In today's Blog Hijack, Kendra Augstin and Patricia Cardona Roca talk about the inaguaral Leela NYC Theatre Festival!
Patricia and I had our first meeting about the Leela NYC Theatre festival on May 30, 2015 on the second floor of the Whole Foods at union square. One day shy of my two year anniversary of moving to New York City. The festival was born out of a desire for Patricia and I to work as actresses. I’ve always had a Julius Caesar like ambition, but never found another like myself. So, when she proposed, initially, that we created something about underrepresented women in history it snowballed into creating something for artists who felt underrepresented. Our desire was to allow actors to play roles without saying things like “She’s not thin enough. He’s too tall. She can’t play his mother insert reason.” In this festival, Patricia took part in two plays that had nothing to do with her accent. I played three different roles: actress, director, and playwright. It was a chance for us to be in charge of our career trajectory and offer our friends and peers the opportunity to play with us.
This festival was built on the beautiful relationships we formed in our short time in New York. We came to the city on a mission. I didn’t come here to build a nice quiet life. I came to lay down a foundation so strong that worrying about my future would eventually not be something persistent on my mind. Since Patricia had a short time in New York, she came here to see what she can do for herself in the one year she had to stay. She realized that by waiting for someone to cast her, she might leave New York without having done anything outside of her conservatory program. I just have to say what an honor it is to find someone who is as intense as you are. So often, we dream too big by the standards of others that we feel delusional. So when you meet someone who says “Let’s do this”, and you say “Yeah!” and you both follow through it’s such a good feeling. It shows you that regardless of the naysayers and disbelievers filling your head with doubt that you can do the “impossible”, and in doing the impossible we show others that maybe anything is possible.
The purpose of the Leela NYC Theatre Festival is to give actors a chance to play roles that go beyond their type: accent, age, skin color, size, gender and sexual orientation to show the audience a reality that is not always portrayed in the media, theater or film.
Leela is a Sanskrit name that means to play. It´s also, in Hinduism, the playful aspect of the divine mother that plays with the cosmos. We chose the name because we wanted to play with the plays to fulfill our mission, and goal.
MAGIC written by Kendra Augustin. Directed by Ramiro Antonio Sandoval. Assistant Directed by Carmen Bola. Starring Patricia Cardona Roca and Jovannei Arroyo.
INVOICE written by Pablo Paz. Directed by Brock Hill. Starring Jax Jackson and J.P. Makowski
BURYING ELEPHANTS written by Robin Rice Lichtig. Directed by Kendra Augustin. Starring Kelsey Rodriguez and Sarah Sutliff.
HAPPY HAMSTER BIRTHDAY Book and music by Christiana Cole. Directed by Adam Chisnall. Starring Abbie Krentz, Anthony Castellano, Kevin Necciai, Kristopher Casey, Cait Murphy. Accompanists Noriko Sunamoto and Ayako Higuchi
THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY written by Yani Perez. Directed by Pablo Paz. Starring Vicky Malena, Victoria Freire, Simi Toledano, and Kerry Kong
SUICIDE CLUB written by Mario Fratti. Directed by Christin Eve Cato. Starring Patricia Cardona Roca, Tyler Gardella, Polly Reavis
PHILOCTETES written by Sander Gusinow. Directed by Noelle Mauri. Starring Kendra Augustin and Doug Rossi
Stage Manager: Laysha Duran
Lights: Chelsie McPhilimy and John Salutz
Sound: Gabriel Garcia
Hosts: Gabriela Garcia and Irene Turri
Dialect Coach: Jordan Yanco