Friday, March 23, 2012

THE GRAPES OF WRATH: A look at it from a small town girl...

Cassandra Clarke, in rehearsal for
The Grapes of Wrath; A Living Scrapbook
Photo by Oliver Luke
Being a shy and quiet girl, who just moved to a huge city, (compared to Kingsville and Three Rivers Texas) was a bit challenging. When I first heard about Artes de la Rosa Theatre, I was really excited to learn about a theatre that expresses the Latino roots. There I met Mr. Adam Adolfo, and he told me he was from Corpus Christi (which is like a 45 minute drive from Kingsville). What a small world!

As the days went by, Adam told me about the Big Read and that Artes de la Rosa was doing a collaboration with the program; he asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I accepted the role and figure it would be a great way to meet new friends, and show the city of Fort Worth what this small town girl has to offer!

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was terrified really, but once I got there…. it was awesome! Everyone made me feel comfortable and rehearsals were fun! As for the actual production, “The Grapes of Wrath; A Living Scrapbook”; it has soooo much detailed information about: The Great Depression, the people during the era, and Steinbeck’s actual diary entries!

Honestly, in high school, The Great Depression for me was literally “depressingly boring.” However, what Adam did with this show is so creative and entertaining, that everyone will enjoy it. There’s drama, music, and special footage about the era that will leave the audience wanting more. So you can pick up the book and enjoy it, over and over again.

The Grapes of Wrath; A Living Scrapbook opens Wednesday March 28th and plays Wednesday, Thursday, & Fridays at 7:30 pm. $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call the Rose Marine Theater Box Office at (817) 624-8333. Special ticket prices are available for groups of 15 or more. Tickets can be purchased online at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath; A moment with Jeremy Daniel Jackson.

Today we spend time with Texas Wesleyan Senior Theatre Major, Jeremy Daniel Jackson.  An actor/director Jeremy takes the stage with one of his professors, Kristin Spires.  Pictured at below is Jeremy, with Artes Academy Student, Hunter Hurt. Here's what Jeremy has to say...

Jeremy Daniel Jackson & Hunter Hurt in rehearsals...
When I was asked to be a part of this project, I was a bit hesitant. I  knew very little about Adam Adolfo and Artes de la Rosa.  Having seen a few shows here, I know they're a theatre very much so in touch with art and theatre centered around the Latin-American culture, so I was like, "oh God! They're going to have me attempting to speak spanish!"

Thankfully however, that's not the case. Thus far, my experience with this entire process has been rather pleasant. Rehearsals have been a blast! Adam has worked hard to make the enviroment fun, open-minded, productive and comfy. As an actor, I always look forward to the new knowledge I gain from a show and this show is full of it!
Being that the production is centered around The Grapes of Wrath both dramatically and historically,  An audience will most definitely walk away from this show knowing so much more about the novel, our nations history, and Steinbeck himself. After our first rehearsal we were asked to sum up our thoughts of the script and the other activities that day and I said "enlightened."  I think anyone that comes to see this show will feel this way in one way or another.
A Moment from a rehearsal from the upcoming World Premiere of
THE GRAPES OF WRATH; A Living Scrapbook
From Left To Right: Cassandra Clarke, Wes Cantrell, Kristin Spires, Jeremy Daniel Jackson, & Laura L. Watson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting Electrified: ELECTRICIDAD at Artes de la Rosa

Today we spend a few minutes with Electricidad Actress, RAQUEL LYDIA LEAL who plays Chola turned "hallelijuah", Ifiegnia.

"Ifi" played by Raquel Leal
Photo by Shannon Atkinson
I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this show. Not only have all my cast mates been a blast but there has been delicious food practically every. single. rehearsal. So thanks Zulma Fernandez, Danielle Reboli, Rebecca RedFox, Lee Castro, and Rose Marine Theatre for feeding a starving actor!

When I first auditioned for Electricidad, I had no idea what to expect other than it's based on the Greek Tragedy, Electra, only set in the Cholo World. Did I know what a "Chola" was? Um...Eyebrow and lip liner? That was about the extent of my knowledge.

