karen has dedicated her time to the HIV/AIDS social service field since 2005, and was featured in Frontiers magazine's "Leading by Example" issue this past July. She received her B.A. in theater from Loyola Marymount University.
Marcos Nájera is a hybrid storyteller: actor/director/journalist. A recipient of CTG's Dana Fellowship and an Oregon Shakespeare Festival Directing Assistantship, he's an East LA Rep company member, a rebel performance artist for Guillermo Gomez Peña's La Pocha Nostra troupe and a long time artistic associate of playwright Anna Deavere Smith. Marcos is currently crafting curriculum with Smith at NYU's Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. He holds two degrees from Stanford University and a Certificate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education's "Mind, Brain & Education Institute." His current one-man show about mental health in communities of color is calledNeuroplasticity: The Brown Brain. As a reporter, he's filed stories for NPR, the BBC, CNN and NPR's Latino USA.
Co-composer, percussionist and lead vocalist CAVA creates a combination of sounds that is unique to a Mexican-American upbringing. Musically influenced by Celia Cruz, Perez Prado, Javier Solis, Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince and many more, her ensemble seamlessly blends traditional Afro-Cuban Son, Cumbia, Ska, Salsa and Funk. CAVA has independently released two albums titled "CAVA" and "A Naughty Dread" that introduce this new configuration of Latin-powered jazz tinged with Peruvian soul.
Co-composer, pianist, keyboardist and bassist Walter Miranda is best known for his eclectic arrangements for the '90s ska group Yeska, a group he co-founded. He has been a member of groups including the Beastie Boys, Money Mark, Sublime and Mexico's Plastilina Mosh and is a co-writer and producer on both CAVA albums.
Scenic design for ¡Ser! is by Leah Ramillano and costumes are designed by Manuel Prieto.