The Cumbia Queen's Legacy

"Cumbia Queen" of Tejano/Cumbia music

"Cumbia Queen" of Tejano/Cumbia music

Selena Quintanilla-Perez, the “Cumbia Queen” of Tejano/Cumbia music gave hope to young aspiring artists to pursue their dreams regardless of any limitations. She captivated the hearts of various communities of color to recognize their own strengths through art and creativity. Selena’s music success led her into pursuing other projects alongside her career. She was a role model and inspiration to those invested who felt the proximity of their dreams being untouchable.

Selena held an optimistic perception of world and was determined to engage in many ways possible by providing resources to those in need. In “Selena’s Community Involvement,” she took on three philanthropic projects she held deeply to her agenda while pursuing her career.

One of her projects was encourage young children and adults to make education a top priority. “Selena loved to go to public middle schools and high schools to talk to the kids about the importance of staying in school, avoiding drugs and alcohol, remaining chaste and pursuing goals.” (Selena Forever). D.A.R.E (Drugs and Resistance Education) chose Selena as their spokesperson to help promote youth living without turning to drugs. Lastly, she had a huge passion for women’s empowerment by having Battered Women’s Help hotline.

Selena left a timeless perception of how individuals and communities should aspire to be in the world. We’re proud to bring back the 1997 biographical film, Selena for our 2nd Annual Selena Night! Join us April 7, 2018 at 7:30pm for a sing-a-long and dance party. Get tickets now before they sell out !

All proceeds from the screenings benefit Brava! for Women in the Arts, allowing us to sustain a diverse range of live performances, provide emerging artists and community groups access to a professional venue, and empower the next generation of artists and technicians in our education programs.

Groundbreaking "House/Full of Black Women" honors Brava Cabaret with rare San Francisco performance

The Oakland based performance ritual, House/Full of Black Women, that has taken place over the past year with more than 10 "episodes," will be presented on March 15 as part of BACCE's So Soul San Francisco: Black Art Salons. Created by Amara Tabor Smith and Ellen Sebastian Chang, House/Full of Black Women is one of the most important and groundbreaking creative undertakings to come along in awhile. It is part of a large, ambitious and critical undertaking. On the shoulders of performing arts ancestors Barbara Ann Teer who believed in theater as a ritual for Black Liberation, House Full was created to engender the holistic well being of Black women, addressing issues of displacement, sex trafficking and invisibility - and so much more. 

Listen to Amara Tabor Smith speak to the project here - pure genius! 

House/Full - Now You See Me

House Full of Black Women will take place on March 15, 7pm in Brava's Cabaret. Tickets and information here.

House/Full - Meaning of Canaries

Photos by Robbie Sweeney

Life is a cabaret ol' chum, so come to the Cabaret.

This January Brava unveiled its brand-new, state of the art Cabaret! Located at street level along the 24th Street corridor in San Francisco's Mission District, the new space is a long-awaited addition to the already bustling Brava Theater Center.

Program, rehearsal, and conference space by day, by evening the space transforms into a mecca for comedy, drag, music and more! Already activated, the Cabaret will host David Molina and Idris Ackamoor's The Spirit, Breath of Life this Friday, March 3, and the encore performance of Marga Gomez' Latin Standards March 16 - April 1. And every third Thursday, BACCE takes over Brava's Cabaret to unleash Black Art in So Soul San Francisco: Black Art Salon Series that includes performance, food, music and conversation. 

The Cabaret, in all its forms, is also available for rent by artists and community groups. Check our website soon for details.

Programming Resistance in 2018

Since the election of 2016, Brava has been at the forefront of the resistance through artistic programming that illuiminates and activates. Brava focuses on art that is transformative, changing our perceptions of our relationships to each other, to power and the shaping of culture. Lately, Brava has seen on its stages artists and change-makers who are actively confronting the rising tide of xenophobia, racism and self-oppressing policies that have come with the new administration.

