Stages Repertory Theatre
Advancing Theatre, Enlivening Culture
October 11 – 29, 2006
Stages’ Arena Theater
By Eduardo Machado
Spanish translation by Alexandra Beech
Directed by Mariana Carreno King
Regional Premiere of THE COOK Combines Local and National Talent
Bilingual cast to perform original English version and Spanish translation commissioned by Stages
(L-R) Annie Henk as Gladys and Rodney Garza as Carlos (Scene: 1958 ) in Stages Repertory Theatre's Production of THE COOK. Gladys (THE COOK) cares for her mistress' Cuban home for 40 years after Castro's revolution forces the aristocracy to flee the country. THE COOK is Now Showing at Stages Theatre at 3201 Allen Parkway, Houston, Texas through end of October, 2006. Call ph.713-527-0123 for tickets and reservations. Photo by Bruce Bennett.
Houston, TX – Stages Repertory Theatre’s 2006 – 2007 season opens with a celebration of Cuban culture and history as a bilingual cast performs Eduardo Machado’s THE COOK both in the original English and in a world premiere Spanish translation. Director Mariana Carreno King and lead actress Annie Henk, both of New York are joined by Rodney Garza of San Antonio, TX and familiar Houston faces Patricia Duran, Ezequiel Guerra, Jr. and Eva De La Cruz. Both Carreno King and Henk have worked with Machado on other projects. THE COOK runs October 11 – 29, 2006 in Stages’ Arena Theater.
THE COOK is Stages’ second bilingual work in four years, following 2002’s landmark production of Federico Garcia’s Lorca’s Blood Wedding / Bodas de Sangre, which also featured Duran and Guerra. “We are so very proud to have commissioned the translations and thus to be the first theatre in the world to produce this play in Spanish,” Stages Managing Director Kenn McLaughlin said. Carreno King comments, “It’s almost like working on two different productions: When you change the language it becomes a whole new play. Even for people who don’t speak Spanish it’s lovely – the poetry is completely different.
Originally produced in 2003 at New York’s INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, THE COOK is the story of Gladys, a young cook who swears to protect her mistress’s Cuban home when the family flees to the U.S. following Castro’s rise to power. For the next 40 years Gladys attempts to keep her promise as the dream of the revolution settles into a troubled reality. Reminiscent of works such as Like Water for Chocolate, the play is permeated with Cuban culture and flavors. The New Yorker called THE COOK “First rate…a shining theatrical experience,” while Newsday raved completely riveting” and the Miami Herald said “Powerful. [The] writing is political and unflinching.”
McLaughlin identifies the play’s elegant simplicity as its most compelling quality. “THE COOK examines a world-changing revolution and explores profound issues of culture, politics and our personal responsibilities to our country – yet it all plays out within the confines of the same kitchen,” he said. Carreno King agrees, “It’s such a great play because it presents so many points of view, and none of them hits you over the head – you have different perspectives and conflicting views within one family, which is like real life,” she said. “It’s great to open up this kind of discussion, especially with everything that’s happening in the world right now.”
Playwright Eduardo Machado, head of the graduate playwriting program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, is the author of more than 27 plays and translations and is the Artistic Director of INTAR.
Now entering its 28th season, Stages Repertory Theatre advances theatre and enlivens culture by introducing world, national and regional premieres of innovative contemporary plays to audiences in Houston and surrounding areas. Stages is a member of the Fresh Arts Coalition, a collaboration of 23 arts organizations that work collectively to raise awareness of the size and diversity of the arts in Houston, and a constituent of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for not-for-profit theatres. Stages Theatre operates under an agreement with Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), the union of professional actors and stage managers in the U.S.
STAGES REPERTORY THEATRE FACT SHEET
by Eduardo Machado, Spanish translation by Alexandra Beech.
DIRECTOR: Mariana Carreno King
ADRIA / LOURDES…………………………….Patricia Duran
JULIO……………………………………………Ezequiel Guerra, Jr.
