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SCR Launches Community Engagement Initiative With MASA

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Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei today announce a new initiative, SCR Community, an online series of free readings, events, interviews and community-centered stories to engage Southern California with the power of live theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. The series starts on Aug. 17, at 5:30 p.m., with MASA, a live, online fiesta with readings of four short pieces relating to the historical and cultural importance of masa.

MASA, curated and directed by Juliette Carrillo, includes selections from works by Luis Alfaro, Amilcar Juaregui, Lisa Loomer and the late Diane Rodriguez. The online reading of MASA is free, but RSVPs are required in order to receive the link to view the live event. Reservations may be made online at scr.org.

"I'm thrilled by the launch of SCR Community, utilizing our digital platform to celebrate stories that help shape the rich tapestry of Orange County," said Artistic Director David Ivers. "I'm confident our audiences will find much to appreciate in this content for a new era. I know our playwrights, directors and actors-many of whom have a long history with SCR-are thrilled to be a part of the creative process once again and so are we. Tune in!"

Added Managing Director Paula Tomei: "South Coast Repertory has always been strongly engaged with the Orange County community. As we move forward during these times, when we're unable to gather in person, it becomes even more important that we continue to celebrate our connections to each other. SCR Community provides us with the perfect venue for this-a virtual gathering spot."

MASA includes:

  • "The Gardens of Aztlan" (An Acto Hecho A Mano) by Luis Alfaro (from California Scenarios, a 2001 SCR-commissioned work)
  • "El Maiz" from Café Vida by Lisa Loomer
  • "Tejuino" from Tejuino by Amilcar Jauregui
  • The Path to Divadom, or How to Make Fat-free Tamales in G minor by Diane Rodriguez

MASA is the first of three events curated by Carrillo for SCR Community; the trio is collectively titled El Teatro de la Comida (Theatre of Food). The next two events will take place on Aug. 31 and Sept. 14.

"El Teatro de la Comida explores how food brings us together, even when we're forced to stay apart," said Carrillo. "Our relationship to food in this pandemic demands a different kind of attention and many of us have had to embrace cooking-'slow food'-and the art of preparing a meal. I'm interested in how recipes, smells and tastes live in our DNA; more specifically, in the Latinx community. Since every recipe has a lineage and a story, how do we reach back into the past and embrace the traditions of our ancestors?"

Tickets for these three events are free, but ticketholders are encouraged to support an online food drive, held in partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank of Orange County, to support those having trouble accessing nutritious food during the pandemic. More information is at the food bank's website: https://www.yourfooddrive.org/drive.php'scr_food_drive

Carrillo has had a long relationship with SCR including as a staff member and a director. Among the SCR works she directed were Sidney Bechet Killed a Man by Stuart Flack (1998); References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by José Rivera (2000); The Countess by Gregory Murphy (2000); Nostalgia by Lucinda Coxon (2001); California Scenarios (2001, site-specific work); Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz (2004); and Jane of the Jungle by Karen Zacarías (2012).

Luis Alfaro is a director and an SCR-commissioned playwright; his current commission is the third for the theatre. He is an associate professor of dramatic writing at the University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts. Among his honors are a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, PEN/America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre Award, Joyce Foundation Fellow and a two-time recipient of a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Play Awards. He was Oregon Shakespeare Festival's inaugural playwright-in-residence from 2013 to 2019.

Lisa Loomer is an actor, playwright and screenwriter whose first play, Birds, was produced at SCR in 1986. Her works for stage and screen include The Waiting Room, Roe, Living Out, Girl Interrupted and Happily Ever After. She has written the long-awaited musical adaptation of Lisa Esquivel's novel, Like Water for Chocolate. Loomer is the recipient of numerous honors including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award, Ovation Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Amilcar Jauregui is an actor and playwright from Orange County, Calif., and a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine. Tejuino is his latest work to tell a story that is important to him and that empowers the Latinx community.

Diane Rodriguez helmed Center Theatre Group's new play production program from 2005-19, part of her nearly quarter-century of work for CTG. Among the works she directed at SCR included two readings of The Beauty of the Father by Nilo Cruz (2002, Pacific Playwrights Festival and Hispanic Playwrights Project); a reading of Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams by Nilo Cruz (2000, PPF); and the production La Posada Mágica by Octavio Solis and Marcos Loya (2001-03). Rodriguez passed away in 2020.

More information about MASA is available at https://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=12097


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