Jimmy Noriega and Colleague Receive Collaborative Research Award
College of Wooster professor joins Contra Costa College’s Carlos Chavarria in development of new play
WOOSTER, Ohio — Jimmy Noriega, assistant professor of theatre and Latin American studies at The College of Wooster, and Carlos Chavarria of Contra Costa College have received the prestigious Collaborative Research Award from the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) for their work on the development of Joto!: Confessions of a Mexican Outcast, a play written and performed by Chavarria and directed and dramaturged by Noriega.
The play explores what it means to be a queer, undocumented Latino living in the United States. It is based on interviews and the playwright's autobiography, and touches upon the difficulties of living on the margins of multiple communities, as well as the impact of law and social stigma in the areas of education, family, love, and the arts. It also explores the intersections of mixed-status gay relationships in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
“As queer rights are gaining more traction across the nation, undocumented individuals are increasingly coming under attack,” said Noriega. “This new theatrical play situates itself between these two national/political trends, offering a unique perspective from which to understand the dually marginalized role of the queer Latino. For these reasons, this project is a timely one that should appeal to a number of individuals.”
The ASTR committee based its evaluation on the degree to which the proposed exchange and outcomes fulfill the purpose of the award, which is to foster collaborative research across different academic and artistic contexts, and/or different national contexts. The award also enables reciprocal visits between the recipients and their campuses, which will allow Noriega and Chavarria to interact with one another’s students and speak about collaboration in the theatre.
The committee was pleased to support a project that integrates both theory and artistic practice, and one that unites two scholars at very different institutions, according to an ASTR spokesperson. The group was particularly impressed by the way this project will benefit not only these scholars, but also their students and campus communities.
“It’s a privilege to have our artistic work supported by a research society,” said Noriega. “The development of a new text and production takes a lot of work. With this award, we now have the time and support needed to develop our play further. Our goal is to take the show to multiple locales and to use it as an avenue by which to discuss issues of immigration status and sexual identity in relation to belonging and love.”
The ASTR grant is designed to foster long-term relationships benefiting faculty who work in different types of institutional environments and to foster the exchange of research in subject areas underrepresented in U.S. theatre scholarship, pedagogy, and performance practice.
The production will be performed at Wooster and Contra Costa sometime in 2016 and will be followed by a tour. “It’s an extremely timely and necessary piece,” said Noriega. “We hope this play has a long life and that it will touch many people.”