ELENA / ROSA………………………….………..Eva De La Cruz
(L-R) Ezequiel Guerra Jr. as Julio, Rodney Garza as Carlos and Annie Henk as Gladys as Carlos threatens to turn Julio in to the secret police (Scene: 1972 ) in Stages Repertory Theatre's Production of THE COOK. Gladys (THE COOK) cares for her mistress' Cuban home for 40 years after Castro's revolution forces the aristocracy to flee the country. THE COOK is Now Showing at Stages Theatre at 3201 Allen Parkway, Houston, Texas through end of October, 2006. Call ph.713-527-0123 for tickets and reservations. Photo by Bruce Bennett.
Opening – Friday, October 13, 2006
Close – Sunday, October 29, 2006
TICKETS: $26 - $36
DISCOUNTS: for Students and Seniors are available. Group Discounts also available. Call the Box Office for more information.
BOX OFFICE: Phone 713-527-0123
3201 Allen Parkway near Waugh Drive
Tickets available online at www.stagestheatre.com
Interview with Annie Henk
Starring in the title role of THE COOK
At Stages Repertory Theatre
By Theresa Pisula
October 14, 2006
Annie Henk plays Gladys, THE COOK who cares for her mistress’ Cuban home for 40 years after Castro’s revolution forces the aristocracy to flee the country. Even though she plays the character of THE COOK who lives in Cuba, Annie is of Ecuadorian descent. But I think it’s her New York All-American upbringing that makes her so…..shall we say, expressive?
She is so expressive of her opinions that my hands (literally) hurt after typing up the whole interview. But I loved the play so much and I enjoyed listening to Annie express herself. So I really enjoyed every minute of this whole experience. If you watch THE COOK playing at Stages Theatre through October 2006, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Theresa: Did you do this play in New York?
Annie: I actually wasn’t in the original cast. I know they did this play at INTAR and they did it again at Hartford Stage. I didn’t really know anything about the play except that it was fantastic and everyone loved it. So, when I got a call, I was really excited but I had no idea what to expect.
Theresa: Tell us about the part that you’re playing…
Annie: I play Gladys, THE COOK. It’s so hard to articulate, how can I say it without giving away too much? She is this unbelievable presence in this home. Through this part, through what she does, because of who she is, she weaves an unbelievable story throughout the decades. She’s a cook but she’s so much more than that. She’s this woman who holds onto values and the tradition and yet is much more modern than what she leads on. She’s ahead of her time in a lot of ways. Her lines are incredible, the emancipation of the female. She is this unbelievable character. And I love that there’s, for me at least, this metaphor of cooking and playing with time. And when you’re preparing something and trying to make it just right, you really don’t have control of a recipe. It’s all very relative. She’s become so many things and she’s become so many metaphors. It’s such a complex character in a very complex place.
Theresa: Have you met the playwright?
Annie: Yes, that’s Eduardo Machado. I met him when they originally did THE COOK, around that time because I was involved with INTAR every now and then, where it was originally produced. (Mr. Machado is the Artistic Director of INTAR Theatre in NYC). And then I was actually called in to be a reader and assist with the call-backs for the auditions for Hartford so I became familiar with him and somewhat familiar with the play but not really. The irony is, that once he took over as Artistic Director at the Institute and I’ve worked there a couple of times, several people have been invited to come back and participate in a workshop for actors, playwrights and directors in an open forum. And I’ve been doing that now for a couple of months with Eduardo. So this is a treat for me to be here to serve the play. I never would have expected to be doing his work.
Theresa: So how long ago was this when you actually came in contact with this play THE COOK?
Annie: The day I boarded the plane (Laughs).
Theresa: The plane to Houston, you mean? Oh wow.
