The Intersection of Identity and Art

By Elizabeth Sumoza 

As a 3rd year student at Ohio Wesleyan University studying Sociology/Anthropology and Theatre (with minors in History and Spanish), it was really exciting to be invited to be a part of an internship with Professor Nieto-Cuebas, an Associate Professor at OWU. My name is Elizabeth Sumoza, and I am one of five people who were a part of the Siglo Latinx project in New York, alongside fellow OWU student Madison Cartnal, professor Erin Cowling  from MacEwan University and doctoral student  Natalia Soracipa from the University of Calgary in Canada

The Siglo Latinx project studies present adaptations of Golden Age Spanish plays by and for latinx artists. The role that this specific internship had in the Siglo Latinx project involved a trip to NYC, funded by OWU’s Small Grant Program (SIP), to work on La Monja Alférez, a play adapted by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, directed by Daniel Alonso de Santos, and put on by Teatro Círculo. Teatro Círculo is a not-for-profit theatre company that focuses on producing works by both past and present Latinx artists. This is particularly meaningful to me because I am a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan artist who aspires to be a part of the theater industry. Being in a space that values my cultural heritage is exciting, especially when I get to share that passion with a community of people who share my identity and have the same cultural vocabulary. The play that Teatro Círculo was putting on meant a lot to me as a queer person as well because I got to see my identity represented in a culture that isn’t traditionally accepting of changes to the status quo. 

At first, Israel, the production director,  put us to do smaller tasks while he and the technical director, Omayra Garriga, prepared the stage for the final technical rehearsals. These tasks included steaming the costumes to free them of any wrinkles, which was especially important to contrast the wealthy characters with characters who were less fortunate and didn’t have to appear as clean-cut. We also reorganized all of the chords that were used for lights and sound after the stage was prepared for tech rehearsals, and we helped clean the stage at the end of the week for the final performance, which was happening that weekend. 

Closer to the night of performances, I got to help out with some lighting issues that they were having. When we arrived, Israel and Omayra were in the process of rewiring all of the lightbulbs that they had hanging from the ceiling to create the effect of stars in the night sky into one channel so that all of the light bulbs could be controlled by one slider on the light board. However, once they had rewired the bulbs, there was a section of them that had completely burnt out and needed to be replaced. That section had not been programmed along with the other bulbs that had already been rewired, so when that section was replaced, I went to the lightboard to merge it with the light bulbs that had already been programmed. I found which cues used the light bulbs, matched the light intensity of the new section with the sections that were ready to go, and then merged the new light bulbs in with the existing cues so that all of the bulbs would come on and off at the same time. It was really fun to learn about programming cues and get the chance to operate the board. After that, Omayra asked me to attach a clamp to a projector so that she could hang it and project the overtitles for the show. Those were the two big things that I felt really proud of doing because it was so different from the spheres of theatre that I’m used to working with. 

I’m a Theatre major, but I’m a lot more well-versed in thinking about performance elements than I am with technical elements. I chose this major because I wanted to go into acting after I graduated, but now I’m really excited to add knowledge of operating the light board and managing the technical elements to my repertoire so that I can be open to more kinds of opportunities in my career.