Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

My work is border fluid. It exists on a plane with my ancestors and is steeped in a deep tradition that crosses multiple cultures from the Spanish castles of Avila, to the pyramids of Tenochtitlan, to the wild cactus of the Texas brush where in a dark deserted cinema I tasted the lips of my first lover and understood that the truths I’d been sold as a child were fallacy. My plays and musicals question the artificial borders we have laid down across gender and culture, comedy and trauma, and all genres of music though the use of characters who desperately want to be validated.

Validation is something I have had to relinquish myself from ever receiving in order to survive in a world where I have been asked, like most of you, to fit into a category that already exists. Instead I choose to commit the crime of simply existing as who I am. I choose to write the stories of gay and Latinx people so that those who come after me don’t have to question their own right to exist.

Take for example the young, undocumented, hero at the heart of the searing, satirical, comedy, Manuel Vs the Statue of Liberty. He has been told by the government that he has no home in the United States despite having contributed to it his entire life. He dreams that one day he won’t have to hide anymore. He simply wants to be seen. Yet in order to get what he wants, he will have to step into a real-life boxing ring with the 225 ton mammoth of steel, Lady Liberty - a genderqueer rock ‘n roll version of herself. The musical naturally maneuvers from Latin rhythms to rap and hip-hop to glam rock to soaring Broadway ballads because the world that I grew up in always did the same.

On the other side of the spectrum is Johnny, the antihero at the center of a troubling incident between an ICE agent and an immigrant he has been tasked with deporting in my play Aztec Pirates & the Insignificance of Life on Mars. When Johnny realizes that the orders he has been following have in fact been doing harm he embarks on an odyssey to somehow justify them. What unfolds is an inner struggle between identity, race, and privilege. Likewise my play Animal Husbandry studies the grey areas between wanton desires and consent in a campy, comic, gay, bedroom drama about a May/December romance. Danny wants the validation that his father never gave him and searches for it in Gerry an older man who can’t give it to him. Santa fetishes and leather jokes aside, the play delves into the idea that the pasts they have been trying to forget have shaped them into who they are today, scars and all.

My musicals and plays exist in a taboo stratum between Texas and Mexico on a border with no wall; and just as I have always existed in a chasm between my Latino traditions and American pop culture, rock ‘n roll and classical, femininity and machismo, devout Catholicism and disbelief. It may be hard to put my work into a simple category but if I accomplish what I have set out to; people would stop trying to.