Annie: Two weeks ago, literally. The irony is, I know the casting director that was casting The Hartford Connecticut Theatre cast and they asked me to come on in and just be a reader just for the call-back. Back then, I had no idea I was going to do anything with THE COOK, I was just helping the casting director. And the irony also is they asked me at the very end of the auditions, to please read and possibly audition for the other character Rosa (the Elena / Rosa character). I felt miserable because I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t expect to meet him. I didn’t expect to audition at that moment because they gave me five minutes. (Laughs) I mean, literally, he didn’t even remember me from back then. But now we come full circle, I mean, playing Gladys is an honor.
Theresa: She is such a great character. I really identified with her. I began to look at myself and how much I’ve changed through the years. This play is really amazing, I really loved it.
Annie: I think each character touches everybody differently. Everyone can relate to something even within the same character. Some of the things that we say are sometimes contradictory and the way we think is complex and you really try to understand through his work that he’s an incredible writer. You try to understand everybody’s side. He struggles with what people feel and why they feel it. We’ve had people crying and it’s just an amazing journey for me. And to tell that story and of course they relate in so many other levels. But this is how other people are moved by it and really moved by his words. And we’ve had a very diverse audience. I wasn’t really sure what the audience was going to be here in Houston. I thought that maybe because it was a Latin-themed play, maybe we would only get a Latino community audience. It was really great to see a more diverse audience. All ages, I mean it was really great to see. Everyone was touched.
Theresa: Are you of Cuban descent?
Annie: No, actually I’m born and raised in New York City and my parents are Ecuadorian. I lived in Miami for 10 years so that gave me a lot of insight.
Theresa: Yeah, there are a lot of Cubans in Miami.
Theresa: Tell us about your past background, your past acting experience. How did you get started in this field?
Annie: I’ve been doing this now almost 10 years professionally. I was on a different path. And actually, what’s even more irony is, cut through 10 years ago I was living in Miami.
Theresa: What were you doing?
Annie: I was working in the corporate world at a bank and I was on the management track, married, with a child and a house and the dog and the car. And a friend of mine, actually my best friend from childhood, who I haven’t been in touch with for many years, we found each other once again. I realized that she has been studying theatre and directing a film and I was still sort of never trying to let go of it. I would take workshops on the side try to get involved as much as I could in the Arts. She gave me the right of way for Christmas, this cassette, which is so funny, a cassette which was made of this musical RENT. And a friend of mine, who was working with me at Merrill Lynch at the time actually, we’ve become close because I realized that he was ill. And it was out of the fact that he had full-blown AIDS. And I’m from New York. So, it’s a much more progressive town. And it’s so much easier to be open and to say, I took a chance and I took an effort, I think highly of you and I think I can probably help you. Once my best friend gave me the Artist’s way and RENT and I realized that life is short.
And then I got to meet Vega who’s this incredible actor in this amazing role who looks like me and sounds like me. And I thought, what kind of musical could I possibly be in? You know, what would I ever do? And someone who has all that, all those complexities and all that, all that talent and I thought, this is incredible. And then he died, my friend Chuck. And I think that was pivotal for me. Because that’s when I pretty much decided that I’m going to do what I want to do. And I have to at least try. My son was back in 1987, he was maybe 3. And I thought there’s nothing better than to set an example and he’ll grow up and understand that I chose to do something and tried it and I’m going to set an example and teach him that way. And I started doing some small theatres in Miami but I made a pact with myself that if I got hired to do a tour, the Coconut Grove Playhouse which is a small, almost an old school, literally. Sure I was acting in roles in the lower rungs of the ladder but I was just so thrilled to make the audition and possibly get this. But I thought that if I get this job (with the theatre), I will quit my job (with the bank). I had my savings, I had a retirement account I had it all. So, I thought, Okay, I showed up for the audition, they had no idea of course that I was planning this in my head. And they hired me on the spot. They said, “This is not usual, we don’t normally do this but we want to make sure you’re free. What are you doing for the next 8 months in your life? And literally, that’s when I said, “Well I gotta tell you, you just changed my life.” So I made a pact I’m gonna go back and tell my boss I’m resigning. And they (the theatre) said “We don’t pay a lot and we don’t have insurance.” I said, “No, this is what I want to do.”