To say the least, I've come a long way since then on understanding this rich culture. Seeing my cast mates in their own journey of discovering, "Choloism" has been lots of fun to watch! Fortunately, I could take a couple of pointers from Cesar Hernandez (Nino), Fredy Quiroga (Auggie), and Jimmy Moreno (Orestes). These dudes know a couple of things about the cholo world for real. Chingones. One thing Fredy mentioned I found particularly interesting is that in the cholo world, females have a lot more proving to do than the men! To get initiated, they could A) get jumped in or B) sleep with the leader. Most cholas preferred to get jumped in. Orale, cabronas!

There is so much hardcore stuff in this play and I truly believe Claudia Acosta has poured her heart and soul into this role and has achieved amazing success because of it. I admire her. I guess 10 years working in the N.Y. theatre scene pays off.

Sisters, Electricidad & Ifi;
played by Claudia Acosta & Raquel Leal
Photo by Shannon Atkinson

I'm also grateful to Yvonne Duque, director of Electricidad (and actress - she plays Clemencia!) for encouraging sooo much interaction in the beginning stages of rehearsal. I have never worked with a director that sat every single cast member down and asked on an individual basis what they thought of their character, in detail, and even what they thought of the other characters. The first week of rehearsal was just so relaxing and insightful because every one had a say about whatever and I believe this led to the entire cast having a much better understanding and grasp on the story. Adam Adolfo, Artes de la Rosa Artistic Director, also gave inspiring notes towards opening night. He was an extra boost we needed. His message was simple: "Energy changes everything." I guess that just about sums up the dynamics of the way life works.

The character I play, Iphigenia, a reformed Chola, certainly has been an unique experience for me. I can relate to her on many levels, and she helped me realize that no matter what, you cannot change people. People have to decide for themselves to change. All you can do is be the light you wish to see and be true to yourself. Follow your bliss. No one else is gonna do it for you. And forgiveness is a virtue. Whatever the hell that means.

-Raquel Lydia Leal

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath; A Moment with Actress Laura L. Watson

Over the next two weeks we will be spending time with members of the cast of The Grapes of Wrath; A Living Scrapbook as they prep for the WORLD PREMIERE production this March 28th at Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts. Today we spend time with actress, collegue, and friend, Laura L. Watson.

Not many people know this about me, but I was born in Oklahoma. My entire extended family lives in and around McAlester, Oklahoma. We work as butchers, bakers, shop owners, newspaper men, housewives, at the ammunition plant, but primarily we are ranchers and farmers.
As word travels through the grapevine that I am, in fact, part of this commissioned production of The Grapes of Wrath (thanks to Adam Adolfo, Texas Wesleyan, and the National Endowment for the Arts for making this production possible as part of The Big Read), my family echoes the same sentiment: My acting career must be hitting an all time low to be a part of anything by Steinbeck.
“Steinbeck never lived in Oklahoma.”
“He heard a few stories and then made up one, and people believed it.”
“We don’t talk like that. Nobody does. People from Oklahoma were educated, Christians - we are good people. But no one who’s read that book thinks so.”
“That book is still banned. My kids won’t read it.”
My family stayed in Oklahoma and held on during the Dust Bowl’s Great Depression. They are a proud people who work hard and never, ever give up.
I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school. I hated it - as I should.
Now, I’m reading it as a Texan, as an actor, as an historian, and as a journalist. Though I see my family’s point, I’m also beginning to see everyone else’s reasons for calling it a great American novel.
So, here I am: an Oklahoma-born Texan diving into the bowels of The Grapes of Wrath. And though I can pick the book apart, I see the heart of it - the heart of a peple who refuse to quit. He captured the spirit of Oklahomans. I know these people.
Adam calls this production his book report on The Grapes of Wrath - NOT his adaptation. We are here to make people want to read this book. And, as we make this living book report come alive - complete with anticipation, preparation, birth pains, and (hopefully) the overwhelming celebration when we hear a new life take its first triumphant breath - I am bringing my entire family and our history into the delivery room with me. Though they refuse to support Steinbeck’s work, my family will be on the stage with me.
As part of this diverse cast (including Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Germans, British, and so forth), I will attempt to capture my Oklahoma spirit - the pride, the strength, and the refusal to quit until the work is done. That is what jumped out at me during the first rehearsal: All anyone wanted during the Great Depression was to WORK. To earn their keep, to feed their family and take care of their own. To hold their head up high. I sat up with pride as I realized this was the American spirit of this time - just let me work. (Where is this attitude today? Oh, my, THAT is another blog for another show.) My family may see this as a low point in my acting career, but at least I’m working. And they are proud of me for that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Artes de la Rosa Joins The Big Read!

