Brava Open House & Fiesta de las Américas

Artwork by @rioyanez

Artwork by @rioyanez

This Sunday, September 17, Brava joins Calle 24 and the Latino Cultural District in bringing Fiesta de las Américas back to the Mission! From 11am - 5pm, the 24th Street corridor will be alive with dance, music, food, and family friendly activities! Las Fiestas de Las Américas celebrates the culture, arts and music found from Patagonia to the Arctic Circle, with particular focus to the Latino diaspora who have made San Francisco their home for generations.

During the Festival, make your way down to Brava at 24th and York for a full day of music and dance. AND, stop in for a sneak peek of our newly renovated storefront spaces! After years of fundraising and planning, the renovations on the spaces are nearly complete. The new spaces boast a state of the art cabaret, offices for Brava's expanding staff and other neighborhood nonprofits, and dressing rooms and shower facilities for performers!  

Did you know:

  • The first people to live on the land that is today known as The MIssion District were the Yelamu people part of the Ohlone nation that inhabitied the entire area that is now Northern California.
  • The Mission houses the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco, the Mission San Francisco de Asís, the little white "church" on Dolores and 16th.
  • Between 1838 and 1841, the population of Yelamu fell from 400 to 50 people. Between 2001 and 2011, The Mission's Latino population fell by 20%.

Pablo Menéndez: Musician, Ambassador, Son


On Saturday, October 14, Brava presents the live concert Direct from Cuba featuring Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla plus a screening of the documentary film Tan Cerca... Tan Lejos / So Near... So Far which reflects on Pablo Menéndez’ journey and his life story as a “musical bridge” between the United States and Cuba. This historic evening will also feature a special performance by Menéndez' mother, the legendary singer Barbara Dane, who was the first public person to defy the State Department ban on travel to Cuba after the 1959 Revolution and sang all over the island, on televisions, newsreels and on the front page of the newspapers, making her a symbol of the possibilities of friendship between the US and Cuba.  

In the interview below, Pablo talks about his mother's legacy and his life as an artist in Cuba.

Brava brings trio of Latin performances to the stage this fall

Mezcla high rez.jpg

This fall, Brava presents a trio of performances by Latin American artists at Brava Theater Center. The presentations include a wide range of events, from the documentary film So Near... So Far, about the Cuban musician and Mezcla founder Pablo Menéndez, to a Day of the Dead opera from the other side. Read on for more!

  •  On October 14, Direct from Cuba  Pablo Menendez & Mezcla perform with a host of Bay Area musical giants, including a special appearance by his mother, the legendary jazz vocalist and social activist Barbara Dane. Tickets for this event are on sale now!
  • On November 4,  John Jota Leaños and Sean Levon Nash collaborate on Imperial Silence: Una Opera Huerta, a Day of the Dead opera from the other side. The opera’s Intermezzi involve live musical interpretations of songs such as “El Corrido de Pat Tillman,” “Lamento Desaparecido,” “This is the House that Blacks Built,” “La Llorona” and others, and dance performances by Jesus Cortes and Vanessa Sanchez. 

  • On November 12th, local favorite Diana Gameros will celebrate her new album Arullo with a CD release party and concert (and a special guest - her mother!).

An explosion of Latinx Theatre

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

Brava's Summer of Xicanas which ends this week with the final performances of Cherríe Moraga's world premiere, The Mathematics of Love – appears to be leading the nation, as theater institutions around the country lend space to Latino (aka Latina and Latinx*) Theatre with newly announced festivals and initiatives. Finally, perhaps, the U.S. theatre community can give proper attention to the body of work that has been and is being created by the voices of Latin American theater artists.

In Chicago, a month long event organized by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance will be held at the city's major theaters including Steppenwolf Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater. The first annual Chicago International Theater Festival will take place from September 29 – October 29, 2017 and will feature U.S. premiers by Cuba's Ludi Teatro, Puerto Rico's Arte Boric, and Chicago's Water People Theater alongside classics such as Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden and an adaption of Strindberg's Miss Julie by  J. Ed Araiza, UCLA Dept head, veteran of El Teatro de la Esperanza, and original member of SITI Company.

This fall, San Diego Repertory Company will also launch the Latinx New Play Festival, which will open for two days on September 2, with a new play by Bay Area's own Ric Salinas and Herbert SIguenza of Culture Clash. Sam Woodhouse, the Rep's Artistic Director, says it is a formalizing of "our process of finding new Latino plays for audiences with a festival."

