Stepping into Magic: an actor's journey…

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" ~William Shakespeare

Stepping Into Sónya

Waiting for “places” call at the top of Act III for a Tech rehearsal of Uncle Vanya,
backstage of The Pasadena Playhouse.
Photo captured by Hugo Armstrong

My first introduction to the work of Anton Chekhov was during a text analysis class at USC lead by the late, great Jack Rowe. It was my first semester of the MFA in acting program and we spent almost three weeks reading different translations of The Seagull. I was fascinated at the meticulousness that Jack used while combing through the various texts, noting here and there what a difference a word can make, how one translation may lend itself to give more context to a character, how the rhythm of the translations can change the pace and tone of the play. In our second year of the program we worked with the phenomenal Stephanie Shroyer on scenes from Chekhov. I played IRINA ARKADINA, a successful stage actress with a strained relationship with her son in The Seagull. Stephanie focused on how our relationship with the architecture of the set can help convey our intentions and emotions on a deeper level. In our third year of the program we performed Three Sisters as part of our three play repertory. I had the honor of playing MASHA under the direction of my now mentor Kate Burton. During rehearsals, backstage and onstage I read Anna Karenina while exploring my character who was navigating loneliness, longing and infidelity. My first professional play out of graduate school was El Nogalar at The Fountain Theatre in LA. Playwright Tanya Saracho adapted Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard from Russia to the Mexican state of Michoacán on a Pecan Orchard. I played DUNIA, a very observant and feisty maid, based on the original character of DUNYASHA.

Looking back on my history with Anton, I realize how much his work has influenced my love of text analysis, character development and uncovering universality in plays from different cultures. And now I get to perform the role of SÓNYA in my first professional Chekhov production of Uncle Vanya at The Pasadena Playhouse directed by Michael Michettie.

Cast of Uncle Vanya: L-R: Hugo Armstrong (Vanya), Anne Gee Byrd (Marya) Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz (Elena) SZV (Sónya)
Brandon Mendez-Homer (Astrov) Jayne Taini (Marina) Brian George (Serebryakov) Director Michael Michetti

There is something about the characters, the existential crisis, the land, love and loss that Chekhov creates, that crosses cultural lines with connection and relevance. First produced in 1899, Uncle Vanya still speaks to audiences today, young and old alike. For a wonderful read about the timeliness of Chekhov’s work check out an article by Charles McNulty in the LA TIMES: Commentary: How Anton Chekhov became the playwright of the moment. You can take a read of one translation of an Uncle Vanya script HERE. (*Please note this is not the translation we have used for our production, to read the first 5 pages of that translation, with an option to uncover the rest of the text by joining Course Hero, click HERE)

Now on to SÓNYA…

As you will see in Chekhov plays the characters are introduced with a number of names; nicknames, some formal and informal and some names of endearment.

To read more about understanding Russian names click HERE.

SÓFYA ALEXÁNDROVNA (Sónya, Sónechka, Sóyushka, Sophie)

Sonya notices Dr. Astrov in Act I ( In the background are Brian George and Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

Sófya means “wisdom” from ancient Greek “sophía/σοφία.

Most everyone in Uncle Vanya calls me Sónya, with the exception of our Nanny who calls me Sónechka, Dr. Astrov address me in public as Sófya Alexándrovna, and my step mother, Elena, calls me Sophie only once. These little clues can give so much information to us as actors to understand our relationships with and towards others. Nanny has known me most of my life and uses her nickname as a term of endearment, whereas Elena chooses to use my French name, Sophie, as a means of respect and to begin an important conversation about our strained relationship. Dr. Astrov uses my full name as a formal and respectful address. Most everyone else calls me Sónya, which I’ve interpreted as her childhood nickname after a conversation with my castmate who plays Elena. We examined just two lines from the play and it turned into an entire investigation of how we are all addressed by others. Playing this character and looking at the world through her eyes gives me a taste of being someone who is often overlooked for her contributions and usefulness. Making note of how people address me, talk about me when I am in the room, or avoid talking about me, gives me nuggets of her character that I am able to weave into my work each night. The table work during rehearsals for this production was so rich, inquisitive and seemingly endless, the type of work I love to sink my teeth in to.

Dressing Room placard

As the play opens we meet Sónya upstage right, sitting on the piano bench playing a guitar and singing a song that she composed. This concept is not in the original script but straight from the imagination of our director Michael Michetti. This translation cut a specific character that plays the guitar through out the story and Michael felt that he wanted to keep that instrumentation, and that Sónya was the character that made most sense to execute his idea. To be honest, this scared me when I got the audition for the role. “I have to sing a song, AND play guitar?!?”

I have been playing guitar for over a decade now, and I song along, but usually just to myself or a few people. And I have had to sing in plays before: as FRIDA KAHLO in Still Life by Harry Clark, I had to sing a beautiful mournful ballad in Spanish, accompanied by live guitar, while drinking pulque with Georgia O’Keefe; as the GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST, Ebenezer’s mother in Kevin Moriarty’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, I sang a longing version of Auld Lang Syne, again accompanied by a professional guitarist, as well as being a part of the cast chorus that would sing numerous Christmas carols through out the play. In You Never Can Tell by George Bernard Shaw, the whole cast sang By The Sea as I strummed along on the Uke. However, this is the first time I would be playing the instrument and singing by. my. self.

For the audition I played my own version of Angel from Montgomery by John Prine. It is one of the few songs I knew by heart at the time of the audition and I felt the lyrics had echoes of the longing and tone of Uncle Vanya’s world

Image found on Google that shows the chords I use to play this classic song.

I submitted my audition via self-tape which included two of Sónya’s monologues and a video of me playing guitar and singing the song. When I received the callback for the role I was relieved that we were able to do it live via Zoom. I was able to work on the two monologues with the director as the casting director and the artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse observed. I had prepared another song on guitar to try and show some range. Again, I chose a song that had a wistful tone: Flowers in December by Mazzy Star, however they didn’t need me to play again since they already had the video of the first song. Now it is part of my 5 song repertoire that I play as a warm-up before each show. (The others include: Fever by Peggy Lee, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Blood and Fire by the Indigo Girls and of course Angel from Montgomery.)