Artes de la Rosa
Joins the Fort Worth Big Read to Present
THE GRAPES OF WRATH: A Living Scrapbook

Artes de la Rosa is proud to announce their partnership in the Fort Worth Big Read – The Grapes of Wrath which is co-sponsored by Texas Wesleyan University and the Fort Worth Public Library. The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.

Artes de la Rosa’s contribution to the Fort Worth Big Read will be a bilingual staging of the cultural significance of the book, The Grapes of Wrath. The production dubbed The Grapes of Wrath; A Scrapbook is penned by Director/Producer Adam Adolfo for the Fort Worth Big Read and is drawing on both English and Spanish language to tell the story of dustbowl depression.

This World Premiere production for Artes de la Rosa innovatively tells the epic journey of The Grapes of Wrath in 80 minutes with only 10 actors. The final experience is a multimedia, multi disciplinary stage celebration of the literary work of John Steinbeck. Based upon the novel’s text as well as historical photographs and music, the Artes de la Rosa production gives audiences a glimpse of the depression era, the Steinbeck classic, and the social implications of a life filled with sadness in the face of hunger and desperation.
The cast of Artes de la Rosa’s production include familiar faces and actors making their Artes de la Rosa debut, in addition to student performers from Artes Academy, Artes de la Rosa’s Award Winning After School Arts Education Program. ADLR alum Stephanie Cleghorn, Carlos Iruegas, Laura Watson, and Jimmy Moreno take the stage with Artes Academy students Hunter Hurt and Anna Varela. Making their debut on the stage at Rose Marine Theater is Wes Cantrell, Cassandra Clarke, Jeremy Jackson and Kristin Spires. The cast of 10 play more then 50 characters utilizing narratives, Steinbeck journal entries, interviews and storytelling to tell the epic. The production is co-designed by Artes de la Rosa Technical Director Oliver Luke and Artistic Director Adam Adolfo with Lighting Design by Michael Cole.

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. In Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the book that will be spotlighted throughout The Big Read is John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a classic novel about the Great Depression. The NEA presents The Big Read in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

Texas Wesleyan’s community partners are the Fort Worth Public Library, City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Fort Worth Independent School District, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Friends of the Fort Worth Library, Texas Christian University, Tarrant County College, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, The Reading Connection, Dallas Model A Club, and Barnes & Noble. The local kickoff event for The Big Read was at the Tarrant Area Food Bank in February 29th. Events will continue until late May – both on the Texas Wesleyan University campus and around town. Book discussions, food drives, speakers, and play adaption of The Grapes of Wrath are among the planned events.

In effort to draw focus to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Artes de la Rosa is offering significant ticket discounts of $5 for the donation of canned goods. Please bring a canned food item for donation to the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

The Grapes of Wrath; A Living Scrapbook opens Wednesday March 28th and plays Wednesday, Thursday, & Fridays at 7:30 pm. $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call the Rose Marine Theater Box Office at (817) 624-8333. Special ticket prices are available for groups of 15 or more. Tickets can be purchased online at

To set up interviews with the director, production staff, or cast members please contact Adam Adolfo, Producer / Artistic Director at or call 817-624-8333.

About Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts
Artes de la Rosa is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and interpreting the art,
lives, and history of Latino culture for all.