Personal Impressions – The AJT Conference in St Louis, MO

by Miryam Madrigal

I rarely attend conferences. But I could not keep myself away from the theme of Judaism andMulticulturalism. Besides, an 8 minute section of myplay, “Marrying In,” was being performed. I had to be there.

Impressions? I felt like a fish out of water. For the most part, I consider myself an introvert, I’m used to working alone and sharing my work-in-progress with a few trusted friends. So, to be in a room full of people that I don’t know well was a shtickel uncomfortable.

Secondly, everything in my world is Jewish: my bakery, my super market, my neighborhood, my artist group, and my writing group. I cover my hair, I observe Jewish laws of kashrut and Shabbat. Basically, I’ve identified as an orthodox Jew for 25 years and even so in a room full of Jewish theatre artists, I felt disconnected. This prompted me to reexamine my Jewish identity.

Ironically, it takes a Jewish conference to get two LATINX theater women together. I met one of the panelists, Anna Skidis Vargas, Artistic Director for Theater Nuevo. Within a 10 minute conversation, she asked if I had “anything,” which is code for “a play.” In my hotel room, I hustled to send a crazy ten-minute play about Mexican Red Riding Hood to her. (Originally, I had written it at the Kennedy Center during the Summer Writing Intensive.) In it, Little Roja outsmarts the devilish wolf and blows him away with her diamond studded pistol. Now that’s a Mexican girl saving herself! She loved it!

This summer Theatre Nuevo is producing “Never Mess with a Mexican Girl: A Cautionary Fable,” as part of their Orgullo festival. I’ll be out in St. Louis again this summer.

Will I attend the AJT proposed conference in Boston? Yes, I plan on it. I look forward to it. It’s one of the healthiest things I have done for myself and my creative work.

I would like to thank Yoni Oppenheim for telling me about the conference; thank you to Theatre 24/6 for doing closed readings of my play, “Marrying In.” And, thank you to Ralph and Jordana for reading “Kosher with Salsa.” Ralph’s comments were very astute and appreciated.