Chorus Lyrics of Flowers in December by Mazzy Star

We worked with an incredible composer, Amanda Leigh Jerry, to create Sónya’s song. The music that also scores the play over the speakers when Sónya isn’t playing live is rooted in this original song. It is based on a Russian poem by Anna Akhmatova, that our director found, a copy of which adorns my dressing room collage of images, cards and words.

When I first received the tutorial video of the song I was terrified. She composed a song that required finger plucking, whereas I was only used to basic strumming, and her voice was like an angel, they key felt so far away from my comfortable range. After two days of stress dreams and a few tears I realized I was learning it, slowly but surely. 48 hours after receiving the video I was able to stumble through the three moments in the play where I sit on stage and play and sing. Over time the muscles in my hand started to ache less and less and I was able to take my eyes off my fingers and play the progression. I had a live meeting with Amanda over Zoom and her positivity really helped boost my confidence. She gave me some tips and tricks and along with gentle and helpful reminders from my director I was able to execute Sónya’s song. Now, don’t get me wrong, every night I am on the verge of a panic attack just before curtain, to have to be the one to launch the start of a show, singing and playing the guitar is a nightmare and very uncomfortable. However, over the past weeks of our run I find that every night is different as I step into Sónya’s skin and sit on that piano bench and play. Sometimes I mess up a little bit, or my voice is a little off key, but I remember that I, as Sónya, am sitting alone in my house, telling a story through song that I “wrote” and am working on. In Act II, I sit up stage left as other characters enter, and I am still in my own space, alone and singing. For Act III, I play on stage in front of my Uncle and Stepmother and by this point I am warmed up and confident enough to play in front of people. Sónya, like myself, learns, creates and eventually shares her gift of story through song.

Top of Act III: Brian George (Serebryakov), Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz (Elena) and SZV as Sónya playing on our beautifully gifted Gibson,
a left handed steel string acoustic guitar that I have nicknamed IZZY (short for Izquierda, left-handed in Spanish)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

One of the most fascinating aspects of Sónya as a character is when she speaks and when she doesn’t. There is a lot of analysis online about this particular character, her desolation, depression and lack of action, most of which I didn’t find helpful or necessary for this journey. Instead, I leaned on the text, listened to what others say about her and flew from there. In Act II, there is a late night scene between Dr. Astrov and Sónya, by now the audience has learned that she is very much in love with the Doctor and we have learned that he has fallen out of love with life. His character has a lot of language in this scene and she every so often just speaks a line or two. In the latter half of Act III Sónya doesn’t speak for seven pages! It is in the moments of silence that I find gems about this character almost as much as through the lines that others say in reference to her and those that she speaks herself. There is also one very curious moment where I speak directly to the audience, and this happens right after my almost silent scene with Dr. Astrov. The audience’s reactions and or responses to that soliloquy influence my journey night to night.

Sónya adresses the audience.
Photo by Jeff Lorch

One of the most stressful parts of the audition for this role, besides the singing and guitar playing, was that I was asked to do the final monologue of the whole play. Sónya, having lost so much, revealed so much, decides to contain her hurt and emotion as much as she can to tell Uncle Vanya that there is still hope. The tone of this final moment cannot be determined in a vaccume, but as an actor auditioning, I had to make a choice. What I appreciated most is that the director worked with me during the callback to give me an aspect of her mindset and we just got to play. It is a very well known monologue that has been done all over the world, in many languages and adaptations and my job is to make it feel as though I have never said these words before. It is a beautiful challenge, night after night to travel to this moment in the play. I try to keep in mind the direction of Michael Michetti who reminded me that although we are in a large theatre, I cannot forget the intimacy of that moment, my direct connection with my Uncle. There is no need to proclaim or force the lines just because it is the last moment of the play, I simply have to believe, breath and speak from my heart.

Vanya (Hugo Armstrong) and Sónya (SZV) in the final scene of the play.
Fun fact about this play: I am the only character that addresses Iván Petróvich Voinítsky as Uncle Vanya, the title of the play.
Photo by Jeff Lorch

This play goes deep, and although it is not a heavy drama, there are moments that stay with me as I walk off the stage for different scenes, especially right after the end of Act III. The second half of the play, Act III and IV are filled with pent up emotions and truths that bubble to the surface and explode all over the stage and pierce the hearts of all involved. The clean up is painful, rewarding and promising, but there are still questions and reflection. There is a lot of hope in this play, at least from the lens of Sónya, and I cling to that when the other emotions begin to drag me, Sabina the actor, down. There are personal experiences that echo with the play and ignite memory. As performers we conjure this emotion, night after night, and we also have to know what to do with it after we walk off stage.

My view of the empty house during my warm-up

To prepare for this show each night I do a physical and vocal warm-up on stage, looking at the empty house and wondering who will join us to hear this story. I play my songs on the guitar and give a kiss to the set before heading down to the dressing room. Once I get down there it is time to get into my body microphone and Act I costume. I listen to music (Billie Holiday, Miya Folick, Aaron Frazier) and sing along, I spray rose water everywhere, look at the images I have taped up around my dressing station, hold crystals close to my heart and breathe.

A brief timelapse of weaving my body mic into my hair, doing vocal warm-ups, running lines and applying Sónya’s simple makeup.

One of my favorite moments in live theatre is when the actors leave the stage after curtain call and meet up backstage on their way to get out of costume. We share grunts, and sounds and laughter and recount little weird things that went astray, whatever the expression, we release. We head down to the green room and everyone steps into their dressing room and out of their character. For my after show playlist I cycle between Black Sabbath Vol 4, & The Pixies Doolittle. I unbraid my hair and put it up, trade out Sónya’s jewlery for my own, hang up her dresses and turn off the lights and say goodnight.

Then we do it all again the next day.

Hanging with Hugo at “places” before Act III
Photo by Giselle Vega, our amazing Assistant Stage Manager.

For tickets and show times please visit The Pasadena Playhouse and join us for this very special production running through June 26th, 2022!

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Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore…

As we are all reflecting on the last week that was ‘normal’ two years ago, I finally feel the urge to write about four of my USC MFA professors that have passed on during these pandemic times. None of them died from Covid, yet I keep feeling that any loss during these times have an added weight, maybe it’s the weight of the over 6 million souls whose minutes hastened to their end…

Sonnet 60

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d,

Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight,

And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth

And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,

Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:

And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,

Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

Clockwise: Charlotte Cornwell, Andrei Belgrader, Jack Rowe, Michael Keenan.

