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Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA

Ailema Sousa’s FORT HUACHUCA will be presented live on stage at the Zephyr Theater July 14th and 16th as part of the 2021 SheLA Summer Theater Festival

Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA

Ailema Sousa's FORT HUACHUCA will be presented live on stage at the Zephyr Theater July 14th and 16th as part of the 2021 SheLA Summer Theater Festival. Fans of SheLA will have seen an online version of FORT HUACHUCA last year as part of their virtual 2020 SheLA Summer Theater Festival. Ailema found some time between her rehearsals to answer a few of my inquiries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Ailema!

What initially inspired you to write FORT HUACHUCA?

I wanted to write for the longest time, but I wanted to portray a love story set in the 1940's in a way that highlighted my passion for film. I did some research and realized that Black women and women of color in general were missing from the WWII narrative. All those movies, shows about WWII left a gaping space for a new perspective.

What is your three-line pitch for FORT HUACHUCA?

War hero trailblazers!

Has your script changed any from its 2018 debut at the OMR Theatre at the Complex, with the wide-spread George Floyd protests?

My script has changed in many ways since it's 2018 debut. I wrote a new poem for the ending Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA of the play that I think still resonates with what's happening in our current society. I think the George Floyd protests set off a chain reaction of events and discussions on racism that people couldn't avoid anymore. One debate that struck me was on the topic of the model minority and why we've been pitted against each other for so long and just allowed it. I wanted to explore this, dig a little deeper what would happen if two different minorities confronted each other and took a real look at the society they lived in.

FORT HUACHUCA was shown digitally online last year by SheLA. What challenges did you have to overcome in doing all your rehearsals and pre-production via Zoom?

I think the main challenge was anticipating technical difficulties with Zoom, actors keeping their cues in time. I also think another challenge was being able to keep the stakes high in the story and trying to translate that onto the screen... it wasn't an easy transition, but I thought our cast and director did a phenomenal job of keeping the authenticity of the story intact.

Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA Will this same cast be performing live at the Zephyr?

Some of our cast from our digital show last year will be reprising their roles. We also have some veteran actors who were featured at the LA Fringe show in 2018 returning, with some new additions this year. I'm excited for everyone to see what they can do!

When did you start your onstage rehearsals?

Our rehearsals for the festival this year started around mid-June... we had a really quick turnaround time. Our actors arrived off-book ready to go by our first rehearsal.

Have you worked with your director Ani Marderosian before?

Before SheLA I had never worked with Ani before, she is literally God sent! I'm just super grateful to have worked with her now before she becomes a big-time director/actor/all-around artist!

What cosmic forces first brought you and SheLA together?

I signed up to the LA Female Playwrights Initiations e-newsletter and this festival called SheNYC was looking for submissions for new work from female playwrights, there was an option to do it in New York City or Los Angeles. I did some research and read their mission, and I loved that they were about championing new stories. I love that it was a festival led by women for women. I am super grateful to be a part of their awesome repertoire of shows, legacy!

Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA You were most lucky to complete filming your part in The Crown before the pandemic closed everything down. Which gives you more gratification: acting or writing?

Depending on what day you ask me. LOL! I guess both acting and writing allow me to live several different lives. Acting allows me to physically step into another's shoes. With writing, there's so much power and freedom over having the autonomy to create any world you want and seeing your words being spoken by other artists; it's definitely a surreal experience. With acting, you're sort of waiting to be picked; although I do love being on set, on stage with other like-minded creatives. There's nothing like it.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up - an actor or writer?

I loved reading books and writing reviews after I finished them. And while I still do, I always secretly wanted to be an actor... so I could be in The Goonies (Not that they should ever remake it... like ever).

Who were your early idols you looked up to?

Robin Williams for sure! Hook is still one of my favorite films. I would say I also looked up to and still look up to Angela Bassett and Sandra Bullock... they have different styles as Interview: Playwright Ailema Sousa Charging On FORT HUACHUCA With SheLA performers, but they have such presence and that Hollywood charm... to me they always looked liked they loved what they were doing, and as a kid, I thought that's what acting was all about... you have to enjoy it or what's the point?

What's in the near future for Ailema Sousa?

I was fortunate enough to be a part of a short film project titled Gliding, directed by Galina Chakarova which is currently doing rounds on the festival circuit. If you follow @glidingshort on Instagram and Twitter you can check to see when the next screening is!

Thank you again, Ailemna! I look forward to see your FORT HUACHUCA live.

For tickets to the live performances of FORT HUACHUCA July 14th and 16th at the Zephyr, log onto https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shela-arts-fort-huachuca-tickets-158002629117?aff=ebdsoporgprofile



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