No less resistant in 2018,  Brava seeks to create action as an organization and venue through its programming and community outreach. Nowhere is that more evident than in Brava's Not My F***king President's Day comedy lineup, carefully chosen for the causes and communities they represent. Despite the obvious comic relief it offers, the event is poised to be as transformative and provocative as it is funny. Hats off to the comics, who despite attacks on their individual and our collective communities, continue to find humour and take to the stage to educate and help us work through the complexities of the issues of immigration reform and DACA; women's rights and sexual harrasement antigay, anti-Islamic sentiments; economic disiparities and all of the ensuing effects of these issues. Host Francesca Fiorentini of Al-Jazeera, East L.A's Chris Garcia, Muslim American comic Zahra Noorbaksh, African American Karinda Dobbin, Dreamer Johan Miranda and Bay Area's searing social critic on many issues, Dhaha Lakshminarayanan wil be bringing all those chickens home to roost on February 17th.  

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Not My F***ing President's Day


Not one to "let people off the hook," Francesca Fiorentini's Twitter feed (@franifio) is an explosion of resistance to the 45th and the particular brand of Fake News that come from the WH. She expounds well researched facts and correctives as fast as they can be uttered in purposeful "error." This is also reflected on Newsbroke, the investigative comedy show she produces and hosts on AJ+, Al Jazeera Media's digital outlet where the truth gets outted in sharply satirical flips and characterizations that typify the Newsbroke web episodes. We are counting on that smart, critical and funny insight as she hosts Brava's evening of comedy, Not My F***ing President's Day on February 17th!  Tickets and more information can be found here.

In the meantime, enjoy these episodes of Francesca's web show, Newsbroke:

Pushing It! Resistant and Resilient in 2017

BACCE ensemble performing in  Bootycandy . Photo by Kolmel W Love

BACCE ensemble performing in Bootycandy. Photo by Kolmel W Love

Brava responded to the events of 2017 with dynamic programming that resisted the encroaching divisiveness that characterized the moment nationally and locally.

In January, resident company Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience (BACCE) opened the year with a staged reading of An American Ma(u)l, Robert O'Hara's wicked satire about an inappropriate and mad president who jumps starts the economy by returning black people to a temporary slavery. In February, BACCE returned with a production of Bootycandy, Robert O'Hara's  edgy look at growing up black and gay in America. Brava's community partner Radar Productions presented Missing You, which investigated memory and place in the Mission. In March, political resistance was on the stage as legendary feminist Gloria Steinem shared a stage in conversation with Lateefah Simon; theatre artists responded to the crisis in Syria in Golden Thread's Syria Mon Amour; Baratunde Thurston brought his brand of resistant humor and commentary to Brava's maninstage; and a memorial concert was held for Alex Nieto. In April, we celebrated youthful resistance with a screening of the movie Selena and MAPA's production of Javier Hurtado’s Hope and the Mission, a local story that explored displacement, identity and sexuality. Summer brought explorations of American's role in Argentina’s period of State terrorism with the Bay Area premiere of Observando y Observador, a film chronicling local activist Olga Talamante's time in an Argentian prison in the 1970s and the production of Ghost Limb, Marisela Treviño Orta's play on the subject. In the fall, the Brava stage saw numerous events which engaged the important and growing women’s resistance movement with conversations with Joan Baez, Lila Downs, Zoe Quinn of Gamergate, and a screening of Dolores, film about the life and activism of Dolores Huerta. 

2018 will see Brava resistant and resilient as ever as we push the boundaries of engagement in the power of the political and cultural art and expression. We hit a high level of resistance early in the year with our Not My F*#cking President’s Day Evening of Comedic Resistance on Feb 17, featuring women comics of color, and an all-female lineup for our 6th Annual San Francisco Son Jarocho Festival, Jan 30 - Feb 4. Artistic resistance continues throughout the year with the production of Untold (Feb 15, 16 & 18), a new play about women and reproductive rights; Masters of the Currents, a community based story of Hawaiian resistance; Between Dirt & Sky, a musical about the life of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and the monthly series So Soul San Francisco: Black Art Salons which will bring radical artists of color together monthly to resist through art and technology. We are armed with wit, irony, beauty, rage, outrage, theatricality, song and drag and ready for the new year!