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

Geva Theater (Rochester, New York) Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, calling this year "a landmark season on Broadway" – alluding to the inclusion this year of several stories written and performed by people of color and the success of Hamilton – says "There's been a change, a tipping point.... We're in a different era. Not everyone understands that."
When Arizona Theatre Company's outgoing Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein urged the Board to "strongly consider someone other than a white male" to replace him, they failed to find someone with even a different first name – hiring David Ivers to lead the organization.

Read more about the challenges in this interesting article on Arizona's  struggle to create theater that reflects the states's demographics and the full article on diversity in theater in Rochester.

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

Photo by Gareth Gooch of The Mathematics of Love at Brava Theater Center

*Like Black, African-American, POC, etc., the irony of cultural specificity is that it often demands the acceptance of many identifiers. Roll with it!

The Mathematics of Love - "Perhaps it was just the cry of a woman wanting freedom"

The Mathematics of Love is a provocative new play that creates a fascinating intersection between past and present.
— Lisa Manter, Theatrius

Read the full review in Theatrius here.                              

In a landscape dominated by white male voices, Cherríe Moraga has successfully raised her pen to add hers to the canon.  Her return to her Brava roots  Cherríe is a co-founder of Brava is without a doubt one of the most anticipated moments in current theater. The Mathematics of Love opened with a thunderous standing ovation from a sold out crowd this past Saturday. Don't miss this seminal work from one of the world's most vital voices. Remaining performances Thur-Sun, August 17-27. Tickets

Of The Mathematics of Love, Cherrie Moraga says: "I began 'Mathematics' in the effort to tell a Mexican and American story about how the two cultures first encountered one another in a genocidal history in the making; but more importantly to me, as a feminist writer, it was a history shaped by the intimate sexual encounter between a European man and an Indigenous woman. Malinxe Tenepalwas a Native American slave who was given to the Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortés upon his arrival in Mexico in 1519.  She became his mistress, translator and tactical advisor in the conquest and, although a slave, is historically considered a “traitor” to Indigenous Mexico.

The story of Malinche and Cortés, the symbolic “parents” of México, parallels the much more benign union of my own parents (my Anglo father, Joseph, married my Mexican mother, Elvira, in 1948).  “Mathematics” is a story that began with these facts, but readily took on the deeper truth of fiction.   

My mother’s Alzheimer’s served as the initial writing catalyst for the play.  Through her dis-ease, I learned to marvel at the body’s capacity to remember even as it forgets its words. When Elvira, the matriarch of a 100-plus relations and the family (oral) chronicler, began to forget, her silence ignited in me a sudden visceral recognition of the cultural knowledges that had been denied us as Mexicans in the U.S.  The lost has been vast and profound.

Indian memory resurrects itself in the body of its descendants. History comes to visit us in our children and grandchildren and through the phenomenal promise of theater. Through writing, I’ve found resonance between the grand story of Malinche and the ‘small’ life of a Mexican- American woman, living with her gringo husband, two blocks from the Indian burial grounds of the San Gabriel Mission, where I grew up. 

It has been pure privilege to witness this work come to realization through the collective spirit and enormous talent of all its collaborators.  I am grateful."

                                                                                                                    – Cherríe Moraga

Photos on this page by Gareth Gooch

Celia Herrera Rodríguez: Conceptual Designer, The Mathematics of Love

Set for The Mathematics of Love, Brava Theater Center –  designed by Celia Herrera Rodríguez with Tanya Orellana (2017)

Set for The Mathematics of Love, Brava Theater Center –  designed by Celia Herrera Rodríguez with Tanya Orellana (2017)

Conceptual Designer for The Mathematics of LoveCelia Herrera Rodríguez is a San Francisco based painter, installation and performance artist and frequent collaborator with Cherríe Moraga.   

For The Mathematics of Love, Rodriguez has designed set and costumes and directed the overall visual storytelling of the play.



A frequent collaborator of Cherríe Moraga, Celia has been the conceptual, set, and costume designer for many of the recent plays. Rodríguez' designs are thorough, infusing every inch of the stage with a visual historical narrative that is vibrant and immediate.

Other theatrical collaborations with Moraga include The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea, La Semilla Caminante (Brava Theater Center, 2010), and New Fire (Brava Theater Center, 2012).