APRIL 30, 2020

Michael Keenan

Amielynn Abellera as Irina and Michael Keenan as Chebutykin in Three Sisters, Directed by Kate Burton USC 2011

Michael Keenan was an absolute delight to be around. In our third year we had a class with Keenan that would invite guest artists, casting directors and alumni to come in and talk about their experiences in the industry. It is where I first met Kate Burton who is now one of my closest mentors. Having the space to just talk with others who have lived the lives of creatives helped me to envision the real possibilities of being an actor, not just dreaming about it. Micheal had us create a one, five and ten year plan for ourselves and looking back over the 11 years I have been out of graduate school I am happy to report that I have almost accomplished all of my list items. (I still have yet to be directed by the great Robert Woodruff in a greek drama, but there is still time…) My most cherished memories of Keenan are from our production of Three Sisters, directed by Kate Burton in our final year of graduate school. We were blessed to have three veteran theatre greats perform with us: Natsuko Ohama, the late Jimmy Greene and Michael Keenan. He played the sweet and sour Chebutykin with profound depth end energy, delivering his final lines “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter,” with a knowing only a seasoned professional could understand. He also donated one of his residual checks to our class so that we could rent a samovar to serve tea and treats for a matinee performance for industry guests.

After I graduated from USC Keenan would invite me back year after year to speak with the current MFA acting students and I would repeat his advice back to them: Every day do three things, one thing for your business (send an email, update your website, memorize a monologue,) one thing for your environment (make your bed, wash the dishes, dust the shelves) and one thing for yourself (paint your nails, go for a walk, take yourself to lunch or a museum.) Words that I have kept in my arsenal of tips and tricks for navigating an artist’s life. I really miss his smile, his laughter and joyful face when he got excited about the work. My first class at USC last semester was in PED 204, the same classroom we had with Keenan; all semester I kept waiting for him to walk through the door and begin class.

June 24th, 2020

Jack Rowe

The last time I saw Jack Rowe at his USC retirement celebration

“Jack Rowe, Rowe, Rowe your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, read the text again!” Our MFA class made up songs for most of our professors. Jack taught us script analysis in our first year and in our second year he directed us in a production of The Triangle Factory Fire Project.

Cast of The Triangle Factory Fire Project with Director Jack Rowe USC 2009

Jack was a USC alum and he started teaching there the year I was born! He even recounted a time when Jim Morrison showed up to see a USC play and celebrate with the cast with a case of bourbon. I fell in love with Chekhov in Jack’s class. He would have us read three different translations of the same play and go over every word with a fine tooth comb. He was a guitar playing, motorcycle riding theatre nerd. We quickly developed a friendship that was rooted in talking about classic rock and the intricacies of scripts and productions. His office was my haven when I was tasked with choosing scenes for our graduate showcase. He would suggest dozens of scenes off the top of his head and then locate the scripts in his shelves and entrust me with his personal texts.

After I graduated I would visit Jack in his office anytime I was on campus, and he always greeted me with a gracious and sparkling smile. One time he treated me to lunch at one of the faculty only lunch halls and we talked for almost two hours. Every time I visited with Jack he would want to know about all of my ups and downs out in the real world. He would talk about his current students and the state of theatre at that moment and we would just nerd out about our craft. On the last day that I saw him, at his retirement celebration, I was in awe of the number of students from decades ago who showed up to honor him. The speeches were so moving and proved how endlessly supportive he was of his students and the deep impact he had on so many of us. When the speeches were over and the mingling began I finally found a moment to chat with him one on one, and though he was drastically changed due to illness I saw that spark in his eye when he recognized who I was. Our conversation was brief, but one that I will always cherish.

January 16th, 2021

Charlotte Cornwell

A loving embrace from Charlotte on closing night of our Three Play rep at USC 2011

The morning I found out Charlotte passed away I was in snowy northern New Mexico. I threw on my clothes, jacket, scarf, and hat, grabbed my walking stick and trekked out into the snow covered land. My tears were warm on my cold face and the day was so bright. I encountered a hawk crying out up in a tall pine tree and I cried along with them. This one hurt so deeply, so profoundly. At this point I thought I was numb to all of the losses around the world and the state of things, but the news about Charlotte proved me wrong. It broke me open. Even know as I type these words my eyes are welling up with tears and blurring the screen. Perhaps it’s because I can’t remember the last time I saw her? Perhaps it’s because I just reread all of our Facebook interactions and my heart yearns to read her words again? Perhaps it’s because of the staggering support and guidance she gave me over so many years that helped me fall in love with this lifestyle and continue to run in this marathon of a career? All of the above and more.

I first met Charlotte when I stepped into the USC classroom to audition for the MFA program. She and Andy Robinson invited me to sit down and chat before I delivered my monologues. Her gaze was penetrating, full of curiosity, wonder and openness. For the next three years she helped me fall in love with Shakespeare. She gifted me with the roles of Isabella from Measure for Measure, Ophelia from Hamlet and Rosalind from As You Like It. I was terrified each and every time, and she pushed me harder and harder each time. Encountering each role I felt like I didn’t know how to swim and she would just lovingly throw me in the ocean. Eventually I would find out how to navigate the water, slowly, incrementally, in steps as she coached me from the shore. We would live in one role for an entire semester digging deeper and deeper into the marrow of each character. Our second year she beautifully directed us in The Merchant of Venice and watching her work with my classmates was a master class.

USC MFA Measure for Measure cast with director Charlotte Cornwell in 2010

When I was working on Rosalind, Charlotte shared a story from when she was playing that role at the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1978. Their production had a long run and she said the entire time she was searching for her character, trying to understand her intentions. Rosalind has the most lines of any female character by Shakespeare and the play itself is a complicated study in philosophy, human nature and self discovery. She said that on closing night she walked off the stage after the final scene, stopped in her tracks and said “Oh! Now I get it.” She didn’t share what it was she “got,” rather she shared how our work in creating and living in characters is never done, there are always questions and we must live in that space of the unknown to truly invite a beginner’s mind to the work. I still believe some of my best work was done in those classrooms with Charlotte, her inquisitive gaze over her glasses and the numerous times she would run her hand through her hair just before she gave a note. I often find myself repeating one of her rapid fire phrases “good, good, good, good, good,” when I watch my students explore and work. How I wish I could have told her I became a professor at USC, but I have a feeling she played a part in it from beyond.

