On Monday, the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) announced an open call for ideas for our next round of programming, which runs March 2020 through December 2023. Over the past six years, the LTC has produced eleven convenings for regional, national, and international cohorts of participants, edited the online journal Café Onda (which has now been incorporated into the HowlRound Journal), hosted the María Irene Fornés Institute to celebrate the living legacy of one of the American theatre’s greatest playwrights and teachers, created a production initiative called El Fuego, and put our Steering Committee members through the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism® Training. We are currently publishing our first book with Northwestern University Press (our second book overall), and on 24-26 January 2019, we will produce our first event focusing on work for young people: the 2019 LTC TYA Sin Fronteras Festival and Convening. We’ll also be focusing on the South Florida Latinx theatre community at our thirteenth convening, the 2019 LTC Miami Regional Convening in July 2019 (exact dates TBA).
What’s after that? That’s where we need your help.
The LTC has always been an open movement for Latinx and allied theatre practitioners of all stripes to come together, gather resources, and put those resources towards radical actions that cultivate, celebrate, and challenge our community. We try to be as decentralized as possible and spread the power that comes with access to foundation funding, relationships with gatekeepers, and name recognition. The exact number of people “in” the LTC is hard to track; there are no dues or membership pledges. If you want to be in the Commons, you’re in. And once you’re in, we simply ask that you change your approach from, “Look at what they’re doing!” to, “What can we do better?”
The LTC has a Steering Committee (which anyone can join), which does the lion’s share of gathering resources and engendering impact via our projects. Over the past six years, the LTC has selected a suite of programming two and a half times. The first was in May 2012 at the first gathering of the “DC Eight.” At that gathering, the LTC had not yet been formed, but the eight practitioners present (Kristoffer Diaz, Dr. Anne García-Romero, Lisa Portes, Tlaloc Rivas, Antonio Sonera, Enrique Urueta, José Luis Valenzuela, and Karen Zacariás) knew they could marshal their collective resources to create opportunities for connection. They decided to raise money for a larger gathering of Latinx artists, which became the 2013 LTC First National Convening. Tlaloc Rivas and Anne García-Romero had been collaborating on an online journal on Latinx theatre called “Café Onda,” which they decided to continue with greater infrastructure alongside HowlRound’s journal. Jose Luis Valenzuela already knew he and his company, the Latino Theater Company, were set to produce a national Latina/o theatre festival in fall 2014; would the LTC like to produce a convening alongside it? And Lisa Portes, head of the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University, had access to DePaul’s new theatre building; could this nascent alliance of Latinx theatre practitioners produce a new play “Carnaval” celebrating Latinx voices?
And we did! By July 2015, all of these projects had been completed, which left the Steering Committee asking, “What do we do next?”
Up to that point, the LTC had been operating at lightning pace, but without a clear sense of how to bring new people in. We had been focused nationally, leaving some regions behind. In early summer 2015, the Steering Committee decided to remedy both of these issues by hosting two regional convenings in areas previously overlooked by the LTC—the 2015 LTC Texas Regional Convening and the 2016 LTC Pacific Northwest Regional Convening—and use some of this time to gather as a Steering Committee. I’m counting the addition of these two regional convenings as the “half” in the decision making process—while the need was real enough that the Steering Committee came to consensus on planning these events, we did not go through a formal selection process for them.
Flash forward to spring 2016. We put out a call for formal proposals for future LTC Programming. We discussed these proposals at our 2016 LTC Pacific Northwest Convening in Seattle in a consensus-based model, going back and forth to figure out how to make the most events happen. Nearly all of the proposed projects came out of the LTC Steering and Advisory Committees, and for where the LTC was in our development that time, that was probably the right decision. From this process, we agreed to a series of projects, including the 2016 LTC NYC Regional Convening, the 2017 LTC International Convening at the 2017 Encuentro de las Américas International Theatre Festival, the 2018 LTC María Irene Fornés Symposium, the 2018 LTC Carnaval of New Latinx Work, the 2019 LTC TYA Sin Fronteras Festival and Convening, the 2019 LTC Miami Regional Convening, and the publication of Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater edited by Dr. Trevor Boffone, Dr. Teresa Marrero, and Dr. Chantal Rodriguez. It was an ambitious plan, and we are currently over two-thirds of the way through it. Now, it’s time to think, once again, about the future.
And that’s why we come to you. We’re opening up the submission process to all in our growing community, because by this time, our mission is clear. We’re casting a wide net to garner the strongest, most radical ideas. The LTC does the work that one company or individual cannot do alone. We’re intentionally asking for ideas, not proposals, though we are open to fully developed proposals. We hope that through your ideas, we can continue collaborating across the continent and across traditional "roles" in the theatre to fill in the gaps, to create opportunities, and to cultivate and unearth the wealth and abundance of our community.
If you want to submit an idea, you do not need to be a current LTC Steering Committee member, and you can submit multiple ideas. We want the widest breadth of our community reflected in our work. We encourage you to think expansively and outside the box. Do not worry about whether the "format" of your idea fits the LTC; focus on content. Consider the resources you already have access to, including organizations, spaces, people, and potential partners. Our community is rich with resources, but we don't always utilize them to their full potential. How does your idea celebrate and benefit from the abundance around us?
Finally, we’re particularly curious to hear why the LTC should be the group to carry your idea forward. To learn more about us and our programmatic strategies, read our mission, vision, and values. To read more about what kind of work we’re looking for, how to submit your idea, or to join an Informational Session, check out our Future Programming page on the website. We look forward to hearing from you!