"...the narration by poet and playwright Magdalena Gomez is stirring and provocative."
Isthmus, The Daily Page, Madison, WI.
To learn more about Magdalena:http://www.masslive.com/living/index.ssf/2012/03/international_womens_day_magdalena_gomez_artist_citizen_of_the_world.html
Performing at Poet's Passage in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Below, in performance with the Caliente! Tour (featuring baritone saxophonist, Fred Ho and the late raulrsalinas, revolutionary poet)
Scene from Magdalena's off-broadway production of Lobster Face (or the shame of amanda cockshutt
Scenes from Magdalena's award winning, The Andalusian Dream, directed by Jill Forbath
History: I've been a performance poet since 1971. My first performance was at the Dramatis Personae Theater in NYC on West 14th Street. I shared the stage with a round bed covered in pink satin sheets - Sunday afternoons the theater created venue for poets. My first audience included legendary beat poets, actors, literary salon mavens and men in pink fishnet body suits preparing for the evening show who applauded my work with gusto and finger snaps. I was seventeen years old and I've been performing ever since.
Humor and horror share the same space in my work. Audiences seem to love it or hate it - no wishy-washy responses yet. I've been called a "provocateur," "controversial" "revolutionary," "radical," "a diva" and am often the subject of gossip, malicious and otherwise, and I like it. At least when people are wagging their tongues they're engaged with each other - although I'm sure I've been insulted by text message. Almost as good as a NY Times review. I've also been called a "creative genius" by many, but so far, the MacArthur Award letter hasn't arrived in the mail.
The intention in my work is to incite higher order thinking, visceral responses and the desire to take action against injustice. I will bring theater anywhere at anytime; when you least expect it; you may not know that's what's happening. In the early 90's I had friends in AIDS wards in NYC. Since I live in Massachusetts now, the visiting hours weren't convenient. I costumed myself in religious attire and had 24/7 access to the wards, visiting friends and strangers alike - engaging life front and center as the Grim Reaper stared from the bedpans. I never lied about my ecclesiastical status because no one ever questioned me; they just believed the visual.
One of my most unforgettable experiences was a clown. (I volunteered from time to time as a clown for the young children of the incarcerated or in hospitals and would then spend the rest of the day riding buses and trains, stirring things up for the 9-5 crowd. I no longer think much of clowns or mimes.) I was fairly good at making balloon animals and made some for the "working girls" that used to line 8th Avenue in NYC before Guiliani's Operation Sanitize All the Character Out of Times Square Ka-ching-Ka-ching-Ka-ching, and porn exploitation was replaced by Disney exploitation. So, I made a poodle out of balloons, gave it to one of the women, and she just fell into my arms weeping. I will never forget what she said, her face smeared with dissolving make-up: "This is the first time in my life anyone has ever given me anything without wanting something back." I was stunned by the eternal feeling of that moment. The unitive experience of shared grief and absolute presence. We wept in each other's arms, and this woman of collapsed veins and ripped stockings, taught me the power of unconditional love.
I believe in living every day as a full lifetime and using art as a multi-faceted tool for justice and the dismantling of oppression with humor, the abyss called Truth and the love that arrives of it's own accord in response. If I ever make you feel complacent and comfortable with my art, then I hope you will gossip even more and ruthlessly. Send an e-mail blast, an obituary announcing the death of my soul.
I thank you, Estados Unidos
for all of your insults;
they have become my poems.
Excerpt from: Why I Became a Loud Puerto Rican (and other impolite stories)
Performance at the University of Illinois, Chicago campus. Photo by James Lescault.
Monthly arts salon held in Magdalena's home as part of Teatro Vida's artist networking opportunities.
Above with NYC actor, producer and TV personality, Rhina Valentin.
Performing with Jimmy Lopez at a Benefit for Jezabel Montero's film:
BLONDES ARE LATIN TOO
Magdalena is featured in the film.
With Poet Victor Hernandez Cruz in the early 90's
This day was a celebration of a new anthology we were in:
Puerto Rican Writers at Home in the USA, at the home of the editor, Dr. Faythe Turner, who plays in five Dixieland bands and climbed Mount Kilamanjaro when others her age were contemplating retirement.
Poetry Performances (partial list)
(* denotes return engagements)
*Lasell College, Newton, MA.; President's Inaugural Poet
Chicago Arts Institute, for playwright Ruth Margraff's graduate students in the Writing Program;
Panelist/Performer, Black Women Playwrights Conference, Evanston, Illinois, Moderated by Regie Cabico;
Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT with Fred Ho
Alumni Club, Springfield, MA Benefit for Partners in Global Health
Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA, Benefit for Partners in Global Health
Elms College, Ferociously Yours: Poetry as Resistance, Director and Performer;
Benefit for Doctors for Global Health, Bruckner Grill, Bronx, NY;
Jaguar Dreams: Each Day A Lifetime, Augusta Savage Gallery, UMass, Amherst;
*Performance Lecture on Japanese Internment, UConn, Storrs, CT.
*Brooklyn Academy of Music (with Baritone Saxophonist and Composer, Fred Ho)
University of Illinois, Chicago
Barnard College for Code Pink, NYC
San Francisco State Poetry Center (with raulrsalinas and Fred Ho)
*BAAD! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) Bronx, NY, BAAD! Ass Women's Festival
*New WORLD Theater, MA.
*University of Tennessee, Knoxville
*Hampshire College, MA
*Berkshire Community College, MA
*Mount Holyoke College, MA
*Holyoke Community College, MA
*Bunker Hill Community College (with saxophonists, Ted Levine and Fred Ho)
University of Minnesota (with raulrsalinas and Fred Ho)
*Berkshire Community College, MA.Mass Mutual Financial Services, Latino Month Celebration, Springfield, Marriott
*Amherst College, MA.