Charlotte never missed my birthday on Facebook. Even thought she was an ocean away in England we were connected by the world wide web. One particular birthday, in 2013, she wished me well for my first season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She was currently working on an RSC production of Hamlet in the role of Gertrude and she wrote “Happy days! Miss you! Please keep me up to date with Oregon – tonight I discovered who Gertrude is – amazing!! xxx”

February 22, 2022

Andrei Belgrader

The first time I had a conversation with Andrei was right after I performed the role of Lucky in Waiting for Godot for my second year culmination project. To this day this was one of the hardest and most rewarding roles I have ever done, and it’s only a 4 minute monologue that I did one time. The text has some of the strangest and oddest gatherings of words and phrases I have ever encountered. Playwright Samuel Beckett insisted that under no circumstances could women play roles in Waiting for Godot, and to this day his estate still strives to keep his wishes. I knew this was a special opportunity that I wouldn’t get outside of our university classroom walls. I worked endlessly first to learn the text by heart and then to begin to unpack and understand the journey of the words. We were performing the scene in red noses, as part of a clowning unit in our movement class. For our final presentation I went to that other realm when performing, where the work takes over and the veil between character and self is lifted. As I walked out of the classroom and to towards my car Andrei walked up to me and we chatted on the way to the crosswalk. (At that point I didn’t know about Andrei’s theatre credits as a director, and his influential time teaching at Yale, Juilliard and UCSD, I only knew he was a master teacher and couldn’t wait to get to know him more. I had seen his production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot with the first USC MFA class of 2009 and was blown away.) In his gravely Romanian smoker’s voice he told me “You understood Lucky, you got it.”

Our final year at USC we were taking an acting for the camera class with Andrei and he also was directing our showcase. He had unique tips and tricks to bring authenticity and openness to working on film. He told us that when we want to deliver an engaged reaction or response to look at our scene partner and simply notice if they have a nose. In that simple action of searching for that answer we would notice our classmates faces instantly transform to an active listener and scene partner on the TV we had hooked up to a camera. When we were working with monologues on camera he would invite us to repeat the word “fish” over and over again, in our minds, while speaking to bring a disconnection and therefore a newness to a text that we knew like the back of our hands. He would take 5 minute smoke breaks that would turn into 20 because we would all be outside chatting about the ‘bizness’ and listening to him tell stories of the actors he’s worked with. I have seen so many of his USC productions and envied every cast that had the chance to be directed by him. I still regret that I never made it to NYC to see one of his plays. My classmate Jason Turner and I ended our showcase with a scene from the film Erin Brokovich where there is talk about a cup of sugar and he brilliantly suggested we play I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl by Nina to end the scene. It was perfect. Now every time I hear Nina Simone I think of him; I am pretty sure there was a Simone song in all of his productions?

Andrei, like Charlotte, never missed my birthday on Facebook for the past 11 years. My birthday is 10 days from today and I will dearly miss hearing from both of them. This past semester I had the honor of being on the USC faculty with Andrei. On our first day back with the MFAs we sat next to each other and briefly caught up. I saw his production of Stupid Fuc*ing Bird with the BFAs and once again was blown away and jealous of the time that cast had to create with him. I think the last time I had a good conversation with Andrei was after the MFA 2nd year’s solo performances, we stood aside the masses at the end of the show and remarked on how special this yearly right of passage was for all involved, faculty, students, alumni. We were in awe of our USC family, all under one roof celebrating the ancient art of telling stories and sharing ourselves with each other.

Here is a beautiful tribute to Andrei by his long time collaborator John Turturro. If you have a chance, check out the 1996 film Big Night and you can catch Andrei as the character Stash, the painter who pays for his meals with his artwork. He was a master, he loved his students, his productions were daring and hilarious, his loss has rippled through the entire theatre community and his voice will echo in my ears forever.

“Perhaps man has a hundred senses, and when he dies only the five senses that we know perish with him, and the other ninety-five remain alive.”
― Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

Today, and as I continue to walk the path of an artist, I celebrate these master artists who touched my soul and instilled in me an acute love of our craft. I do believe their senses continue to live in all of the students and theatre/filmmakers they’ve worked with, thousands of artists will continue to utilize their advice, remember their unique phrases and quirks, and never forget the special places in our hearts where they now reside.

Rest in power to these four stars, I can only imagine the dazzling art they are creating in the other realm amongst and with the stars.

From Page to Stage to Screen

Ten years ago we took a trip to Joshua Tree…

Nathan Singh, Sabina Zuniga Varela, O-Lan Jones, Megan Breen and Kristin Condon in Joshua Tree (Photo by Braden Moran)

In 2012, all graduates of USC’s School of Dramatic Arts, Nathan, Megan, Kristin and I created a theatre collective, By The Souls of Our Feet (BTSOOF), to enter the Company Creation Festival hosted by the Son of Semele Ensemble. Megan Breen, poet/playwright/educator, was asked by the founder and artistic director of Cock and Bull Theatre in Chicago, Chris Garcia Peak, to adapt a Grand Guignol play called The Final Kiss, which opens after a man has thrown acid on his lover’s face. Grand Guignol is a French form of theatre popular in the early twentieth century that was all about shock and horror. At the time she was writing, there had been several female on female acid attacks, so she decided to explore the violence between women by making both of the central characters female. She set the play in the stark, otherworldly desert of Joshua Tree, California, and more specifically, the Pioneertown Motel just outside Joshua Tree National Park.

I had been in LA for five years and was really missing being a part of a theatre company. Working with these three colleagues brought that spark back into my creative life. It was an incredible experience to collaborate and produce this unusual and visceral play. We visited Joshua Tree to take cast photos and put our feet on the earth where the play was set. Using Kickstarter we raised over 5k and collaborated with incredible artists to bring this play to life and to bring the desert into the theatre. Our set design was by the fantastic Rafa Esparza, production photos were captured by Braden Moran, and we added two legendary actors to the cast: Michael Harris and O-Lan Jones.