Looking back on #GivingTuesday

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Brava participates in #GivingTuesday every year. It is a great time to tell our amazing story of rising from the ashes, connect to our community with a promise for the coming year and provide an opportunity for our supporters to do their part to keep these doors open and to champion the cause of arts for everyone in San Francisco.

The Mathematics of Love  photo by Gareth Gooch

The Mathematics of Love photo by Gareth Gooch

Our Story
Brava celebrates 31 years of offering support for local artists and their work. 2017 has been a banner year! In the wake of hurricanes and restricted travel, Brava presented the legendary Cuban artist and Oakland native, Pablo Menéndez and his band Mezcla to a sold-out house! The past year also saw the presentation of three theatrical premieres: Robert O'Hara's Bootycandy, Marisela Treviño Orta’s Ghost Limb, and in August Cherríe Moraga's long awaited new play The Mathematics of Love. Brava was also honored, along with writer and actor Rotimi Agbabiaka, to present the solo show Type/Caste: acting while black (& queer). Brava is home to the annual presentations of the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Queer Women of Color Film Festival, Sketchfest Comedy Festival and so many more. Brava's own annual events Baile en la Calle: The Mural Dances and Son Jarocho Festival uniquely reflect the cultural legacy of our community.

Bootycandy  photo by Kolmel W Love

Bootycandy photo by Kolmel W Love

In 2017 more than 1,000 local artists passed through our doors appearing in theatrrical productions and staged readings, dance concerts and workshops, solo performances and opera, music performances and festivals, films, circuses alongside national icons like Gloria Steinam and Lila Downs. Brava also enjoys partnerships with over 40 local organizations, offering rental subsidies and co-presentations to become a critical space for the arts in San Francisco.

2017 also saw the opening of our newly renovated storefront with over 4,000 square feet of performance and office space. 

Our Future
In the upcoming year, Brava will present many more new projects by local, national and international artists including playwright Lisa Marie Rollins, comedian Marga Gomez, BACCE founder, actor, and director Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, Idris Ackamoor and Cultural Odyssey. Please support Brava on #GivingTuesday and ensure that the local arts movement is vibrant and alive!

De-colonizing Technology

The Kapor Center for Social Impact recently released the findings of a study entitled The 2017 Tech Leavers Study that was the first of its kind to examine the reasons employees voluntarily leave their jobs in the tech industry.  What they found was voluntary job exits were driven by workplace culture, significantly affecting the retention of underrepresented groups - women, Black and Latinos. 

In the wake of this groundbreaking study, meet two fierce and badass Bay Area professionals who are ensuring inclusion in the future tech landscape.  From App Dev to AI, these entrepreneurs are working to disrupt the "tech bro" bias and participate in the de-colonization of technology. 

Photo credit: Lance Yamamoto, East Bay Express

Photo credit: Lance Yamamoto, East Bay Express

Dr.  Kortney Ryan Zeigler is a writer, filmmaker, artist and activist and founder of Trans*H4CK, an organization dedicated to creating technology that "economically empowers, improves access to social services, promotes gender safety and community sustainability, while bringing visibility to trans* tech innovators and entrepreneurs."  Zeigler was the first African America to complet a  PhD in African American studies at Nothwestern University. Dr. Zeigler looks at technology as a way of leveling the playing field a space to allow the dissipation of inequities and eschews the so-called "difficulties" in hiring more black people in tech. Trans*H4CK launched its first hackathon in 2013, hosted at the New Parkway in Oakland. Since then, Trans*H4CK has hosted three other in-person hackathons, which have resulted in over 30 projects created geared toward the transgender and gender non-conforming community.



Laura Montoya, Founder and CEO of Accel.AI, an Oakland based startup that seeks to remove barriers that prohibit Latina engineers from entering the world of Artificial Intelligence says that the  need is to not just "hire more people of color... but really making them feel included, that their experience and work is warranted and valuable".  (

A goal of Accel.AI is work worldwide with women and displaced populations to create a network of AI Engineers around the world focusing on the populations who have the greatest barriers to access. Ironically, these are the populations who are that greatest risk of disruption by the AI technology as computers and robots replace people in jobs.

