THEATRE • BY SARAH KRAUT
Cristina Garcia describes her creative process as “Jackson Pollock in the head.” She thinks abstractly, in a stream-of-consciousness manner, and she loves to talk. She is a distinct character with an explosion of personality. When Garcia found out she received an award for a play she wrote, she wore a crown the entire next day.
Garcia, a Takoma Park local for 16 years, and a wife and mother of two, just received the Maryland State Arts Council 2012 Individual Artists Award for her second play, “Tacones” (“high heels” in Spanish). The award recognized 100 Maryland artists from 15 counties across the state “for creating working of exceptional quality within a range of disciplines,” according to the MSAC website. Garcia received a $1000 grant with the award, to help her advance her artistic career.
“I have no idea where the idea for the play came from,” said Garcia. “It’s like Michelangelo would say ‘I don’t do it, it’s done through me.’ I just sit down and all of a sudden something comes out.”
In a rather nebulous description, Garcia explained that “Tacones” is about two men — one, an ex-priest turned transvestite — who get caught up in an immigration raid and are detained, and the truth that they find out about each other.
“It’s actually about torture,” she decided. “I spent like two years in my basement reading torture files.”
“My first play was a comedy, kind of more cultural identity kind of stuff, and this is more existential,” she added.
Garcia’s deemed her first play as semi autobiographical. “Lesbians and the Men Who Love Them,” tells the story of a Latina who decides she’s going to live life as a lesbian, and then falls in love with a man and has an identity crisis. The play is about her struggles with identity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Garcia purposely ends the play ambiguously, not defining whether or not the protagonist is gay or straight.
“People need to write their own endings,” she said. “I think my job as a playwright is to present a story, ask question, and not to wrap it up neatly. I think you need to decide for yourself.”
Garcia hopes to use the money from the MSAC award to stage her play this summer in the D.C. Capital Fringe Festival — a performing arts event whose mission is to “connect exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating outlets and spaces for creative, cutting-edge, and contemporary performance in the District,” according to its web site.
“It’s a really inexpensive way to get a good venue and a lot of publicity for your work,” said Garcia.
Garcia lives by the philosophy that there are two kinds of friends she has: People that she’s met, and people that she has yet to meet.
“And there’s always a story,” she said. ”So when when someone tells me something, I always keep it in my weird repository of memory. I just remember everything, and then write a story in my head.”
Featured photo: Playwright Cristina Garcia with her husband, Felix Perez. Photo by Julie Wiatt