Under Nathan Singh’s direction we created a whole new world that immersed the audience in a wild ride filled with jealousy, violence, love, hurt, healing and mystical wildness. It was one of my favorite plays to perform in to this day. Part of it was because of the grassroots organizing we did to get this play from page to stage, but the other part was getting to play a character that was so devastatingly broken and deeply in love. There was a sensuality to the role of Jaymee that came from an animalistic core and her predilection for violence was both scary and thrilling. Playing opposite to Kristin Condon’s character of Henrietta was a dream as she is one of the best scene partners one could ask for.

Kristin Condon as Henrietta and Sabina Zuniga Varela as Jaymee in Joshua Tree (Photo by Braden Moran)

Now our little play that could has been turned into a film! Hard Knock Productions took on this project and the original cast was invited to once again visit the desert and weave this tale of broken love.

Here is the storyline from the film’s IMDB page: “Set in the desert-weird wilds of Joshua Tree, California, Serpentine Pink is a distinctively visceral and surreal independent, female-centric film that digs into the various and rigorous ways a heart heals from trauma. Inspired by France’s Grand Guignol style of horror theatre, and utilizing a lyrical language both visual and verbal to capture the strange poetry of the Mojave land and soundscape, Serpentine Pink follows a reclusive biker woman and her John Wayne-obsessed exotic dancer lover’s disturbing fallout after a violent acid attack. An ethereal psychic and her aspiring healer companion converge with supernatural forces in an attempt to confront and then heal the women’s – as well as their own – deep-rooted, personal pain that comes from trying to break the cycle of possessive love.”

In April of 2021 we were supported by an incredible crew who were mainly female creatives. Among all of the fabulous locations around Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley we got to shoot in the famous road house Pappy & Harriett’s!

Our camera framed by concert photos of performances that graced the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA

There is so much more to share about this experience, but I am going to save all the juicy behind the scenes stories and photos for another post when the film is released. For now I just wanted to celebrate that we have revealed one of our posters for the film AND our film earned the ReFrame Stamp! (“The ReFrame Stamp serves as a mark of distinction for projects that have demonstrated gender-balanced hiring.”) This project is a labor of wild love and I am so proud to have been on this desert journey with this amazing cast & crew. Follow Serpentine Pink on Instagram and Facebook for updates, contests and BTS content!

Stay Tuned for more announcements about our Neo-Noir Western Thriller!

“Creativity is a wild mind…

and a disciplined eye.” ~Dorothy Parker

Age 17 with an original doodle on my hand.

Since I can remember I have been drawing, doodling, painting, decorating and basically in love with color and patterns. Traveling with my Mom around the country for her board meetings and speaking events I had the chance to visit and revisit art museums in New York, D.C., Chicago, Boston, and more. Once we finished wandering the halls of great art we would bee- line it to the gift shop and I usually picked out a post card or a drawing utensil, anything that I could add to my artistic collection. While my Mom was working I would be under a table at a restaurant drawing, or in a back classroom desk doodling. Below, in two of the childhood drawings that are hanging in the hallway of my parent’s house, you can see my earliest signature, a mirror spelled mark of my first name, SABINA was ANIBAS in my young creative and dyslexic brain.

Some of my earliest artwork from pre-school and travels with Mom

I am most drawn to pastels above other art mediums, I think partly because it was also a preferred medium by one of my favorite artists Edgar Degas and other impressionists, but also because one of my greatest mentors Sam Taylor gave me my first set of pastels. A wooden box filled with broken chalk pieces, used and worn down from his own artist fingers. It was as if he handed me a box of lost treasure filled with jewels and gold.

The larger drawing is from age 13, the smaller from age 40

When I was 13 I had been taking art classes for about a year from an artist my mother had found for private lessons. I couldn’t remember her name but with a little sleuthing from my Mom we found her, Barbara Coleman, click on her name to visit her website and see her incredible work! Barbara encouraged me to keep working long after I thought I was done with a piece, “there is always more work to create in each piece, challenge yourself to keep going,” she would say when my adolescence would cause me to give up and say “I’m done,” which really meant “I’m bored.” It was one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about creativity, there is always more work to create, creativity is never truly “done.” That September I entered one of my pieces into the youth art category at the New Mexico State Fair and I won 2nd place! That drawing, titled “Celebration,” still hangs above my father’s recliner in the living room.

“Celebration” by SZV

When I was in college I realized I had a hard time listening to lectures and found that when I would doodle it would help me focus. Something happened to my brain when I would put pen, pencil or marker to paper and fill the margins and corners of my notebooks. Even recently while in virtual rehearsals and meetings I find myself reaching for scrap paper or envelopes to help keep my mind present and alert. Often times I look at the doodles I created and feel an ancient tie to the designs I’ve seen on sacred ruins in Mexico, petroglyphs in New Mexico or aboriginal artwork I’ve seen from Polynesian and Island cultures. There have been a few times during the early days of the pandemic, when I was surrounded by boxes and piles and pieces of my life while getting ready to move back home, that the early warning signs of a panic attack would rear its wild head. My weapon against this anxiety was to grab my art supplies and journal and began to let my hand lead the way out of the darkness.

Recent doodles creating during Zoom rehearsals and meetings.

Last fall while living in NYC, I took myself to a Blick’s art supply store in the Lower East side and bought a set of pastels and charcoal, a small sketch book and a canvas pouch with Frida blessing the front to put it all in. I went to a Mediterranean restaurant that had a live jazz trio playing, sat at the bar, ordered a glass of red wine and began my first pastel drawing in what probably had been about 10 years. Since then I’ve been slowly working on different pieces, inspired by nature and feelings. In the moments when I begin to feel the dread and worry about the future of my acting career, or the panic from the upcoming election and the pandemic, or the intense sorrow and grief from the many lives lost to the virus and violence, I grab my Frida pouch, sketch book and scatter the pastels out and let my hand lead. The feel of the chalk on my fingertips and the deepness of the colors and the intricateness of the designs begin to soothe my heart and freshen my spirit.

Contents of my artist pouch.

After creating a few pieces over my final weeks living in NYC I was invited to share something creative on the theme of hope by my dear friend Jess Goodwin who created the incredible organization The Major Lift. Below is the video I created that captured this wild and disciplined journey I have reignited in my day to day life.