The Hungry Woman –  A Mexican Medea, set design by Celia Herrera Rodríguez (2005)  

The Hungry Woman –  A Mexican Medea, set design by Celia Herrera Rodríguez (2005)


Rodríguez's own work has been exhibited and performed around the world from Medellin, Columbia, Brussels, Belgium, to Alanya, Turkey. Her work is permanently housed in private collections as well as public collections in the Gorman Museum at UC Davis and the Institute of American Indian Art in Sante Fe, New Mexico. She lectures in Xicana Indigena Art Theory, History and Practice at UC Berkeley.

Scenes above and below from New Fire, Brava Theater Center (2012)

Scenes above and below from New Fire, Brava Theater Center (2012)

New Fire 2.jpg

Cherríe Moraga - A Vital Voice

Cherríe Moraga is one of the most influential writers that is read today.  Her new play, The Mathematics of Love, makes its World Premiere at Brava in August. 

Perhaps known best for the seminal anthology The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (co-edited with Gloria Andaluza) - a staple read in graduate programs in literary arts, gender, sexuality, race and/or cultural studies.  Her work is ground-breaking and she has become a guru for young writers, activists and cultural artists of color.  Her voice on cultural issues is seasoned, sharp, complex and vital.

The Mathematics of Love runs August 10-27 at Brava Buy Tickets

The Mathematics of Love runs August 10-27 at Brava

Buy Tickets

Cherrie Moraga speaks in the 2013 documentary Makers: Women Who Make America 

Unconditional Love

What a summer to be an intern at Brava! I went from reading Cherríe Moraga's Loving on the War Years in my militarism class at San Francisco State to helping promote the world premiere of Moraga's play, The Mathematics of Love. The Mathematics of Love opens on Thursday, August 10, 2017. 

The Mathematics of Love tells the story of Peaches, an aging, mid-staged Alzheimer's Mexican woman married to her Anglo husband, Poppa. The couple is awaiting their out-of-town-son, "God" in the Lobby of Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. Malinche, a 16th century Native female slave turned slaveholder, wearing red lipstick and sunglasses with a "small pyramid of Louis Vuitton luggage" trailing behind her. In Peaches' time traveling encounter with Malinche, she is forced to concede a radically ledger on her life; it's love and losses--the sum of a 500 year old rupture in America. 

I have yet to see the play (and seriously can't wait!), but I've spent some time researching the themes and characters Cherrie Moraga presents. I have so many thoughts and questions about her upcoming play. Like, is, Malinche's "small pyramid of Louis Vuitton" a metaphor for her life? Will she ever feel the love desired, romantically and platonically? Although Malinche was born into a noble Aztec family, a series of unfortunate events happen throughout her life: Malinche was close to her father who passed away; her mother, being so self-centered, sells her into slavery, leading her to have a misconception of love...

We hope you'll join us to see Cherríe Moraga's new upcoming play. Can't wait to tell you more after the world premiere of Mathematics of Love

GHOST LIMB showcases the work of fight choreographer Marilet Martinez

From a single slap (A Delicate Balance), or an alley mugging (Rent), to an all out battle, physical violence in a script should always be handled by a fight choreographer. For Ghost Limb, currently playing on Brava's Main Stage, Marliet Martinez (also an actor) is that person. 

"My main focus when creating this particular fight scene was to have the violence explode onto stage then vanish quickly. So that the family barely has time to process what just happened. Stage combat is a story telling tool, and in this moment I wanted to highlight the helplessness of common people when military rule become the order of the day. "  - Marilet Martinez

A short video of Marilet's work on Ghost Limb.

For more on fight choreography read Melissa HIllman of Impact Theatre's article on the subject.

Marilet Martinez

Marilet Martinez

See Marilet perform in the SF Mime Troupe's summer show, WALLS, in parks around the Bay Area.

From Audience to Intern

Official Selena Q. Perez Fan T-shirt

Official Selena Q. Perez Fan T-shirt

Hello! My name is Chalyna Lazo, Brava’s new Communications and Marketing intern. I’m very happy and excited to be guest blogging for Brava this summer!

My first experience with Brava was three months ago when I attended the “Selena Night” with some friends. We wanted to celebrate Selena’s life and music, so we went to Brava for the screening of the 1997 biopic and a dance party.