Theresa: (Laughs) this is what I want to do…awesome!
Annie: And that was it. And literally, Judith Delgado who was the Director of Education of Coconut Grove Playhouse at the time has since moved to New York and we’ve become the closest of friends and she is part of the inspiration and part of my mentorship. And literally, cut to 10 years later, this is what I’m doing. What I love more than anything. I don’t do anything else and I think that’s why I can do it because I CHOSE. And people can see the difference.
Theresa: So you got your start at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.
Annie: I think they may have closed recently due to something that happened with the board members and I think the decision was to close the doors. And looking back now, when I read that at first, I thought, “What an honor that I got to be at the Coconut Grove Playhouse at the time of those years in my life.”
(L-R) Ezequiel Guerra Jr. as Julio and Annie Henk as Gladys (Scene: 1972 ) in Stages Repertory Theatre's Production of THE COOK. Gladys (THE COOK) cares for her mistress' Cuban home for 40 years after Castro's revolution forces the aristocracy to flee the country. THE COOK is Now Showing at Stages Theatre at 3201 Allen Parkway, Houston, Texas through end of October, 2006. Call ph.713-527-0123 for tickets and reservations. Photo by Bruce Bennett.
Theresa: You continue to be an actor in New York?
Annie: The thought did occur to me at the time. I have family in New York and I have roots in New York so I thought, “Well I have nothing to lose.” I’d already given my job several months of notice which is plenty of notice. So I left over the summer. And I was encouraged to go back to New York and so I thought I’d stay with my family and eat humble pie at this age and you know, go back and take full blown classes and I took a whole summer of coaching with an incredible acting coach and mentor Susan Grace Cohen who was also pivotal. I think I was very lucky and I got very encouraged. People who I respected and people who I looked up to said you can do this. And my acting coach said, “Don’t go back to Florida when you do this. You’re gonna stay here and you’re gonna work. Trust me.”
Theresa: So you didn’t find it difficult getting jobs as an actor?
Annie: Originally, the irony is, and this is what I love about this play also is that the complexities of growing up as an American, actually. And growing up, I was born in New York, I was raised in New York and whenever I lived in Miami and whenever I went out, I’ve always felt like an American especially in Miami. You know, because literally it was like being in a whole other cultural Mecca which is incredible in itself. But I felt like an American and I felt almost like an outsider in the community. When I came back to New York, you know I’ve never really experienced any discrimination, you know I look very ethnic. I’ve never changed - my real last name is Henk, that’s my dad’s name, it’s easy to say and I decided to keep it.
Theresa: Henk is an Ecuadorian name?
Annie: No, actually it’s German, more of the complexities of our cultures. It’s from my great grand-father who is German. When I first came back to New York, I thought of myself as an American actor. So I started auditioning, I was pretty bold because coming from a corporate background, I felt like everybody I was meeting was my colleague or my equal. I honestly thought, “What am I losing? I’m just gonna go out there and tell everybody that I have a good attitude, I’m gonna work my butt off.” And this was my motto: Just trust me, I will work really hard, you know? I would go around to these large theatre companies, Atlanta Theatre Companies, Clearlake Theatre Companies, Roundabout and I would audition for all these people and I would always get great feedback like, “Nice work that was really nice.” But I’d never get a call. Sometimes I’d get a call-back and would get encouraged with my abilities with my perseverance but for some reason I wasn’t getting anything and one day, I just got really frustrated and I went back to my Acting coach, my mentor and I did this other monologue that I’d found in this one book of monologues. And I thought this is interesting, and I don’t really remember how or why I picked this – it could have been because it was a Hispanic name. It could have been because it was an interesting dramatic piece. And I did it and it was different and the room was silent for awhile. And she said, “Where did you get that?” I said, in this monologue. She said, “That’s you. That is for you – why did you choose that?” And I said, “’Cause I was really tired of not getting anywhere.” So I think I have to embrace myself and re-think this whole thing:
I AM A PRODUCT. I AM AN ACTOR and I look a certain way and I can’t get around that. And I have all these things inside, I’m cultural and ethnic. And I need to embrace that and I’m going to audition for the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre and I’m going to audition for INTAR and I’m going to embrace those cultures and the culture that I know. And once I did that, I literally in six months I landed my first Off-Broadway show. At the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre which was an honor. As soon as I started embracing the fact that I was bilingual, I became a voice-over artist. All those things that I never realized that I needed to embrace, I just thought they were there. So, the irony of living as a cross-cultural individual in this country which you don’t really appreciate or know until it crosses your path.