 In the Bay Area, she is a director with Women Who Code and runs a book club,Tech Lore, that focuses on preparing participants for the current tech environment through literature.  Aceel.AI tech workshops - offered at deep discounts to women and LGBTQ participants - not only teach specific skills but cover how to start a company, gain access to technology as well as empowerment skills, such as getting rid of your"imposter syndrome".  She goes into schools in low access areas and partners with several groups, like Oakland's Dub Mission and Techtonika,  to depart the attitude and skills necessary to enter and excel in the tech field.


Read about Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code, a nominee for 2017 SF Chronicle Visionary of the Year

Marin Theatre Company in hot water over new play


Marin Theater Company has come under fire for a controversial production of the play, Thomas and Sally, by New York writer Thomas Bradshaw that takes on the historical relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Several actors turned down the roles, signaling early trouble for the company and production. Prior to the show even opening, patrons and community members were posting on the social media pages of the theater company requesting a stop to the production, using hashtags #rapeisnotlove and #enditnow. MTC's initial deflection of these remarks was seen as dismissive. Tracy Camp, a local actor and board member of Marin's AlterTheater passed out fliers outside the production discouraging people from seeing the play; and a peaceful protest held outside the theater by Regina's Door, an organization of women in defense of sex trafficking, was met with taunts and insults by the MTC security team and eventually led to to a decision by Marin Theatre Company to call the police on the protestors. In addition, actors have insulted and demeaned the criticism from the stage in post-show addresses to the audience. 

An open letter of protest crafted by a coalition of Black women professional theater artists, which included actors Margo Hall and Lauren Spencer, who have recently been seen onstage at Marin Theatre Company, has been signed by a growing number of Bay Area performing artists. The group met with Marin Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis at the theater on October 24th, to discuss their concerns in person. 

Cathleen Riddley, a San Anselmo resident, actress and artistic director of AlterTheater, and a member of the coalition said that she hoped that the “MTC staff will hear and listen to the feedback of black women.”

Marin Theater Company has responded publicly here.

Brava projects win at Theatre Bay Area Awards!

 (l-r, Rotimi Agbabiaka, Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe)

 (l-r, Rotimi Agbabiaka, Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe)

Monday, October 30, 2017 marked the 3rd Annual TBA Awards with Rotimi Agbabiaka taking home two of the coveted obelisks! 

Rotimi Agbabiaka's Type/Caste which took top honors in the category of Outstanding Production of a Solo Play.  Rotimi also took home the TBA obelisk for Outstanding Male Actor in a Play for his show-stopping role in BACCE's Bootycandy. Both shows were directed by Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe (also nominated for Type/Caste).

Brava and BACCE won recognition in 2014 as Outstanding Ensemble for Sweet Maladies which featured Brit Frazier, Kehinde Koyejo, Lisa Anne Porter and Stefanee Martin.


TBA Awards began in 2014 as an alternative to the Bay Area Critics Circle award introducing a peer-adjudication system that allows TBA member companies and their staff access to productions and voting rights.  This year's extravaganza was hosted by acting and circus phenoms, Tristan Cunningham and Jeff Raz.  Donald Lacy received the Legacy Award and Jeff Carpenter was the recipient of the Charles Dean Award.

John Jota Leaños – New Media Activism

From “Corrido de Tillman,” remembering the life and tragic death of former NFL player and Army Ranger, Pat Tillman.

From “Corrido de Tillman,” remembering the life and tragic death of former NFL player and Army Ranger, Pat Tillman.

John Jota Leaños, director and librettist of Imperial Silence: Una Opera Muerta, showing at Brava Theater on Friday, November 3, is an award-winning Xicano-mestzo new media artist who uses animation, documentary and performance to focus on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization, disrupting the status quo in both art and society. Leaños' multimedia artworks embody a vision of activism that is provocative and confrontational, and fresh in its approach to socially conscious art.

