Hi LePig Blog Readers,
I thought I’d, as they say in corporate circles, “reach out” to you, say hello, see how things are out there in cyberland, and introduce myself.
My name is Alex Torra, I am currently serving as Pig Iron’s Associate Artistic Director. I thought I’d tell you a little about myself and about the cabaret-project I am putting together for May.
Though for some my face is a new one in the Pig Iron landscape, I actually first worked with Pig Iron years ago, all the way back in 2001 on the installation piece, Anodyne. Some of you may remember a smart-assy cater-waiter in the upstairs gallery space of the Anodyne world, who was kinda lazy and who enjoyed making off-color jokes about the Polish people…yeah, well, that was me.
The following summer I worked as Stage Manager on the premiere of Shut Eye, and then was lucky enough to be asked to travel with the show to Poland TWICE (the first time staying in Stalin’s guestroom at the Palace of Culture in Warsaw), and to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, AND to Ennis, Ireland, where we ate many breakfast meats and rode horses on the Irish coast.
Since those innocent and wide-eyed days of yore, I went to grad school and got my M.F.A. in Directing from the Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium and then spent a year working in theaters in
Well, one day I stumbled upon the incredible Princess Grace Foundation who awards fellowship grants to young artists, which go towards funding these artists for a time period in which they get to work closely with a not-for-profit dance or theater company.
As Pig Iron and I discussed what my time with the company would be like, I told them that I would like to be both artistically and administratively involved in the company, and they came back with a proposal that, for one year, and to maximize my time at Pig Iron, I might serve as the company’s Associate Artistic Director.
How could I say no? And so, I said yes, the Princess Grace Foundation said yes, and - ta-da - here I am.
One of the aspects of my grant is that I get the opportunity to direct a small piece for Pig Iron and so we slotted a small cabaret for me to direct in May.
But what was it going to be?! I had some initial impulses – I knew I wanted to make a celebratory play, because it was a celebratory year for me. And I was kinda hooked on the idea of “princesses” in the wake of received an award from the Princess Grace Foundation.
It made me think of a Latin-American phenomenon that I had witnessed as a Cuban-American teenager in Miami – something termed a ‘quinceanera’. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction of Julia Alvarez’ book Once Upon a Quinceanera:
You are dressed in a long, pale pink gown, not sleek and diva-ish, but princessy, with a puffy skirt of tulle and lace that makes you look like you’re floating on air when you appear at the top of the stairs. Your court of fourteen couples has preceded you, and now they line up on the dance floor, forming a walkway through which you will pass to sit on a swing with garlanded ropes, cradling your last doll in your arms. Your mami will crown you with a tiara recessed in a cascade of curls the hairstylist spent most of the afternoon sculpting on your head. Then your papi will replace the flats you are wearing with a pair of silver heels and lead you out to the dance floor, where you will dance a waltz together.
No, you are not Miss
or a princess or an actress playing Cinderella in a Disney movie. In fact, you are not exceptionally beautiful or svelte and tall, model material. Your name is Maria or Xiomara or Maritza or Chantal, and your grandparents came from America or Mexico or Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic. Your family is probably not rich; in fact, your mami and papi have been saving since you were a little girl or they’ve mortgaged the house or lined up forty godparents to help sponsor this celebration, as big as a wedding…. Cuba
What is going on?
You are having your quinceanera, or fiesta de quince anos, or, simply, your quinces. And one day when you are as old as your grandmother and you want to say to some young person, hey, I once was young, too, the expression you will use is Yo tambien tuve mis quinces.
I, too, had my quinces.
A fascinating Latino tradition, a princess celebration, and a touch of amateurness and tackiness. This is the basis of my cabaret, whose title is:
Come to My Awesome Fiesta, It's Going to be Awesome, Okay?
Here are some YouTube videos that suggest what we're going for here:
And, as with all Pig Iron projects, one ingredient is not enough…I’ve got some more inspirations to give this quinces a “Pig Iron” twist. Stay tuned – I’ll be blogging sporadically as new party plans unfold!