Theresa: (Laughs) what’s always been a part of who you are has actually given you better opportunities as an actor. Have you always been bilingual, ever since as a child?
Annie: I spoke it mostly broken until I was about 15 and I really had to start focusing on expressing myself and trying to speak the language better because I couldn’t express myself well and I was very frustrated about that. But there’s a large Colombian community in the neighborhood I grew up in Queens. I kinda got tired being on the fringes and being made fun of. And literally, they would call me “Oooh, that Americana.” And I would say, “What?” you know. And I couldn’t express myself and they would make fun of me because I would say broken Spanish words. It was very frustrating so finally, I worked on that until I became completely fluent. Because I could, I had the ear for it, I knew it, I could understand it, I could read it and I could write it. I just couldn’t really speak it articulately.
Theresa: But then you got better…
Annie: Yeah, yeah, over the years. And then Miami helped tremendously. I never realized that you could use a language. I didn’t realize that you could grow up, I mean. You know I studied French in school. I didn’t realize that you should embrace all those other things. One of my first interviews at Merrill Lynch was in Spanish.
Theresa: Oh wow.
Annie: I was almost offended. I thought “This is almost offensive.” But then I realized I was working in an international bank and a lot of clients were speaking Spanish from all over the world. So, I realized there’s a value in it. And then it just got better over the years.
Theresa: So, you’re doing this play THE COOK in both Spanish and English?
Theresa: Which do you prefer?
Annie: Gosh, it’s funny because I’ve done several productions like this. The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, we also do the same play both in Spanish and in English. And I never really have a preference. What it is – is that it’s very different and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to experience. I think it’s almost like having two different children. You know, you can’t have a favorite.
Theresa: Do you feel you express yourself better in Spanish since the play is set in Cuba?
Annie: I think I tend to feel some of the expressions more. There’s something in the body language, you know when you go up with another culture there’s something that automatically becomes familiar. And it’s true with English of course because I know the culture. It’s in the body, but there’s something about when you go into your language. You know it may not have been my first, but it’s my language. There’s something different in the body, there’s something different in the palette, there’s something in your hands. All of a sudden, your hands start to move a little bit more. The rhythm, the rhythm changes, everything, there’s something and its fun – it’s a lot of fun. It really is beautiful in Spanish as well some of the words are beautiful in Spanish. And you find that anytime you do two languages. You just wish you could sort of take one word that’s there (in Spanish) and say (it in English) that they’re equally beautiful even though they’re different.
Theresa: Who are your most favorite actors?
Annie: That’s a good question because I struggle with that constantly. Because of course, I think all the time, several years ago I would say Merryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and I find her incredible. But I’ve been struggling that if I would find a role model and if I would want to emulate someone, I never thought of just anyone. My son was recently doing West Side Story at school and we watched the move and I said, “Oh my gosh Rita Moreno!”
Theresa: (Laughs) I know, isn’t she wonderful?
Annie: And Chita Rivera, of course! These were the women with all the spiciness. And I watch Rita and she works, just works. And that’s all I want. People ask me, “Don’t you want to do this other thing?” I don’t! I really truly, truly, truly love what I do. And I’m just happy to work. Give me character and I just want to work. And Rita – she just kept working through the years and she’s amazing. She’s always present, she’s always there. She’s a woman who did it! I thought about that a lot. A lot of my role models are mostly of people whom I’ve grown accustomed to seeing. And what we see on television and what we see in the movies are not really representative of what we really are as a country and the world. And it’s frustrating, very frustrating.