Most recently, after a few conversations with loved ones, who were encouraging and excited about my work, I decided to take a leap and share my art! Just click on the image below to visit my artist shop on the Society6 platform. If you like what you see click on the “follow” tab to keep up to date with my new artwork and maybe order a piece to share with a loved one. Thank you for reading and I hope you like what you see 🙂

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~Edgar Degas

The Journey Home…

Below is a link to a short podcast I did recently for The Magic Theatre in San Francisco, and below that is the story of my journey home during this global pandemic.

(Please check out the other podcasts from The Magic Theatre, they include such artists as Paula Vogel, Luis Alfaro, Nilo Cruz, Sean San Jose and Yetta Gottesman!)

As I typed these words the wind outside created music with the wind chimes and birds while the cows and prairie dogs run free in the fields outside my windows in Northern New Mexico, my home.

This gypsy girl has settled her feet in the earth and a journey inward begins…

Enjoy!

I had planned a birthday trip home to New Mexico on the 17th of March, but as the news started coming in about Covid-19 and the shuttering began I quickly knew that traveling to see my parents was not an option, it was too risky. So I settled in to sequestering and monitored the numbers around the globe each day, startled to watch the exponentiality of it all, the devastation, the loss… The Loss.

So many people have passed away this year, a great harvest as my mother says when there are just too many beautiful people leaving this realm…

Naomi Licht, Terrence McNalley, Diane Rodriguez, John Prine, Tom McCracken, Michael Keenan… just to name a few. Not all passed from the virus, but all were life forces, legends, change makers, creators, lovers, parents, children, friends, family. So many friends of mine have lost parent’s and loved ones over the past couple of months and the weight of this collective grief is staggering.

Very soon I realized that I was being called home, I needed to be with my family, I had to leave LA. There is plenty of evidence that this is going to last a lot longer than we think and there is no “going back to normal.” New Mexico is going to be my shelter in this storm, (cue Bob Dylan) she always has been my safe place, my sanctuary and she is calling me HOME.

The universe sent me three special friends to create a circle of four to pack up all my belongings in a U-Haul cargo van, we were done in less than an hour. We gathered in my empty room and gave thanks and blessings for a safe trip and with happy tears I hit the road. Saying goodbye to my Boyle Heights apartment broke my heart, it had been a refuge, a home base for a crazy lifestyle, I will forever miss my green walls and my sweet roommates…

 

Somehow I had selected the “avoid highways” option on my GPS and found myself driving north out of LA, passing the Rose Bowl and then right through the Angeles mountains and Joshua trees near Victorville. I stayed a night in Arizona and landed in Albuquerque NM on Tuesday the 5th of May. After unloading everything into a storage unit, I had a backyard distant dinner with my folks (elk red chile, beans, homemade tortillas and a Tequila Marias my mom’s creation)  and then stayed in a hotel down the street. The next day I packed up my mom’s Subaru and hit the road again. Heading north to Rio Arriba county I found myself in wonder and excitement to be back in my home state.

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View of Pedernal Mesa behind Abiquiu Lake

The land here is phenomenal, it used to be only 200 miles north of the equator and was wet and swampy and tropical with little lizard/bird looking dinosaurs running in packs/flocks, but the earth shifted and became a high arid desert. I imagine that all the sage bushes and chamiza were once seaweed and coral, the highway runs along the bottom of what used to be a great lake or ocean…

I arrived at the house my father built, unlocked the door, walked inside and took a deep breath. This is home. I am home. After a few weeks of quarantine I will head back down to the city to hunker down with the folks, but in all honesty this house in Northern New Mexico has enchanted me deeply and I want to stay. I am starting to realize that this is my inheritance, this home, this land and it’s good to be here (Cue Digable Planets)

Los Angeles has a piece of my heart, por vida, and all of my tribe there have imprinted on me so strongly that I take their love and light everywhere I go. It’s not a goodbye, just a change in geography, a link that will become even stronger as I listen to what my land and home and blood and spirit are telling me during this solitude and silence.

It’s time to listen.

My plan was to make a video of my trip with footage along the 968 mile trip to share with you all, however there is no WiFi up here and my phone’s hot spot only supports simple online tasks.

So instead I wrote a poem:

 

The City of Angels, far away through a veil of nostalgia and love.

I wind along the serpentine road and find myself smiling.

The Joshua trees form stories with the metal electrical men.

It felt like I flew along that highway, climbing elevations and finding myself closer to the Rio Grande Valley.

A peacock fanned out his tail and called out to me on Matthew’s St, but this street is spelled with two “Ts”, my Boyle Heights calle only had one…

The journey continues North, the land changes and changes.

I am changing.

I am one with the road, tracking the mileage of my ups and downs, the vast terrains of my heart map.

I land in my land, I am in the house my father built, in the North where my mother cultivated and created.

I am home.

I am land.

Homeland.

The full flower moon rises and all that has been germinating and hibernating is growing with awakening.

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Self Portrait in the La Puente House

 

Thank you for reading.

I hope that you and your loved ones are happy and healthy.

I will be taking a break from Facebook and Instagram but you can reach me via email, text or phone.

Lot’s of love and light to you during this challenging time.

xo,

SZV

Here’s one of my favorite songs to celebrate returning to Mi Tierra Encantada

This 4th of July…

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Benjamin Luis McCracken(Acan), Alex Hernandez (Jason), Sabina Zúñiga Varela (Medea) and Socorro Santiago (Tita) Photo by Joan Marcus

Today the cast & crew of Mojada at The Public Theater in NYC have the day off. We’ve been deep in Tech rehearsals and have completed our first two preview performances. As we gear up to open on July 17th we will continue to work during the day, implementing changes, polishing moments and then sharing with more preview audiences. It’s been an incredible journey so far, one that I have been on for the past 7 years and yet today the themes of this play: immigration, love, sacrifice and trauma are just as relevant. Based on one of the first immigrant stories: Medea, this play tells the story of one family that gives up everything for the “American Dream.”