Leaños became the center of national controversy in October 2004 when he created a poster (featured at the right) questioning the heroicization of football player Pat Tillman’s death in military service in Afghanistan. Leaños' Imperial Silence, which takes place in four parts each representing a phase of the life cycle, remembers the life and tragic death of the former NFL player turned Army Ranger, in the act entitled “El Corrido de Pat Tillman." The photo at top is a still from this act

Brava presents Imperial Silence: Una Opera Muerta on Friday, November 3. For more information and to purchases tickets, click here.


Barbara Dane - Stalwart of Peace & Freedom

Barbara Dane Fidel Castro.jpg

Barbara Dane won the respect of Black America with her voice as well as her activism. Over the course of her career, she worked with a great number of Black American blues icons including Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Mama Yancey Clara Ward, Lightnin' Hopkins and others. In November of 1959, she became one of the first and few white singers to be featured in a seven-page spread in Ebony Magazine.

In 1966, Dane released a stirring Civil Rights directed album with the Chambers Brothers. That same year, she was invited to tour Cuba by the new Cuban government led by Fidel Castro and satisfied his curiosity on the US Civil Rights movement, personally in a face to face meeting. 

A stalwart of the peace, freedom and justice movements of the 1960s, Dane had associations with actor/activist Paul Robeson and playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She worked both as an artist and in citizenship alongside the peace and freedom movement singing at rallys and anit-ward GI coffehouses and with her husband, Irwin Silber, established a record label devoted to protest music. An artist such as Barbara Dane, who chooses a life devoted to the establishment of peace and civil rights, does so at great personal and professional risk and deserves our attention and recognition.   

Barbara Dane will appear with other special guests at Brava this Saturday, October 14 with her son, Cuban musician Pablo Menendez and his band Mezcla. Tickets to this historic event are sold out!

Celebrating love between the Bay Area and Cuba


San Francisco Chronicle reporter Andrew Gilbert interviewed Pablo Menéndez for the following article about his upcoming performance at Brava Theater Center on Saturday, October 14 in which Menéndez and his band Mezcla will be performing live. The full article can be found here.

Running directly against the headwinds of American culture is nothing new for Pablo Menéndez. But in the aftermath of an election where a promise to erect a wall paved the way to the White House, he’s doubling down on building bridges.

Born in Oakland, he’s lived in Havana since 1966, when a one-year trip to Cuba with his mother, blues and jazz singer Barbara Dane, turned into a permanent change of address. Rather than cutting ties with his homeland, the guitarist has managed to stay connected to the U.S. music scene, particularly in the Bay Area, where he’s performed often with his Cuban roots rock band Mezcla.

On Saturday, Oct. 14 at San Francisco’s Brava Theater Center, Menéndez is at the center of his most ambitious U.S. show yet, bringing the latest incarnation of his talent-laden band together with a cast of Bay Area cultural stalwarts, including Dane, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday with a concert at the SFJazz Center; percussionist John Santos; flutist John Calloway; and father-and-son guitarists/producers Greg and Camilo Landau, who’ve accrued seven Grammy Award nominations between them.

’We all know the world is in crisis,’ Menéndez said, speaking from his house in Havana, where he and friends were dining on plantains from trees in his front yard felled by Hurricane Irma. ‘It seems like there’s a whole lot of money for war, and not for music. We wanted to reach a wider audience, especially a progressive audience in an iconic theater. We’re going to celebrate love between the Bay Area and Cuba.’

Bonds between artists in the Bay Area and Cuba have long defied the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba and the communist government’s efforts to sequester the island’s people. Musicians are probably overrepresented amongst the region’s small Cuban community, with recent arrivals like Oakland-based vocalist Yeny Valdes, who’s one of the special guests at the Brava show.

Menéndez has honed a singular blend of blues, rock, jazz and folkloric and popular Cuba forms by attracting some of Cuba’s most accomplished musicians. He recorded the band’s most recent album, 2014’s “Pure Mezcla,” at Yoshi’s in Oakland, but the ensemble he’s bringing back to the Bay Area features some new faces, including “two amazing women touring with us for the first time,” he said.