Theresa: Did you find it hard to memorize all the lines for THE COOK in such a short period of time?
Annie: Yes, I did because it was just two weeks. In
general, you really don’t want to have a short rehearsal process. You really
want to let it, and this is funny because I don’t mean any pun by this, but you
really want to let something cook. You really need something to simmer. It was
tough because when I read it, I sat on that plane, I took a leap of faith and I
said YES because I know the director, I’ve known her for many years. We did our
first Off-Broadway show together. I trust her and when I spoke with Kenn
(McLaughlin) I told him, “I’m gonna do this.” I really want to serve in
Eduardo’s play. And I love Eduardo and I really wanted to do a good job. You
know, I want to be
Gladys. And not knowing who Gladys was, I didn’t realize she was the lead until I got on the plane and I opened my script. I said, “What did I do?” And then I continued to read, “Oh my God, she’s never off-stage!” and in two languages. But I’ve done it before I’ve replaced another actor in New York with 2 weeks notice, in two languages. So I thought I can do this. But it wasn’t the lead and it wasn’t Eduardo’s play. Here I am working with him and I thought this is a huge responsibility. The other actors who’s always been working so hard and I’m huge on getting the word right and making sure that I’m not paraphrasing and making sure that that playwright’s word was served, because it’s all about the play. Literally, it’s about those words and every scene that the playwright put down on paper means something. And to dissect that takes time, to feel that in your body, to feel that in your bones takes time and I was really, really nervous about serving at the highest level possible. And doing the best that I could do it, I just tried to pull it off. Toward the second week, I thought I’m gonna die. I’m gonna be physically ill.
Theresa: (Laughs) you did great! You did really well. I loved it, I loved the play. When you actually spoke to Eduardo, did he give you any pointers about the character?
Annie: You know, I’m not sure and it’s funny because Gladys constantly says “I have my pride.” First of all, I’m supposed to be in a rehearsal with him at 6:30 that evening and I was so busy I forgot to call. So I called in the next morning to say, “Megan (his assistant) just so you know, you probably already know what this phone call is about but I won’t be in rehearsal tonight. I’m going to Houston to do the play.” And she said, “It is okay, he’s just happy that you’re doing it.” And that’s all I needed to hear.
Theresa: Oh my gosh…
Annie: I really wanted to hear that he was okay with it. And literally, we were doing a very important workshop at the time at INTAR and I had to leave that to come here. The process was so quick that literally, I jumped into rehearsal and I never had time to breathe. I don’t have a laptop, I didn’t have time to e-mail anyone and I didn’t have time to sit down and talk to him. And I wasn’t sure if I should call him and get everything I could or if I step up to the challenge and really give it everything I have. And try to serve him based on my own instincts. Because you don’t always get the privilege of talking to a playwright so I wonder whether or not I should call him. I’m happy I think, I do wish I’d spoken to him because I love Eduardo. And the insight this man has, and the wisdom and the intelligence and just his words. To sit around him and listen to him speak, he’s so inspiring and real and honest. And sometimes, brutally honest that I do wish sometimes that I’d spoken to him and I think he would have given me so much. And then I think, my instincts were right, maybe he would just say to just follow my instincts.
Theresa: Well, he communicates to you through the play, actually.
Annie: And that’s the thing, the words are so incredible that even through rehearsal, there’s really never a time that I can’t feel what’s happening. I mean, it’s so hard for me to get to the end of that play and keep it together enough to get the words out. I really have to take this breath sometimes because it’s the words that take my breath away. It’s unbelievable to hear some of the things that you’re saying and sometimes I’m in awe. I feel his words. And everybody on stage feels it.
