I am sitting in a cafe called The Workshop. It's pretty a innovative, huge space with workspaces specifically tailored to being productive. I'm half asleep to be honest, and hoping my coffee kicks in soon. These last two days have been insanely busy and filled with amazing experiences. FULL STOP.
I need to mention something first before I continue. Yesterday, the (not my) President of these Divided states took the next step in creating his deplorable America by imposing a ban on Muslims and refugees from entering the country. I didn't mean for this blog to get political (haha), but I am so filled with fear and disgust right now that I can't help to make it clear that while I had a lovely time in San Francisco these last two days, my enjoyment has been continually scarred by disturbing news updates. I've spent the last 30 minutes frantically texting my boyfriend asking him what our plan is if war breaks out, and Googling:
Will Chinese declare war on U.S?
How did the Germans resist Hitler?
War survival kit.
Amongst other things...
I am privileged. I was not one of the families detained at JFK today after what was likely months or years of preparing the paperwork and paying the fees. I am not the woman who attempted suicide today when she was detained for fear of returning to her home country where her fate was likely worse. I am not an undocumented human. But I could be. I could be.
So, I fretted and took the first step, I cancelled my Netflix subscription. I signed up to send those $10s a month to the ACLU and you should too!
That's what I can do for now.
Day 5 and 6.
Tour of the 415.
After another complicated night of sleep (my cold has turned into a terrible cough!) I let myself sleep in a little before meeting up with a local theatre-maker named Paul Flores. We met up at Cafe La Boheme in the The Mission. A local spot that has been around for many years and carries a deep and complicated history. Paul's work is very locally oriented and politically motivated. He told me about his plays have dealt with gentrification in The Mission, a historically Latinx neighborhood that has recently become overrun with techies from Silicon Valley driving up the prices and pushing out the residents. You know how gentrification goes.
Thankfully, it seems like in some ways San Fran has progressed a bit to combat this phenomenon by declaring The Mission a historically protected area. If your Taqueria has been there for a certain amount of years it is illegal to push you out. So, many of the salons and taco spots are protected, though the actual residents who used to frequent these locals are becoming few and far between.
Paul has also worked on a piece about Alex Nieto. Alex's story will sound familiar to you. He was a young man taking a break from his job as a security guard when someone called the police on him for looking suspicious. Within seconds of the police's arrival Alex was shot down with FIFTY-NINE bullets. 59. For one man holding a burrito and minding his business. Alex Nieto has become a bit of symbol for the neighborhood and their are multiple murals throughout the city dedicated to him. https://justice4alexnieto.org/alex-story/
My fabulous tour guide Dorothy Martinez of Teatro Campesino (among a million other credits) met up with me after my lunch with Paul and we walked around all of The Mission and checked out the amazing murals and graffiti that have made the neighborhood a tourist destination. I loved walking around and smelling the papusas and hearing the mergengue playing. Here are some of my favorite shots.
I am currently re-working a play of mine called MinorityLand which deals with the issues of Gentrification in North Philadelphia, so I felt like my San Francisco Friday was perfectly tailored for this research.
The show was HILARIOUS. Y'all. I laughed until tears streamed down my face, and then the tears turned into actual crying because some of the stories being told were seriously depressing.
The one that sticks out the most was the story of a family that owned a Pin~ata shop which was burned down only to be replaced by a cat cafe. -___- The interview with the woman who owned the shop was heartbreaking, "Why?" She said, "Why take away my life?"
This video was followed by a sketch about the cats from the cat cafe feeling badly that their new home took away the home of the previous owners. It was absurd and delightful and painful. Just as theatre should be.
I got back home around 1030pm, and slept (COUGH) not so great. But hey, that's sort of become a staple of my travels. Today was more relaxed. Dorothy and I met up and went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art which was lovely.
I do have to say though that I found the murals in the mission more interesting than most of what the Modern Art Museum had to offer.
I was particularly put off by the Carl Andre exhibit which ties directly into the musical I am working on right now about Ana Mendieta. Quick catch up. Ana Mendieta was a Cuban American Feminist Artist who 'fell' to her death in the 70s. The only witness at the time was her husband Carl Andre. He was tried, and acquitted. Of course. They had Carl's work on display but not Ana's. OF COURSE. Oh the injustices just seem to pile on top of each other don't they?
Anywayyy... I had a lot of thoughts about the San Francisco theatre/artist community. I think there are a lot of things that this city is doing right, and that Philly could take note of. The Latinx Theatre community seems really tight, and not just theatre but the artist community in general. Everyone is multi talented, and wherever we went we seemed to run into someone from the art world. In Philly my home company Power Street is the ONLY Latinx run company, and there seems to be very little intermingling of the different arts communities. I have to reflect a little bit more on that, and what my role can be in ameliorating that issue. I have a lot of ideas, hopefully the resources will be there to make them come into fruition. Stay tuned...
Tomorrow A.M I head back to the train! Oh boy... Time to head back. Wish me luck!