Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"What are you drinking? Can I have a sip?" - A word from George X. Rodgriiguez about The Fifth Sun

Today's blog is by George X. Rodriguez

George X. Rodriguez stars as Archbishop Oscar Romero
in Artes de la Rosa's production of THE FIFTH SUN at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth.
If you had told me when I was in the 7th grade at All Saints Catholic, that my stage aspirations would lead me to be the feature actor in a play at The Rose Marine Theatre, I more than likely would have asked you for a sip of what you were drinking.

Back then, The Rose was a crumbled, dilapidated building that was the home to several of the homeless and indigent of The North Side. Main Street was a place you did not walk down at night, much less alone. Thank God, the neighborhood, and I, have lived long enough to see this dream come true.

            Most of my acting background comes from performing the classics, from Shakespeare to Steinbeck, and new works. So, when Artistic Director, Adam Adolfo Yzaguirre, told me that he wanted me to play the historically prolific and inspirational  Archbishop Oscar Romero, after I thanked God, and told my family, I eagerly replied “YES”.

            About three weeks later, Adam was working me into one of the scenes with the gifted performers who play the Mayan Gods. As he played the music that would be the musical scoring for our production, I sat down to listen to it. About halfway through it, I was literally and figuratively overwhelmed by the sheer weight and beauty of the whole. I felt that I simply may have bitten off more than I could chew or digest.
            My senses and psyche were overheating from the pageantry, poetry, and honesty of it all. It was the reason why I wanted to do theatre in the first place. Our director had crafted a unique vision with disciplined, talented artists that he felt could tell the story of Romero in a way, which is accessible to anyone who seeks the truth of the man’s message. I spoke to Adam about it, telling him that it was overwhelming to such a degree that I honestly did not know what to do. I was not afraid of the work, but I was a bit afraid of how the work might change me.

            I do quite a bit of research when I get the privilege of playing a role like this. As we are now in a digital age, there is a wealth of material available about Oscar Romero. From new documentaries, videos that illustrate some of the graphic and horrifying events of the time, with audio and written transcripts from Romero’s own homilies, all pointed to me toward the direction of what I feel that he must have when he saw with his own two eyes and one soul. Romero’s line in the second act is one that I feel is a core thread to the story. “You Cannot Always Calculate The Good. Some Things Must Be Done Simply Because They Are Right.”

            As Romero was also a master in The Beatitudes, his message of Christ’s, to treat your neighbor as you would yourself, is the one crystalline truth that I feel is central to humanity. Such truths are often almost impossible to depict or illustrate onstage to an audience if you do not believe in them yourself as the performer. I honestly feel that my journey to this role started in 7th Grade and will continue long after this show has closed.

            I am thankful for all of the artists in this production, our community, and my family for carrying me with them so we can tell this story and its message together.

                                                            Con Todo Mi Corazon y Mi Alma……..GXR

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Actors go head over heals for The Fifth Sun at Artes de la Rosa

Artes de la Rosa in recent years has become known for its ambitious productions (Tango operas, Greek Inspired American Classics, Environmental Musicals) and this September they add a new skill to that list, “Flying”. Cast members from the upcoming production of The Fifth Sun have been enrolled in circus school to learn the art of Aerial Silk Movement. 

Probably best exemplified by performers in the international circus franchise Cirque Du Soleil, the art of aerial silks (also known as aerial contortion, aerial tissues, fabric, & ribbon depending on regional preference) is a type of performance in which artists perform aerialbatic acrobatics while hanging from fabric. Performers climb the suspended fabric without the use of safety lines, and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety. They use the fabric to wrap, suspend, fall, swing, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions. Aerial silks may be used to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying.

            Artes de la Rosa is presenting The Fifth Sun by Nicholas A. Patricca, which chronicles the life of civil rights leader Oscar Romero. The story is mirrored with that of the Mayan Myth of the 5 Sun Gods of Life, Death, Rain, Cultivation, and Love.  Artistic Director Adam Adolfo offers, “I read once a criticism of the show saying that ‘What this play needs is a big staging that matches the grandeur of the Catholic Church with the grit of the world around it...’ – those words resonated with me for some time. The idea of the images of the Sistine Chapel coming to life and floating above the heads of the congregation was what bore the idea of aerial silk work in our production."

            The 4 actors who play the Sun Gods have been attending aerial classes at Lone Star Circus School in Farmers Branch Texas, 2 to 3 times a week for the last month, but they have been physically conditioning for the taxing art form since they were cast in May. “It’s important to be really in prime physical condition for this. It’s hard enough to execute the stunts, but now we must do it while acting and storytelling, and in my case, singing!…I’ve never been this tired in my life!” says Parker Fitzgerald who plays Apuch the God of Death.  Ghanan, God of Cultivation is played by ADLR alum Eduardo Aguilar saying, “I'm probably going to become addicted to this place. It's like the best playground ever.” Dancer Rebekah Ruiz, who plays Chac, God of Rain, is no stranger to silk work. “It’s good to be back in the silks again after so many years! I've already learned so much! I love it!” Veteran dancer Frieda Austin, who most recently wowed audiences in Artes de la Rosa’s Maria de Buenos Aires plays the God of Life. She offers this view of the groups silks class; “It is always fascinating to learn a new skill. Even after dancing for so long, I still feel the child-like excitement of doing something I've never done before.”

The following is an excerpt from Adam Adolfo's Program Director's Note:

"When thinking of the ‘grandeur’ of the Catholic Church, I kept envisioning the great columns of a cathedral and even let my mind wander to the images of painted ceilings, a’la the Sistine Chapel. I asked myself, what if the images on the ceiling could come to life and actually help tell the story of Oscar Romero. Thus was born the idea of aerial silk artistry as another storytelling device in this production. A patron of our theatre recently remarked, “Adam, your middle name is ambition. Of course The Fifth Sun is ambitious.” I laughed, but when I stop to consider my last few years with Artes de la Rosa, every production I have done has been ambitious in some way, whether it be with Greek style storytelling (A View From the Bridge), dance inspired narratives (Maria de Buenos Aires), naked emotional drama (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), or a stripped down staging (26 Miles), each of my shows here at ADLR have been ambitious in a different way. With The Fifth Sun, I feel we reach a production that is the culmination of the work we have done over the years. But at the end of all the ambitious staging concepts, theatrical lighting, and musical sequences, what I hope you leave with is the power of theatre and how it gave you a glimpse into the life of a man who gave of himself wholly, freely, and with great love."
There are five suns in the Mayan cosmos representing Life, Rain, Cultivation, and Death. The Fifth Sun is a human being whose destiny is to save his people… On March 24, 1980, during Mass, Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, was assassinated. Against the backdrop of Mayan and Catholic culture, imagery, history, and ritual, this powerful and acclaimed play presents the story of the people and the forces that transformed an ordinary man into a courageous leader. In celebration of the Mayan Calendar, we present The Fifth Sun in a highly ambitious staging. Experience the magic and mystery of the Mayan Culture through the fierce and transformative imagery of theatre! The Fifth Sun is produced through special collaboration with the Latino Cultural Center. The Latino Cultural Center is a division of the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs.

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

About Lone Star Circus School
Lone Star Circus® provides circus entertainment and is the performing arm of Lone Star Circus Arts Center, a non-profit, Dallas-based educational organization. Lone Star Circus Arts Center’s purpose is to promote circus arts through training, performance and community outreach.

CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS TO THE FIFTH SUN! Opening Night After Party included in cost of opening night ticket!