Thursday, May 28, 2015

Earning Your Tags, The tradition of #War

Earning Your Tags, The tradition of #War

Or Why Doing an Adam Adolfo Show

is Like Going to War

By Adam Adolfo 

Much has been said about the powerful dogtag image being used to market the Artes de la Rosa production of Man of La Mancha. It is simultaneously iconic, edgy, and elegant. It also is part of a greater story that only actors, designers, and musicians who have worked with me before know.

Ask any actor who’s done one of my shows what it’s like and they won’t flinch as they respond proudly, WAR. What began as a bit of a joke has transitioned into something that is both inspirational and a source of pride for theatre artists.

In the Heights actress and Tony Award winner, Karen Olivo, famously called the process of rehearsal and performance, “Battle”. She says, “My desire to share my experience, my heart, and my pain became a need. Every evening I would call our show 'going into battle'. My cast-mates would laugh or sometimes agree depending on their level of fatigue or illness. However, I meant it. I was at war with myself.”

The phrase actors in my shows use is, “Doing an Adam Adolfo show is like going to war…” it even spawned an unofficial rehearsal hashtag (#war). One snarky actor went further by saying “…specifically the Vietnam war, because it’s all conflict, there’s no resolution, but you know without a doubt something important has happened.” The metaphor for the rehearsal process is oddly appropriate. Tensions are high, and demands are higher. There is a constant struggle to achieve better and produce stronger, and yet the drive behind it continues. While it is not life and death like a solider, the commitment and pride it can elicit are quite similar.

A moment from
Stolen Shakespeare Guild's HENRY V
Several years ago, I directed a production of Shakespeare’s HENRY V for Fort Worth’s Stolen Shakespeare Guild, which I set in a fictional world that combined imagery from World War II with Elizabethan costuming.  The effect was a fairly elegant image of war.  On opening night, I gave the cast a ‘Good Show Gift’, they were dog tags. On the tag was the name of the show, and a line from the script, “How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown.” To say they liked it was an understatement, they flipped out and asked if they could wear them under their costumes… and thus a tradition was born.

Everyone who works on an Adam Adolfo show must earn their dog tag and they receive their tags on opening night.  It has become something that actors who have been through multiple ‘wars’ look forward to, this opening night tradition that signifies accomplishment.

Adrian Godinez, member of Artes de la Rosa’s Resident Acting Company, and currently scarring audiences as The Captain of the Inquisition in Man of La Mancha says, “The dog tags bring back the memories of the show. Dog tags must be earned after weeks of work and dedication.” Adrian is now on his 5th or 6th tag. Faith Hope who received her first dogtag with Man of La Mancha offers, “When you join the military you know full well you are setting yourself up for exhaustion and pain. You know in the end there will always be two camps the ones who love and the ones who oppress but you do it anyway because of the Love you have for this great country. It is no different in an Adam Adolfo show. You WILL suffer, you will suffer tears and pain and sometimes even blood but in the end it's worth it all for the craft we love so dear! We won't always agree with the road taken to the final product but all roads lead to a group of virtual strangers united under the same flag of joy and passion for this art.

Earning your tags, just another way that our artists say, “YO SOY ARTES DE LA ROSA”.

Three chances left to see Artes de la Rosa’s Man of La Mancha this weekend! And while here, pick up your souvenir dogtags! #LaManchaFW

Final week this week through May 31st
Friday-Saturday at 8:00, and Sunday at 3:00 pm

For information and to purchase tickets, go to
or call 817-624-8333.