By Zack Rogow June 25, 2013
CIIS student Angelica Medina recently appeared in and helped write the collaborative theater production “Our Undocumented Lives,” directed by renowned playwright, poet, and essayist Cherrie Moraga. The show was performed March 9 and 10, 2013 at the Brava Theatre in San Francisco, and then at Stanford University the following week.
“‘Our Undocumented Lives’ grew out of a class that I took with Cherrie Moraga at Stanford University,” Medina recounts. “I took the class as part of my work in the Drama Therapy program at CIIS.”
In Moraga’s class, each student developed a solo performance to dramatize a part of herself or himself that was undocumented. “I did a self-revelatory piece on the theme of machismo,” Medina describes. Self-revelatory performance is a technique of drama therapy developed by CIIS faculty member and Drama Therapy program chair Renee Emunah. “In the theater piece I used a piñata,” Medina explains, “but it was not filled with candy. When I broke the piñata on stage, you could see it contained symbols of machismo: beer cans, boots, a belt.” Medina put on the “macho boots” and embodied machismo, then took off the boots and spoke to them to express her own reactions.
Did embodying machismo in her acting give her new perspectives? “I was able to gain some empathy, and even if it was a tiny bit, that was important for my personal healing,” Medina says. “Having the freedom to express the anger as machismo was also important for me.”
The students turned their solo performances into collaborative works under Moraga’s guidance. The result was a full-length theater piece that sold out its Friday night performance in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.
“Cherrie Moraga talks about bringing to theater the quality of corazón—meaning ‘heart’ in Spanish,” Medina explains. “In working on ‘Our Undocumented Lives’ I saw how having the corazón to do the work that we do as teatristas can bring our community together in struggle. We are all mariposas, flying naturally beyond borders, showing that migration is beautiful.”