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Frankie Alicea-Ford Joins New Village Arts As Artist-in-Residence

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Local arts educator and performer Frankie Alicea-Ford has joined the NVA staff for the 2020 – 2021 season.

Frankie Alicea-Ford Joins New Village Arts As Artist-in-Residence

New Village Arts Theatre is thrilled to announce that local arts educator and performer Frankie Alicea-Ford has joined the NVA staff for the 2020 - 2021 season. Alicea-Ford joins NVA as its Artist-in-Residence thanks to a grant from the California Arts Council.

Frankie Alicea-Ford is a San Diego-based, New York City-trained actor and educator who has been performing and teaching professionally since 2012. After receiving his BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Frankie has performed and taught in Prague, New York, Chicago, Connecticut and San Diego. He created the theater program at Achievement First Middle School in Hartford, CT and went on to teach the award-winning high school theater program at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He was also the Residential Director of The Center for Creative Youth, based out of Wesleyan University. He is currently working as a teaching artist with La Jolla Playhouse and Arts for Learning, San Diego and has training in devised theater techniques, arts integration and trauma-based theater practices.

Mr. Alicea-Ford will be reinvigorating NVA's education and outreach programs, and will breathe new life into NVA's multicultural, bilingual outreach initiative, Teatro Pueblo Nuevo. Alicea-Ford, an accomplished actor, theatre-maker, and educator, will ensure that Latinx voices are honored and celebrated in North County San Diego throughout NVA's extensive programming, and that NVA's education and outreach programs are made available and accessible to all members of our community. Alicea-Ford is also co-creating an original holiday musical for NVA alongside Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Kevin "Blax" Burroughs, and Dea Hurston (who will also be writing the script). NVA's Executive Artistic Director, Kristianne Kurner, adds, "All of us at NVA are thrilled to have Frankie Alicea-Ford on the team. Mr. Alicea-Ford is an incredibly talented actor, singer, and musician as well as an exemplary teaching artist. We are confident that under his leadership our education and outreach programs will be made stronger and more accessible to everyone in our community and our artistic programs will thrive."

The following interview with Alicea-Ford gives insight to his goals for NVA and San Diego theatre.

Q: What sort of work have you been doing in the San Diego arts community since moving to San Diego?

Frankie Alicea-Ford: Since being in SD, I've been working as an actor with NVA, though my primary work out here has been in the educational realm. Working with multiple educational organizations throughout San Diego, I've spent the past two years in classrooms working with both youth and adult students. I have always purposefully focused my educational work on using theater to lift up the voices, stories, and bodies of marginalized students and I look forward to continuing that work here, in San Diego. We live in a world that too often invalidates the power, words and stories of all marginalized communities - theater is a powerful tool that can show folx how mighty they are, how important their words are, and how necessary their stories are.

Q: If you had to describe your role for NVA in one brief sentence or phrase, what would it be?

A.F.: Well, my first thought is "Making sure everything stays as brown/black as possible." But maybe that's too much. I could also say "Ensuring that there is true representation throughout the company, create fresh, relevant educational programming to offer to all students, and work to ensure that all members of our communities know that they have a seat in our audiences, a place on our stage, and a home at New Village Arts."

Q: What are some of the changes, additions, or creations that you will be implementing in your new role at NVA?

A.F.: Something we've been working on already is making all of our communications bilingual because if one wants new folx to come into your space, one should ensure that those folx can literally understand you. We've also been working on some really exciting Spanish-language initiatives-for both our general audience, in an attempt to introduce them to different aspects of Latinx culture as well as creating programming in Spanish for Spanish speakers! I'm also excited to build and diversify the teaching artist team to make certain that the humans we are sending into classrooms look like, and understand, the communities they are trying to serve. Outside of that, we are working to create exciting, new educational programming, both in person and digitally, to offer to our communities while also reaching out to new communities so we can continue to expand and deepen the impact of NVA's educational outreach.

Q: You're going to be revitalizing NVA's Teatro Pueblo Nuevo program; what sort of things can NVA and other companies do to engage and amplify the voices of our local Latinx populations?

A.F.: Recognize us! Invite us! Produce our work! Honor our stories! Remember the fact that we are living on stolen land and honor the folx who were here first. Look around at your casting team-do they all come from similar backgrounds? Look at the pieces you've produced-who were the playwrights? Look at the casts you've put on your stages-what do they look like? What about your management team? Your board of directors? Your community liaisons? Your ushers?

It's easy to say that you are 'focusing on diversity' or 'committed to creating an inclusive space' but the work doesn't stop there. If folx are truly trying to engage and amplify the voices of our Latinx communities (and truly, all marginalized communities), you have to start by noticing that you, and narratives/languages that are familiar to you, can't be the priority all of the time. And then pass the microphone. It's tough to amplify anything if you're talking over it the whole time.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that you're particularly excited for?

A.F.: We have a Spanish-language Spoken Word class that I am super excited to move forward with! And, Covid-willing, I'd love to throw a good, old fashioned Bomba at NVA to celebrate el Día de Reyes in January! I'll keep you updated. (If you don't know what a Bomba is, imagine lots of food, music, dancing, laughter and a Puerto Rican tía telling you that you dance like a white boy... but maybe that last part is specific to just my family). Also looking forward to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with some digital play readings, musicians and more! Keep your eyes open for that!

Q: Any other thoughts, comments, or ideas you'd like to share?

A.F.: Yes! It's a scary time right now! There are lots of difficult and necessary conversations to have with the people we share space with. We all have an obligation to ensure that everyone in our communities is being respected, heard, and kept safe-and to ensure that we are doing so in a way that's a tad more impactful than a single statement. NVA has worked hard over the past few years, under the strong hand of Kristianne Kurner, to truly create an inclusive, safe space for everyone - regardless of what you look like, who you love, or how you speak. I am so excited to be joining a company that is doing the difficult work of becoming a space that offers more than performative inclusivity. I look forward to working with the team to continue that work and deepen our impact. And also, Black lives matter. I trust we haven't forgotten that.

New Village Arts is excited to welcome Frankie Alicea-Ford to the NVA staff. Upcoming Latinx programming, education and outreach opportunities, special events, and more will be announced online as they become available, through both social media (@NewVillageArts) and NVA's website: www.newvillagearts.org.


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