Click each poster image for a video history of the past productions:

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I started this blog post back in 2012 when I was first cast as Medea in Luis Alfaro’s inaugural adaptation of Medea titled BRUJA at The Magic Theater. It was my first professional Equity play and was a beautiful rite of passage into this life as an actor. Today I reflect on the honor it has been to live in the skin of Medea, to tell this story and to continue the dialogue about the atrocities that are happening at our border.

 Last night I couldn’t get to sleep, I fell down the rabbit hole of reading articles online about the conditions of the detention centers and migrant camps at our border. There is a line in our play where the character of Pilar tells Medea: “Don’t be selfish, Medea. If you took Acan with you, they would probably separate you and put him out in a cage in the desert somewhere. Is that you want? Do you want Acan to suffer? What can you give him? Do you want him to end up like you?”

On this Independence Day I can’t help but think of the mothers and children that have been stripped of their freedom, detained and held without water or soap, sleeping on cement floors with hollowed looks in their eyes and dried tears on their cheeks.

For me, there is nothing to celebrate today.

Not while these brothers and sisters are trapped in that scar we call a border.

Organizations to Donate to:

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MEDEA: They will never build a wall big enough. But they will always try. 

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A child’s drawing depicting time spent in US Customs and Border Protection custody.

Articles I came across last night:

‘Nothing Prepares You for the Inhumanity of It’ by Elaine Godfrey

‘How a lack of personal care products contributes to harrowing conditions for detained migrants’ by Stephe Grob Plante

‘The Unimaginable Reality of American Concentration Camps’ by Masha Gessen

‘Everything We Know About the Inhumane Conditions at Migrant Detention Camps’ by Matt Stieb

‘Pediatricians share migrant children’s disturbing drawings of their time in US custody’ by Elizabeth Cohen

 

 

 

 

Ringing in 2018, and a wish for you…

The moon rose up in the east, signaling her journey towards her fullest form.

Two cousins placed pennies on the train tracks, awaiting the physics that create shining smashed copper discs.

Grandaunties cuddled the newest addition to the tribe, connecting the full circle that is family.

These little ones are our future, making this world a better place, one new wonder at a time.

And these cousins are gonna take over the world, but after they finish their tea.

The older cousins enjoyed a night in with a spread fit for royalty: meats and cheese, bacon wrapped dates, pate and bubbly.

The Full Wolf Moon rose higher to watch the festivities around the globe, surrounded by her community of stars.

And tonight, my wish for you is:

No matter where you’ve been, where you are going, or what you desire, just know that you are loved. Today is a beginning, but it is also just a moment. A place-marker along our path of purpose. No pressure, just energy for growth! Find what you are passionate about, and do that as much as you can. Surround yourself with those that light your heart on fire and give new meaning to the word joy. Create your best self, throw that away and then do it again! Enjoy the ride. Take time to watch children play. Sit in silence. And gaze at the moon. She waxes and wanes, fills and empties, shines and dims, just like we do. So amidst the ups and downs, find comfort in the in-betweens…

That’s where the true fight resides, that place where you choose to keep going. Or that time you feel you can’t go on. We’ve all had plenty of both. But embrace the challenge: That moment when you remember what you are made of. Don’t give up. Ask for help. Bask in your strength. Help others. Be of service. Change, resist, learn, rebel, reclaim, create. Listen.

Happy New You.

Happy New Year.

All my love,

SZV

Winter Solstice…

I woke up this Winter Solstice morning– well to be honest it was afternoon…

(Side-note: I haven’t been sleeping well most of the year.  I have been living out of suitcases and boxes, traveling to Oregon, California, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania & New York, working on a role that has enhanced/exhausted my emotional capacity, and I think my body has finally decided to REST. My appetite has been limited as well, I just haven’t felt like eating much. Yet the minute I got home to NM I’ve been eating serving after serving of homemade meals, sleeping so soundly, and I realized that being home in New Mexico has shifted me into a mode of sustenance and recuperation.)

So, I woke up today and saw this post by my mom:

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Winter Solstice has been a special day for me and my mom for almost 20 years now. We would regularly take walks along the Rio Grande river since I was able to walk, with our various dogs (Chula, Simpre, Sola) throughout the years. We ventured to a particular spot  along the Bosque that had a little juniper tree growing amongst the cottonwood trees. At the beginning it was only about 2 ft tall, and today it is about 20 ft. I feel as if this tree and I have been growing together, like she is my Bosque sibling. (My name Sabina translate to a species of juniper tree) We have created a tradition of decorating the tree with edible goodies for the birds and coyotes of the area to enjoy. Most of the time we make bird seed ornaments with peanut butter and pine cones. But this year we decide to just leave some cinnamon raisin bagels on the branches.

After decorating the tree we find a space along the river to sit and watch the sunset while watching the migrating cranes, Canadian geese and other fowl. We usually bring a little picnic and hot beverages… It is a celebration of the final light before the longest night. The time before the days begin to get brighter. A moment of silence in nature to reflect on the year, the ups and downs, the in-betweens.

I am so grateful to have had this moment this year, because what a year 2017 has been…

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Walking along the Bosque trail.

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The path to the tree…

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My Tree Sister, who has been trimmed for passing bikers…

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Mom decorating the tree…

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We found a pine cone from years ago that we had hung on the tree with peanut butter and birdseed.

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Bagel decorations for the birds!

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Bosque Tree decorating accomplished!

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Panorama view of our Winter Solstice picnic area

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Salud to our days getting brighter!

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My inspiration for looking towards the future, one of the brightest sources in my life to help me keep going…

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EL SOL, the life force that will grace us with more and more light after today…

Winter Blessings to you and all of your loved ones, may your days not only bring you more sunlight but also more love, joy, hope and action towards change. May your kernel of courage unfurl and bring strength into 2018!

HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!

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Flying the coop: from one Tribe to another…

 

In many regional theaters there is a wall where actors can “leave their mark” to commemorate the end of a run. Sometimes it is in the dressing rooms, sometimes in a backstage hallway or in a rehearsal space. Back in 2012 I signed my first wall when I closed my first professional Equity show: Bruja by Luis Alfaro, directed by Loretta Greco. On Sunday I signed the dressing room wall at Portland Center Stage where we just closed Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles by Luis Alfaro, directed by Juliette Carillo.