Julia de Burgos Center, NYC (Benefit for Rokafella-Kwikstep Full Circle Productions)
St. John the Divine, NYC
Boricua College, Brooklyn, N.Y.
*University of Washington, Tacoma
*Hunter College, NYC
Perdue University, Ohio
Oberlin College, Ohio
*Green Street Arts Center, Limelight Series, (Wesleyan)
Wellesley College, MA.
Simmons College, Boston
Traprock Peace Center
*American Friends Service Committee, Northampton, MA
*University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Barnard College with Code Pink
Carlito's Cafe, East Harlem, NYC
Union Theater, Madison, WI.
Palmer House, Chicago, IL.
Wisteriahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA.
Latina Letters Conference, San Antonio, Texas
*Augusta Savage Gallery, University of Massachusetts
*University of Connecticutt, Storrs
Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, NYC, Benefit for Rokafella-Kwikstep
Jake's Saloon, East Harlem, NYC
*Lasell College, with Fred Ho, Newton, MA.
Northampton High School, Northampton, MA.
*Amherst High School, Amherst, MA.
Holyoke High School, Holyoke, MA.
Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT.
Penn State, Philadelphia, PA.
Harrisburg Community College, Harrisburg, PA.
WBAI, Perspective, NYC
*Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA.
*Quinsigimond Community College, Worcestor, MA.
*Upward Bound, Northfield Mount Hermon, MT. Hermon, MA
*Upward Bound, Salem State, MA.
T.R.I.O. conference, keynote and interactive workshop for over 500 students, Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, MA.
*Upward Bound, Lawrence, MA.
Upward Bound, University of Massachusetts
*Putnam High School, Springfield, MA.
Poet's Passage, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
David and Julia White Artist's Colony, Cuidad Colon, Costa Rica
Tres Mariscal, Sevilla, Spain
Shantivanam, Tanirpalli, India
*Old First Churches, Northampton, MA
Pregones Theater, NYC
...among countless others....
Partial list of venues where I was a regular performance poet from "back in the day" (70's - 80's)
NYC, the early 1970's:
Dramatis Personae Theater
The English Pub
East Harlem Music School
Off the Beat N' Path (Hoboken, NJ)
Poet Emilie Glenn's salons
St. Clement's Theater
St. Francis Xavier Church
(performed at several correctional facilities where she was also an assistant chaplain: Bayview Correctional, Brooklyn House of Detention, Arthur Kill Prison, among others)
Performing "Chopping" (yes, the way Mami said "shopping") at the Boston Women on Top festival:
Meeting Author and Activist, Luis J. Rodriguez at Hampshire College:
In performance with Fred Ho (www.bigredmediainc.com) at Berkshire Community College.
Magdalena with cast members of Gateless Gate: Women of the Scarred Earth, a dance theater work, inspired by Peggy Choy (www.kiproject), who commissioned her to write the script and perform the narration based on the horrors perpetrated against Asian women in WWII by the Japanese military who named them the "comfort women" and treated them as war supplies. Union Theater, Madison Wisconsin. www.kiproject.com
raulrsalinas, we will remember you
Poster from one of Magdalena's plays about the corporate takeover of media. Don Quixote meets Persephone, meets the Wizard of Oz.
Poster from one of her dark comedies on the impact of colonialism on human sexuality and familial relationships.
Painting of Magdalena by Rosa Ibarra, master Puerto Rican painter. Part of a private collection in Puerto Rico.
With Jezabel and Zully Montero on opening night of Lobster Face (or the shame of amanda cockshutt)
Actor Liam Torres (center), played the role of The Inquisitor, representing oppressive government in the guise of a 1950's school principal.
Dec 17, 2004 - Jan 2, 2005
INTAR 53 Theater, New York, NY "The Inquisitor (Liam Torres) the school's leader, delivers a tour de force performance, spouting unnervingly funny alliterative rants while stretching his oversize face into a leering, sadistic mask. His colleague Miss Kunkle (Jezabel Montero)...is equally breathtaking in a fearlessly obscene bathroom scene. ...Director, Daniel Jaquez, achieves the lewd, grotesque wit and violence of a George Grosz painting." -The New York Times
Produced by CALPULLI and Immediate Theatre Company, the play travels into the belly of a society that has lost its imagination and replaced it with fear. It tells the story of what happens to a non-conformist caught in her society's grinding gears where creativity, sexual orientation, embracing one's ethnic identity and any form of resistance to the status quo are punished as acts of subversion and treason. Amanda's ability to feel has been nullified and everything that she values seen as a threat to the State.She falls in love with her Elvis - a school custodian named Joe Bliss, and together they defy the ever-present fascist shadow of the "Inquisitor" and the abuses of a monstrous school teacher, Miss Kunkle, regaining the original innocence of fearless love and living. This is her journey of reclaiming her true self as she swims against the tide.
"Blending Ionesco's absurdist use of language, Lorca's flights of poetry and Christopher Durang's sense of the comically ridiculous, Magdalena Gomez creates a strangely fascinating evening of theater...Yetta Gottesman (gives) a quietly commanding performance..." - American Theater Web
Sets & Props: Susan Zeeman Rogers
Lighting: Yael Lubetzky
Costumes: Ruth Pongstaphone and Sarah Maiorino
Music & Sound: Jane Shaw
Stage Management: Christine D. Goutmann
Produced by José Zayas
Miss Kunkle...Jezabel Montero
Mr. Peck...Gerardo Rodriguez
Miss Kettle...Peggy Trecker
Promotional poster for Caliente Tour with Fred Ho and raulrsalinas, designed by Yvonne Mendes of New WORLD Theater:
After a performance and lecture at Hampshire College.
C.V. available upon request: also includes play productions, publications and directorial credits.