My overall impression of the event was the authenticity: attendees were diverse, all sharing a space where they admired a beautiful soul who brought joy to many. A 20th anniversary screening of Selena was an excellent choice for Brava, because Selena inspired so many artists to pursue their dreams. Brava isn’t just a space for professional artistic opportunity, but felt, to me, like a safe haven for all of us.

The mission and atmosphere was so beautiful, I wanted to continue learning and growing with Brava. At the “Selena Night” I expressed my interest in becoming an intern and was fortunate to become part of their staff for the summer. My experience as Brava’s intern has been amazing adventure so far.

For Brava's “Summer of Xicanas” series, I have been researching the themes in Ghost Limb and The Mathematics of Love to provide audiences background to the references the directors use in their plays. For additional content, check out my blog post on Argentina’s period of State Terror during the military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s.

I would like to personally invite all of you to the premieres of Ghost Limb on July 13 – 23 and The Mathematics of Love, running August 10 – 27. I will also be at the Brava table in the lobby during some of these events, so stop by and say hi! We hope to see you there!

Meet Malena Juanatey - Film Director, Observando al Observador

Malena Juanatey is the writer, director, and narrator of Observando al Observador, the first offering in our Summer of Xicanas series.

Malena Juanatey was born in Buenos Aires in 1985, and began her film studies in the Universidad del cine (FUC) in Buenos Aires. In 2006, after producing several short and feature film projects, she began the research that led to Observando al Observador (Observing the Observer), a documentary film written, produced, and directed by Malena Juanatey. The film analyzes the role taken by the United States during the last military coup in Argentina, through the testimonies of two US citizens who were kidnapped in those years.

Throughout the years Juanatey began to work in many different disciplines, and was part of the team that produced "Changing Places" in 2015 (an interdisciplinary festival supported by the Siemens Stiftung and the government of the city of Buenos Aires), and also the first Biennale of Performance in Argentina.

Apart from her work in film, Malena Juanatey is also a singer, songwriter, and co-founder of the group Las Martas  and has an absolutely beautiful voice! Juanatey will be joining us on Wednesday, June 21 for Brava's presentation of the US premiere of Observando al Observador, and will be on hand following the screening for the panel discussion.  Maybe we can coax her into a song!

Las Martas is a quintet founded by Verónica Sala (Voice) and Malena Juanatey (Voice), with Santiago Deluca (Guitar), Mauricio Martin (Contrabass) and Alejandro Hagopian (Drums)

Five Articles on Argentina's Dirty War which is at the center of two productions coming to Brava's stage.

Two productions in Brava's groundbreaking performance series, Summer of Xicanas: Theater, Film, y Encuentros, take as their political subject Argentina's military dictatorship of the 1970s and its progeny, the Dirty War, and include Observando al Observador, Malena Juantaney's film chronicling the 1970s imprisonment of the San Francisco icon Olga Talamante, and Marisela Orta's new play, Ghost Limb. The articles below offer insight into the devastation and ongoing repercussions of that time, covering Obama's controversial 2016 visit to Argentina at the  anniversary of the conflict, and the subsequent declassification of long hidden documents on America's role in the war and the disappearance of thousands of Argentinian citizens.

First Look at Ghost Limb

Get a first look at the press photos for Brava's presentation of the World Premiere of Marisela Trevino Orta's haunting and beautiful play Ghost Limb.  

Ghost Limb stars Tim Garcia as Javier Alfaro, Michele Apriña Leavy as Consuelo Alfaro, Gabriel Montoya as Eugenio Alfaro, and Ben Ortega as the Doctor/General, with Ryan Vasquez, Livia Gomes Demarchi, and Adela Guzmán.  

Directed by Mary Guzman.

Ghost Limb runs July 6 - 23, 2017. Tickets available here.

Set in Argentina during the Dirty War and riffing on the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter, Marisela Treviño Orta’s Ghost Limb tells the story of los desaparecidos—the disappeared of Argentina—and the mothers who fiercely protested the military dictatorship who took their children.

When Consuelo’s son Javier is disappeared from his home by the military, the world plunges into winter, and only a lone pomegranate tree—whose fruit Persephone was tricked into eating, forever binding her fate to the underworld—remains. During Javier’s abduction, Consuelo’s arm is badly injured by soldiers. As the pain in her arm grows stronger, so too does her connection to her son, as his pain at the hands of his torturers becomes her own.