Q: You do so much across the spectrum fight choreography, directing, writing, producing, performing… How do you feel about those different roles and how do they inform one another?
A: It’s all story-telling. Birds need to fly. Fish need to swim. Humans have a deep need to tell and hear stories. So I do whatever i need to do to help get the stories that come my way… out. I love acting as it’s the most fun for me. I get a kick (pun intended) out of fight-direction because it’s a quick adrenaline fix. I like producing if it’s a pet project. I write when the Muse insists. Directing, I don’t care so much for.
Q: New York Madness (NYM) has worked with a lot of LAByrinth members over the last couple of years because we think there’s a lot of talent in your crew. How did that happen and how do you guys stay together? NYM wants to know- What’s your secret?
A: I can only speak of my experience. Your question will probably elicit a different answer from each person asked with the exception of the concept of an artistic home.
I first joined Labyrinth in 1992. We all sort of grew up together: getting our first agents, booking our first film/tv gigs, producing our shows. We attended each others weddings, funerals, births of children, helped each other move and parties, parties, parties. The bonds formed in the early years are unbreakable to me. Labyrinth is my complex, entwined cult/family. I believe those peak collective experiences as a company are what keep us together.
Q: Where do you go when you want to refuel as an artist? What are the things that most inspire you?
A: I usually go to my home town of El Paso, TX to visit my family when I need to refuel. Between my folks, the open Texas skies and the desert mountains, I get the replenishing I need. Solitude is also important. When exhausted, I lock myself away for a couple of days and do nothing but eat , sleep and listen to music.
Things that inspire me: Classic literature, live rock concerts, nature.
Q: You just produced Bright Untamed at INTAR, a LGBTQ Latin festival, which was fierce! I’ve had conversations with many different types playwrights who have expressed fears of being ghettoized outside of “mainstream” theatre. You’re clearly creating opportunities for some of those people. How do you see the future of theatre as it relates to minorities?
A: That’s a tricky question. I recently heard the term “culture poaching” in regard to exploitation of minority culture and use of artists of color to head educational programs for institutions in order to get funding, but then rarely featuring those same teaching artists of color on the stage in any real capacity. So… I can only hope that my fellow “minority” artists put on their “American” (even if they’re Central or South American) hats and go out and make the art they wish to by any means necessary. While I may be viewed by some people as a minority in terms of being Latino and Gay, I am definitely of an American “Fuck It!” mind-set.
Walt Whitman is my favorite American poet and there is a passage from Leaves of Grass that may express how I feel about your question: “…the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors..” This gives me strength and the feeling that i and people like me: of color and gender variance, that we have as much right to be on a stage as anyone. By the right of our humanity. I hope this “can-do” philosophy spills heavily into the film/tv/web/music arenas, too.