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Meet Ariana Cook of Cara Mía Theatre Co. in City Center and South Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariana Cook.

Ariana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Cara Mía Theatre Co. is a non-profit theatre company that presents live accessible theatre by producing critically acclaimed published plays and creating new and experimental works while developing innovative and educational youth arts programming reflective of the Latino experience in the U.S.

In 1996, Cara Mía Theatre Co. filled a void in the Dallas arts community by becoming the first Dallas theater to focus on the Mexican-American experience. Cara Mía assured Mexican-American audiences that their bilingual and bicultural experiences were represented regularly on Dallas stages. Co-Founder, Eliberto Gonzalez cites the San Antonio book fair as a catalyst for founding Cara Mía Theatre Co. Feeling that Latino literature and its writers ought to be more accessible to the public, he began a theatre company. Along with Adelina Anthony, Eliberto founded the company as a vehicle to bring the Chicano/ Latino US experience expressed in literature to the public. Since that time, the cultural breadth of CMTC’s plays expanded over the years, the company’s artistic approach has matured, especially since the arrival of current Executive Artistic Director David Lozano in 2002. To expand the company’s reach to non-theatre going Latinos, Lozano chose to focus on creating new bilingual plays that were both topical and theatrically unique. Trained in physical theatre, Lozano formed a resident artistic ensemble that began to devise new works inspired by international forms of physical theatre such as clown and mask performance, poetic movement and collectively created plays that simultaneously speak to the experiences of the local Latino community in Dallas. Today, CMTC boasts of a 16-member resident artistic ensemble that creates new works and also produces classic plays by the most acclaimed Latino playwrights in the nation. Cara Mía Theatre Co. celebrates its 22nd anniversary during the 2017-2018 season. Cara Mía has become a cultural resource in Dallas and North Texas, producing world premieres of major Mexican-American writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Cherrie Morraga. Cara Mía has also produced original plays written collectively by the artistic ensemble and by local Dallas writers that have received critical acclaim from Dallas-Fort Worth media.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being a non-profit is not without its challenges. Funding for our programming comes from state and city entities, individuals, foundations, and corporations. We rely on the generosity of others in order to serve our community. It is always a challenge to raise money for our annual budget particularly as a culturally specific organization. However, especially in recent years, Cara Mía has grown exponentially with the support of the community

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cara Mía Theatre Co. – what should we know?
Cara Mía Theatre Co. is the largest Latinx theatre company in the South producing 4 – 5 theatrical productions each year focusing on the Latinx experience in the United States, however, not all the shows are limited to the Latinx demographic. We encourage people to experience and celebrate culture by attending our shows and outreach events. Cara Mía Theatre Co. encourages social responsibility and community pride from our patrons. Curated community conversations accompany all theatrical productions in an effort to catalyze discussion and action surrounding themes from the shows. In addition to a full season of theatrical offerings and outreach events, Cara Mía Theatre provides fine art education through after-school residencies, workshops, and bi-lingual touring productions. Finally, Cara Mía Theatre also created and programmed the School of YES! The School of YES! is a multi-disciplinary arts academy in Southern Dallas. The mission of The School of YES! is to give young people the skills to say “yes” to a future of their choice rather than feel pressured into a future defined by their environment. The School of YES! offers free tuition to at-risk youth in communities of color throughout the year after-school at specific school locations. The School of YES! is also open to all applicants for a month long summer camp in June and July for ages 7 – 14 with ten paid student leadership positions offered to applicants ages 15 – 18.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are so many people who have been crucial to Cara Mía’s success, primarily our board of directors and founding members. Their vision and dedication to this programming ensures that proper representation and celebration of the Latinx culture is realized.

Pricing:

  • Tickets: $10 – $25 for theatrical productions
  • Community Conversations: Free
  • Youth Arts Education Programs: Free after acceptence

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Adolfo Cantú Villarreal, TZOM Films, Linda Blase, Karen Almond

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