La Egoista, winner of the 2022 National Latine Playwrights Award, will make its world premiere at Actor’s Theater. It will run from February 8-19 at Actor’s Theater. Two performances with Spanish captions are available on Sunday, February 12, and Thursday, February 16. There are student and educator nights on Wednesdays.
Amelia Acosta Powell, the Impact Producer & Co-Director of Artistic Programming at the Actors Theatre of Louisville tell us about the play.
Manuel Medina (MM) Tell us about La Egoísta.
La Egoista is a world premiere dramedy play by Erlina Ortiz, which will premiere at Actors Theatre of Louisville February 8-19. The play is about two Dominican-American sisters. Josefina is a rising stand-up comic, an irreverent spirit who takes nothing seriously. Her religious younger sister Betsaida, on the other hand, takes everything seriously. When an illness upends Betsaida’s life and Josefina becomes her caregiver, they’re thrown together to rediscover all the history and humor, friction and affection that still fuel their relationship. La Egoista explores the bond between sisters, the cost of caregiving, and the hilariously fine line between selfish and selfless.
MM: Why should the public come and watch it?
I find that comedy is a wonderfully effective tool with which to broach complex, nuanced, and difficult conversations. The public should come see it to explore ideas around family, faith, and health in a way that is really fun, cathartic, and joyful.
The play has a Spanish title, but the performance is in English. Additionally, you will present it twice with Spanish subtitles. Tells us about your decision regarding linguistics choices.
(MM) The play is in English as it is written from the perspective of Americanized Latina sisters who grew up in the Philadelphia area with their Dominican mother. Reflecting the reality of the first generation experience, their linguistic world blends English (the language they must use to navigate their careers, the healthcare system, etc) as well as Spanish (the language in which their mother would scold them). It was important to us at Actors Theatre of Louisville to make the production as accessible as possible for Latino audiences, including those who only or primarily speak Spanish. So, there are closed captioned performances offered with the choice to view captions in English or Spanish. The Spanish title La Egoista comes from a line in the play – no spoilers, so folks will have to come see it understand fully!
(MM) How does the play fit within the US Latino theater scene? Does it follow trends? Does it attempt to innovate and move it forward?
The US Latino theater scene is wonderfully diverse, with so much amazing work happening. That said, I think La Egoista is unique because the play is really pushing the boundaries of the form. It draws from stand-up comedy as well as from puppetry, and even involves some audience participation. I find it’s rare for “mainstream” or historically white institutions to center comedic Latino stories, so bringing in the stand-up element is really exciting to me. La Egoista also bravely explores subjects that are often taboo and perhaps under discussed in the theatre, including faith and the loss thereof and the nitty gritty of chronic illness and caretaking for a chronically ill loved one.
(MM) Elaborate about your role at Actor’s Theater. Are you a Latina director or a director who happens to be Latina?
I serve as the Impact Producer and Co-Director of Artistic Programming at Actors Theatre of Louisville. My role is multi-hyphenate, giving me the opportunity to produce and direct plays, and also to foster relationships and cultivate community. I think being an artist — whether you’re a director, a performer, a writer, or any other kind of artist – inherently involves bringing your full humanity and intersectional identity to the table. Anywhere I go, anything I do, I carry my ancestry and my experiences with me. And directing or storytelling through any artistic medium is a practice that beautifully embraces the complexity of my human experience. So I don’t know if that answers the question, but my work as a director is absolutely informed by my identity as a Latina, as a Jewish person, as a queer person, as a woman.
(MM) How do you plan to reach out to the community?
Actors Theatre of Louisville is only one of the many wonderful organizations that support Louisville’s flourishing. So, by partnering with organizations aligned with our values (Teatro Tercera Llamada, La Casita Center, Americana Center, LLEO, and UofL LALS, for example) we learn more about how we can support our peers and be supported in return for the mutual benefit the greater community. We offer student and educator nights on Wednesdays during each production to provide greater access to low-cost tickets. We offer closed-captioning twice during each production. We have opportunities for other non-profit organizations to table in our lobby and share their information with our constituents.
(MM) What should Louisville audiences expect from direct Amelia Acosta Powell in upcoming seasons?
I hope that Louisville audiences will experience a broad variety of work from me, as I love to tell all kinds of stories. I center joy, comedy, and Latin identity every chance I have!
Amelia Acosta Powell (she/her) is the Impact Producer & Co-Director of Artistic Programming at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Previously she has been honored to serve as Associate Artistic Director at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Line Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Artistic Associate & Casting Director at Arena Stage. Most recent directing work includes La Egoista world premiere (upcoming), Every Brilliant Thing, The Gradient world premiere and The Thanksgiving Play (nominated for Outstanding Director of a Comedy, St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards). She is a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons, a member of the Casting Society of America, an inaugural grantee of TCG’s Rising Leaders of Color, and a proud alumna of the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship. Her teaching credits include serving as adjunct faculty at Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts. She is originally from Denver and holds her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees from Georgetown University. Read about her passion for Latine comedy on Howlround en https://howlround.com/best-medicine-why-we-need-2022-ltc-comedy-carnaval.
Cristina Fernández is an accomplished actor, writer and translator with a fierce commitment to accessibility and inclusivity. She has contributed her localization expertise to Chicago Med (NBC), OxyArts at Occidental College, DQ World video games, Los Angeles Performance Practice and El Verde comic book.
Combining her Latiné background with her love of language, Cristina is expert at crafting compelling narrative and dramatic translations to create engaging, culturally relevant content to reach local and international audiences.
Cristina is currently working on a film for the Sundance Feature Film Development, and the La Egoista premiere at Actors Theatre of Louisville. She is excited to bring her contribution to this vital programming for TV, film and theater.
Erlina Ortiz (playwright) is a Dominican-American playwright, performer, and theatre maker from Reading, PA. Her heartfelt and humorous plays ranging from topics of gentrification, women’s rights, and cultural preservation have been presented with Power Street Theatre in Philadelphia where she is proud to be Co-Artistic Director. In Fall 2021 her play Young Money premiered at Azuka Theatre and went on to receive the national ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award Citation and in 2022 her new musical Siluetas was selected for the O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference. Erlina believes being an artist is a superpower, she believes in using her powers for good. www.erlinaortiz.com
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