I have to say that the actors in this production have been nothing but kind and ridiculously hard working. It’s a small contract and they would leave rehearsals tired and leave there exhausted. As you can see the play is very, very active and the spirits are high all the time and the energy is always there. And we would leave at 10:30 at night, it didn’t matter and they would still meet me after hours and work with me so that I would get my lines. And in the morning when they would pick me up, they would work with me. They never complained. I said, “Please, if you have a minute, just show up and I’ll be happy to have you.” And literally, they did. They’ve been working their butts off. If I could say that about the lines because I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in for Preview Night if it hadn’t been for them.
(R-L) Ezequiel Guerra Jr. as Julio and Annie Henk as Gladys (Scene: 1972 ) in Stages Repertory Theatre's Production of THE COOK. Gladys (THE COOK) cares for her mistress' Cuban home for 40 years after Castro's revolution forces the aristocracy to flee the country. THE COOK is Now Showing at Stages Theatre at 3201 Allen Parkway, Houston, Texas through end of October, 2006. Call ph.713-527-0123 for tickets and reservations. Photo by Bruce Bennett.
Theresa: How did you work with the director Mariana Carreno King?
Annie: She’s a playwright as well and an actor. I met her around the same time that I’d come to New York and I was starting to get into the small circle of Latin community. I don’t want to make it sound like there’s a small Latin circle, but I was trying to break into that. And I thought I should support the theatre and all this work. But I read this play and it was hysterical. It was a dark hysterical comedy called Night of the Cat sitter. I wanted it so bad but I had to leave the audition, I couldn’t wait and they were behind and it was running so late and I just dropped off my picture and said, “Please if you have any chance you can call me for the callbacks, give me a call but I gotta go.” And I didn’t get it and I sat there and I watched the play and I loved it so much that I spoke to the director after and I said, “I think this play is hysterical, who is this playwright?” And he said Mariana. We headed for the bathroom, we had a half hour conversation in the bathroom about life and politics and religion and relationships and acting and playwriting and following your dreams and we clicked! And then cut to 2 months later, we both ended up in our first Off-Broadway show together. And since then I’ve done other plays, Pitahayas (Screaming Venus Festival) I also did for her. She’s an incredible playwright also. It’s almost been 7 years now since that time. So, for us it’s been cathartic, it’s been a cathartic experience to open that show because I was really emotional about the whole thing, me putting my trust in her and her putting her trust in me. Just to pull it off, we really had to trust each other and we closed our eyes and took a leap. And we literally were calling ourselves Thelma and Louise. Because she came in late in the process as well and she took a leap of faith and last night it was really cathartic, I just looked at her and hugged her – We did this! We pulled it off. And I was just so happy that we really, really pulled it off.
Theresa: What would you like the audience to gain from watching this play?
Annie: Anybody that watches this play will gain something from it. The words are so important. I just think that if people just come with an open mind and see for themselves, I just want to listen to the words. And then after they realize it by the end of the play, they’ve been taken on this unbelievable journey. Because that’s what happens to us on stage, Eduardo’s words take us. I really, really believe that, whether or not they gain something I think they’ll feel moved or changed in some way or relate to someone or empathize with someone or think a little bit more about religion or politics with an open mind. You see everybody’s side in this play, the complexity of life and it makes you go out and think of your own complexities.
Theresa: My husband and I were talking Cuban politics after the play. Is Eduardo Cuban?
Theresa: And the director?
Annie: Mariana is Mexican.
Theresa: And I’m Filipino. We’re all from different countries. It’s very interesting. I loved it. I encourage everyone to watch the play because it’s gonna be here for a couple of weeks.
Annie: Isn’t that sad? We’re done in two weeks, I can’t believe it.
Theresa: That’s okay, it was really an eye-opening experience for me and it made me think about going back and discovering my past and my roots, where I come from.
Annie: I’m grateful just to be here, I really am. I’m just thankful just to be able to express myself, about my experience, it’s pretty surreal.