The journey of this show has been one that has shifted, flowed, moved and transformed over the years. In part because of the writing, the change in casts, locations and the political climate. I myself changed with the role, as one has too. She is a woman who has so many facets, so many thoughts and feelings, just as I do. The beautiful thing about live theatre and running the same show day after day is the growth that you accomplish, the flexibility and the surprises. I learned more about my strengths, my weaknesses, my fears and desires through this myth of Medea.

I also built family with this cast, joined a Tribe. We worked on this show for a better part of the year and as this play shares, dissects and explores the many facets of family, we did that too. It is a strange thing we do in the theatre, constantly joining and separating. Creating moments that become memories…

And now we are closed. This story sleeps as December comes into the world and I reflect on the final weekend in Portland:

Andy and Irene Robinson caught the Saturday Night show with their Daughter and Son in Law. Andy was the head of my MFA program at USC and led our class through some of the hardest, challenging, fulfilling classes for 3 years. He directed us in a studio project of Ted Huges adaptations of Greek myths: Tales from Ovid and then in our final year he directed us in 12th Night. His work in the classroom/rehearsal room, was one filled with charged energy, yearning, demands, love and joy. I couldn’t believe that he was there, probably better that I didn’t know. It’s an honor to continue to create with the spirit and passion he helped me recognize in myself.

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In 2003 I formed a theatre company with an incredible group of New Mexican artists, organizers and community members. It came out of a feeling that there needed to be more Latin@ voices on our stages, more stories of authenticity. Michael was one of those creative forces that helped found Teatro Nuevo Mexico and produced my first Luis Alfaro experience when I played the title role in Electricidad. Michael, Janette Sanchez-Izenman and I all attended The University of New Mexico and continue to work in our creative arenas. They drove all the way from Seattle to complete our circle and hear our story, and I know that the fact that there is a painting behind us that highlights COMMUNITY is not an accident. Both of these folks are tearing it up in Seattle and working hard for their Tribe. UNM Lobos reunited!IMG_E5724Just before our final show we gathered on stage to recognize the culmination of this great journey…

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Our stage manager, Chris Bolender, shared this letter with us. When we were in Ashland, OR for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Mary Meagan Smith was our assistant stage manager and she sent these words to us to hear before we said goodnight to our story:IMG_5729

Probably the most emotional part of closing this show was saying good by to Jahnangel “JJ” Jimenez, the young actor who played my son. We were all overcome with the feeling of finality, of familia separating, of not breathing the same air in the same space any more…IMG_5743

He became one of us, embraced and trusted us…IMG_5739

For that I will be forever grateful…IMG_5740

I know that this world is in good hands because of JJ… he makes this a better planet to live on…IMG_5742

The obligatory empty dressing room capture…IMG_5731

Tita’s garden and all of our set props broken down and packed away…IMG_5732

The empty stage…IMG_5733

Our Tribe, Our Family, forever connected in the trials and tribulations of telling our story…

Left-Right back: Vilma Silva (Armida) Nancy Rodriguez (Josephina) Chris Bolender (Stage Manager) VIVIS (Tita) SZV (Medea) Lakin Valdez (Hason) Front: Ken Yoshikawa (Soldier)

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And now I am in New York, seeing the sights, watching plays, taking meetings, connecting with family and friends. I missed my Tribe, so I reached out to another one…

One the eve of a Full Super Moon, I gathered a few Kick Ass Womyn I knew were working and creating here in The Big Apple. Most of them I met through theatre and others I happened to meet through mutual friends. We gathered in the Parlor of Gloria Steinem’s house and had a salon. I was interested in hearing from others how they were feeling, how their creativity helped them through tough times, what are they working on, what are our dreams, who/what inspires us, how can we help each other.

We held space for each other, gifted each other with stories, laughter and truth. We also played dice, raffled off some beautiful thoughtful tokens and broke bread.

One of the activities was to take a moment in silence and write wishes for each other, express thoughts, quotes, beliefs in how to face life as a creative force. I then typed them up and sent it to the group, a manifesto of support, love and inspiration.

To remember we are not alone…

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It was a feeling I will never forget… and I hope that even after I leave NYC they will continue to connect, reach out, communicate and gather.

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Clockwise, starting under the elephant portrait: Hanna Zwyben, Rachel Jenison, Vivia Font, Regina Bain, Kristin Condon, Alexis Roblan, Adriana Gaviria, Jamie Ann Romero, Agunda Okeyo, SZV, Cassandra Lopez, Erin O’Connor and Stephanie Swirsky.

Tribe is where your heart is, we can find it if we look. If we reach out, if we invite, if we share. Taking time for self-care can be an ongoing battle for some of us. Sometimes we can find help with others. Reuniting us with that sense of family, connection and love. Saying goodbye is an opportunity to say hello…

Who are your Tribes?

Tribe Feathers circle

 

 

 

 

40 years strong!

Today my parents celebrate 40 years of Marriage!

      I sometimes wish I could have been a fly on the wall to have witnessed this day 40 years ago. From the stories I hear it sounds like it was a blast, tons of family and shenanigans. Luckily I have been blessed to witness 38 years of this bond, and through it all I have learned so much. Through the ups and the downs there have been lessons of forgiveness, flexibility, communication and love. Traditions are important. Dinner is important. Laughing and gardening are important. Family is important. Silence is important and writing cards and letters are important. Celebrating is important.

     Since I moved away from NM, my parents and I have been able to visit a lot of different places together depending on where I landed an acting gig. In each town we explore the food and sights and just hang out in a different environment, and this is something I cherish so much. So even though I don’t get to celebrate with them in person on this day, they are going to be coming to Portland soon and we get to have another adventure!

I cannot wait…..

Maria Varela & Lorenzo Zuniga married on November 5th 1977

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Sunlight gracing the bride to be getting ready with help from my Aunt Frances as my cousin Gabe looks on…

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The best man, my Uncle Clyde, and my father strutting to the church before the ceremony, caught in a moment of style and coolness…

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Mom and Dad joined together on this day in 1977 

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Exchanging rings, those beautiful gold artistic bands that I’ve been looking at for decades…

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Adventure on the Venice Boardwalk

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One of my favorite photos of the two of them. 

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad, I love you!

If you are reading this and have any memories or stories to share about their wedding day please do so in the comments below!

 

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