Mezcla vocalist/percussionist Lien Diaz got her start with the pioneering Afro-Cuban rock band Sintesis. ‘She’s one of the greatest rumberas of recent times,’ he said. ‘She actually trained as a doctor, but all that time she was drawn to Afro Cuban dance and music. Her sound is unique, not folkloric, but deep in the tradition and completely contemporary.’

The band’s other vocalist is Yuko Fong, who was born in Tokyo and moved to Cuba as an adult to pursue her love of Cuban music. Rising 22-year-old violinist Christopher Simpson is also playing his first U.S. gig with the band, which is propelled by the powerhouse percussion tandem of Octavio Rodríguez and Ruy López-Nussa, who hails from a storied musical family and performed at SFJazz last year with his older brother, pianist Harold López-Nussa.

Few relationships better capture the singular connection between the Bay Area and Cuba than Menéndez’s lifelong friendship with Alameda guitarist/producer Greg Landau. They first met in the late 1960s, when the teenage Landau visited Cuba with his father, documentarian Saul Landau (his mother is esteemed Oakland poet Nina Serrano).

As someone who’s devoted his life to documenting Latin American music, Landau sees Menéndez as ideally placed to ‘give an expression to this bridge that’s formed between Cuba and the Bay Area, to celebrate the strength of power of people to connect despite all the obstacles.’

Saturday’s event starts at 7:30 p.m. with the U.S. premiere of the hour-long documentary about Menéndez titled “Tan Lejos/So Near…So Far,” by award-winning Cuban director Lourdes Prieto and Los Angeles documentarian David Sandoval.

At a time of increasing tensions between Cuba and the United States, Menéndez believes that Mezcla carries to key to a new age.

’Rock ’n’ roll mixes so well with rumba,’ he said. ‘And Mezcla is the music of love and mutual respect.’
— Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle



Voices of Resistance - Joan Baez and Lila Downs

Joan Baez and Lila Downs.

Joan Baez and Lila Downs.

Lila Downs from a performance on Brava's Main Stage back in the day!

Lila Downs from a performance on Brava's Main Stage back in the day!

This Sunday, October 1, Brava is proud to play host to the Chicana/Latina Foundation and their Executive Director Olga Talamante for an intimate conversation with artist/activists Joan Baez and Lila Downs. It will be a unique opportunity to hear the personal stories of two of the most talented and politically committed artists/activists of our time.  

Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets to this event (we're happy to report it completely sold out!) as all proceeds benefit the Mission and Programs of the Chicana Latina Foundation and the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem of Oaxaca.

Diana Gameros - On the Rise!

Photo of Diana by Cristina Isabel Rivera

Photo of Diana by Cristina Isabel Rivera

Diana Gameros’ steady fingerpicking and elegantly simple melody create a calm within the storm, a safe place for big questions and long-ailing wounds that transcend any news cycle. Her voice has a remarkable expressive range. She’s at once strong and breathy — in an instant, wounded and boldly searching.

Diana Gameros creates authentic, inspiring music that reflects the 21st century experiences of an indie artist at the borderlands between cultures, languages, and genres. Whether teasing every ounce of expression from her acoustic guitar in an intimate cafe or bringing people to their feet in a club with her dynamic full band, Gameros transfixes listeners with her soaring vocals, impressive playing and captivating stage presence. Her songs and story have been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered and Weekend Edition, Public Radio International – The World and the PBS Newshour website.

Her entry into NPR’s Tiny Desk contest received a special mention and she recently toured with Tiny Desk winners Tank n the Bangas. She is the recipient of the Emerging Leader Award from the Chicana/Latina Foundation for her work in music and social justice activism.

On Saturday, November 12, Diana celebrates the release of her new album, Arrullo, with a CD release concert at Brava Theater Center. Information and tickets here.

Watch and listen as Diana plays "¿Cómo Hacer?" - a song made up of questions that came out of her need for home, wisdom and forgiveness.

Brava Open House & Fiesta de las Américas

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  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