The LIFESTYLE Feature series expands. Tonight we add two new voices to the ongoing conversation. Hannah Connor and Flor Macías Delgado are two creators and agents of change that come to us from Madrid by way of Washington DC, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Maine, Bologna, and Amsterdam. These two minds engage with the interview on a personal level and bring us their unique perspectives on Reflection and Response and experiences directing the Madrid theatre group “The Auxiliares” for their performances of Eve Ensler’s award winning play, The Vagina Monologues opening on March 11th.
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
HC: I tell people I’m from Washington, DC. I moved there when I was 10 years old and I feel like the city has defined a huge part of who I am. Free museums, beautiful cherry blossom trees, AND Barack Obama, who couldn’t love it?! But I was actually born in a small town in Maine and grew up in a farm house that was 200 years old. My dad wanted to have goats, but instead he had three daughters…
Right now I’m living in Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright grant. By day I teach at a bilingual high school in the outskirts on Madrid and by night I explore the millions of things to do around Madrid, cook exotic foods and play board games.
FMD: It’s a complicated question, really; and never coming to terms with answering that question is what has guided my interests in life. I am originally from Los Angeles, CA but I moved to Mexico City when I was five years old and lived there for ten years. I spent the last three years of high school in Los Angeles, then moved to Philadelphia for college. Besides that, I have lived in Bologna, Italy; Amsterdam; and most recently Madrid, where I’ll be until next summer. After that, who knows. I have yet to figure out my next move! There is so much of the world left to see!
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
HC: Before I go to sleep at night, I often lie in bed and think about three positive or happy things that happened that day. Sometimes they are little things like someone saying hello as they pass me on the street or bigger events, such as, finally finishing a project that I was working on. I think that reflections (whether daily, weekly, or whenever it feels right) is an incredibly important part of being in touch with yourself and the world around you. They are a way of looking back and asking yourself “Am I doing what I want to do with my life? Am I spending my time that way I want it to be spent?”
Reflections are how we notice what is happening in the world. And response is what we do in reaction to those reflections. Our responses are the actions we take to work towards ending injustice and improving the lives of ourselves and those around us.
FMD:I think any art is a reaction, whether it is to a social cause, or your mere inspiration, art is always a response. I want to direct, write and produce pieces that make you reflect about society, and incite an immediate response from the audience. I think that pieces that leave the audience in a happy state of “Aw, that was nice” are a waste of time. I want people to have a definite reaction to my art: be it anger, shock, or even disgust. I want to bring to light issues that are not usually talked about in theater pieces. I am all for the responses.
How does The Vagina Monologues fit in with that definition?
HC: The Vagina Monologues (TVM) and the entire V-day movement is a response to violence toward women. TVM is a play based on interviews with women that raises awareness about issues related to women. The monologues cover a range of emotions and many topics, focusing on women’s sexuality and the stigma surrounding rape and sexual assault. Discussing these issues, especially through a theatrical work, is a powerful way of creating a conversation about these very important topics.
FMD: The Vagina Monologues is all about inciting the audience to reflect on women’s issues and has brief episodes of audience participation. It’s not a play you watch and then go out and live your life the same way. It challenges you to do something to stop violence towards women. At some productions, people are asked to stand if they–or someone they know–has ever been a victim of sexual violence. I am always shocked to see how many women stand up. The first time I was ever involved in TVM I couldn’t believe how many of them were people I knew personally. It really did change me. It made me see that TVM wasn’t just a play, it was part of a movement, and it did more than just entertain people for an hour and a half.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
HC: In college I studied urban studies, and as a city lover, I’ve been spending my time in Madrid learning about the history and confluence of cultures in the city. Over the next half year, while I’m still living here, I’m excited to continue these explorations.
At the end of the school year I’m planning on moving back to the States and next year I’ll hopefully be teaching in a public school in a city back home. Our urban education system in the United States needs a lot of work and I’m looking forward to becoming part of the movement to fix it.
FMD: Artistically, I have been quite dormant. I have been working on grad school applications, specifically to Migration and Ethnic Studies programs around Europe. I am interested in working with immigrant teens, and using art and theatre as means for social change. I currently work at two high schools in Madrid and plan cultural activities that challenge the students to look at their culture from a different standpoint. I want them to talk about racism, gay rights, discrimination, abortion, and what those issues mean to them as Spanish teens. I try to keep busy learning French, and getting involved with animal rights activism.
Who or what inspires you?
HC: More than anything I’m inspired by people who find unique ways to follow their passions and impact the world in a positive way. Besides these people who make my life interesting and eventful, I’m inspired by the little things that keep me smiling every day: watching the sunrise over the Reina Sofia on my way to work, seeing the masses of people constantly walking on the streets of Madrid, or drinking tea at one of my favorite cafes.
FMD: I am constantly looking for inspiration and find it in the simplest ways. My students inspire me. Working with teenagers is what I want to do in life, and their passion for living is refreshing. They see the world in a different way, they believe they can achieve anything they set out for, and I think that as we get older we lose part of that. We become more realistic and forget the passion we had when younger. I see inspiration in simple acts of kindness. I want to create art that inspires people to do something about the society they live in. I want to inspire change in some way. Lately, I have been obsessed with “What Would You Do?” clips, so I would also have to say that John Quiñones is the man.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
HC: Come see the Vagina Monologues!! If you are in Madrid, our show is going to be baller. And if you are somewhere else in the world, find a show near you!
And just as importantly: Stay informed on the issues. One in three women on this planet will be impacted by violence in her lifetime. That is an alarmingly high number. The first step in changing those statistics is being aware of the facts. Change comes from within and every person on this planet can do their part in ending violence against women.
FMD: We are really proud of our cast and crew, and cannot wait until we put up our bilingual production in Madrid. Also, we are always looking for help, so if you are in Madrid and want to get involved, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shout out to…?
HC: All the “Bobs” of the world! One of the Monologues in TVM,Because He Liked to Look at It, is about a woman who learns to love vaginas after she is with a guy named Bob. Bob loves vaginas and understands how they are magical, beautiful, powerful, and oh so very important (we all came from a vagina!). We need more men like him in the world!
FMD: Eve Ensler, the author of TVM; and all artists, and activists who work hard to make the world a better place. My very own “Bob” and my mom, hi mom!
-Reflection and Response.