Thursday, August 13, 2015
Spotlight On...Javier Rivera
Hometown: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Education: BA in Theatre and Education. MFA in Acting and Directing
Favorite Credits: Daniel in Kissing Fidel (world premiere), Wild Boy in Wild Boy The Musical (world premiere), Michael Evans in Dancing At Lughnasa
Why theater?: I am an artist in a SOUL LEVEL. I speak in poetry. I process information in images. No matter what I hear, it’s in the form of music. That is to say that I am fluent in a creative language; what I give to the world, and what I take from it, is all in shapes and tones and colors. I break down even the most mundane of events in dramatic structure, then I proceed to mentally plot out and design what this event would look like, sound like, even feel like (to an audience) in, for example, a small black-box or a huge proscenium space. It’s a disease! I can’t stop thinking about my daily routine in creative terms…and I find that theatre is the craft which allows me to manifest this innate desire to express the best. Theatre truly encompasses all the art forms for me, and I am quite creatively greedy, I need to be able to use sound, text, color, composition, and characterization, in order to feel whole on an artistic level.
Tell us about Salve Regina: A Coming Of GAY Story: My one man show is my story, the story of a young boy who grew up in Puerto Rico, in a household where religion and typical Latino machismo informed EVERY ASPECT of life. Needless to say it was not the most nurturing environment to deal with a repressed sexuality. But we do find our guides in the oddest of places. Madonna, the pop singer, surprisingly served as a spiritual sherpa of sorts, guiding me through the most difficult life obstacles imaginable. Her music and her presence brought great solace to my life. A life where I felt misunderstood by everyone. When she sang True Blue, I knew she was singing to me. The play is a humorous yet moving look at the coming out process. A play that deals (as the title implies) with three Queens: The Queen of the heavens (Virgin Mary), the Queen of Pop (Madonna), and this Queen right here!
What inspired you to write Salve Regina: A Coming Of GAY Story: Three years ago I directed a good friend in her original one-woman show (which premiered in Washington, DC) about the gentrification of the U Street Corridor in DC. I was so moved, so inspired by her that I found myself asking, “What about me? What about my story? Isn't my story worth telling?”. As soon as I got home from rehearsal, fearing my procrastination would take hold, I forced myself to write ONE PAGE. One page of anything. I knew if I broke the seal, the rest would come…and it did.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Provocative art speaks to me, art that is more interested in making me think rather than entertain me. Playwrights Bertol Brecht, Tracy Letts, Martin McDonagh, display such a ferociously dark aesthetic, that it is frightening to take in their work…and that fear that overcomes you in the darkness of the theatre is the one thing that keeps you awake, questioning what you are watching, and rethinking what you thought you knew. THIS is the theatre that excites me. I do not want pleasantries when the curtain goes up.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would just die if I could collaborate on ANY level with Pedro Almodovar. I view him as a theatre artist more than anything. Going back to my own personal aesthetic…Almodovar utilizes colors, sounds, character and plot development, in a beautifully cohesive way. His work is visceral in a way film rarely is. I am curious as to how he is able to make me feel as if I am watching live theatre when in reality I have just popped in a DVD. THAT is a unique talent.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I remember seeing Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County when it premiered at Steppenwolf, and I just could not shut up about it. I was shaken by its gritty reality…naturalism at its best. A close second (or maybe it’s the other way around) was The Seagull, when it played the Delacorte Theatre as part of the Shakespeare In the Park Festival in New York City, starring Meryl Streep (and everyone else!)…so moving, so passionate, and ultimately incredibly heart-breaking.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Oh dear…well, one of the things I have discovered from performing in my original one-man show, is that no one can tell your story better than you can…so…me. I would be cast as me. And it would certainly be titled Salve Regina…the name is just too perfect.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I am a huge fan of the late, great, Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia. I would have loved to have seen his Petruchio opposite Streep’s Katherine.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Chocolate
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: If I were not a theatre artist I would certainly be a Kindergarten teacher…the imagination of a four/five year old holds the key to all secrets.
What’s up next?: The award-winning (United Solo Theatre Festival 2014 BEST ACTOR AWARD) Salve Regina: A Coming Of GAY Story will play Chicago’s Center On Halsted (3656 North Halsted Street) on August 22 and 23.
For more on Javier and Salve Regina: A Coming of GAY Story, visit http://www.javier-rivera.net/salve-regina-a-coming-of-gay-story.html and www.centeronhalsted.org