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“a theater that cares [about] its surrounding community…producing vitally relevant and topical work." - Joel Beers, OC Weekly

Since it re-emergence in 2015 Breath of Fire continues to strive to support its mission and  to serve as an incubator for underrepresented voices in theater by providing programming that offers guidance in the art of storytelling, playwriting, producing, and acting. These workshops bring seasoned writers, playwrights, and actors to facilitate high quality theater making workshops for local Orange County residents at no cost. No one is ever turned away for lack of experience. We are able to do this work through our Cal State Univeristy of Fullerton’s Grand Central Arts Center artist residency in Downtown Santa Ana and donations made possible by individual supporters like you. We are volunteered based organization. Want to help support? Donate today! paypal.me/breathoffiretheater

Breath of Fire, the only Latina theater company in Orange County. Based in downtown Santa Ana—the corazón of the county—came into existence over fifteen years ago to support the work and enrich the lives of Latinas in the performing arts, to provide representation, opportunities and leadership roles in traditional arts communities. In that time, it has produced more than 20 world premieres. OC Weekly and the Examiner.com named its production of Cherrie Moraga’s world premiere play, Digging Up the Dirt , co-produced with Moraga’s See-what production imade possible by a 2010 National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Master Artist Grant, Best of 2010 lists. 

MISSION: 

To Support & Enrich The Lives Of Latinas In Visual & Performing Arts 

Vision: 

    ⁃    Serves as an incubator for underrepresented voices in theater from 

    ⁃    Believes in the transformative power of theater

    ⁃    Aims to raise awareness of critical issues in the community

    ⁃    To entertain and challenge

    ⁃    Foster cross-cultural understanding

    ⁃    Be a catalyst for personal healing and social justice

by Adriana Alba

July 2017

 

--Art that questions, probes, and confronts.

-- Art that pries open spaces and dialogue.

--Art that reveals both interconnectedness and fragile seams in our society.  

 

These are indeed challenging times, but the challenges making headlines are not new to members of Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble or its community.  The xenophobia, transphobia, discrimination, and mean-spiritedness that carried in from the 2016 campaign season and current political climate -has been a fact of life for the writers or actors that make up our group. While many artistic communities throughout the country recoiled in horror at the 2016 election results, we nod in recognition--by now we expect them as inevitable themes for each campaign cycle.

We are in Orange County, after all: once headquarters of national xenophobic and anti-immigrant groups and organizations.  This is the county that birthed Richard Nixon, John Birch Societies, and the Minuteman Project.  A recent, LA Times article by Chapman University Political Scientist, Fred Smoller, recalls that, “as recently as 1988, the Republican party illegally hired private uniformed guards — some holding signs saying "Non-Citizens Can't Vote" in English and Spanish — to ‘monitor’ polling places in Santa Ana.” 

Gustavo Arellano, (former editor of OC Weekly), once named Orange County the “Mexican-bashing capital of the United States.” He wrote, “Our racist sneezes become national hurricanes,” in his review of The Mexican O.C. the play that originally brought Breath of Fire Latina Ensemble to fruition.  The production of The Mexican O.C. highlighted long history of Mexican American struggle and resistance in Orange County and framed years of productions that continuously provided a platform to stories often marginalized from mainstream theater.  It was accompanied important shift in demographic and culture for the entire county—

The county has become a minority majority, and its politics has begun to reflect that…

Despite these demographic changes, Breath of Fire remains the only Latina theater company in Orange County. While we began as a group focused on theater production, the organization when it reemerged (summer 2015) shifted its efforts to become an incubator for voices who hold untold/under-told stories through theater and playwriting  workshops.

“The community of Breath of Fire Writers and the ensemble members, who are luminaries and so dear to me, all help create this extraordinary space that ignites so much creativity and connection.” Angela Apodaca of Breath of Fire

“Through 2016 retreats and workshops, I have been able to connect with leaders in education and have produced two ten minute plays. I have built great professional relationships and a safe community for sharing my writing. I am cultivating an aesthetic for my work and a path as a writer. Most importantly, I have made amazing friends.” Yasmin Madadi of Breath of Fire. 

 “The leadership of the group… are so dedicated to your writing and the facilitation of us writers – {it] is a beautiful symphony of love, dedication, and passion.” Yolanda Mendiveles of Breath of Fire.

The voices and stories are here, but unfortunately the spaces facilitate the craft produce the arts that come with it are scarce.  

Funding from the California Arts Council Grant has provided a valuable space for the community to go beyond catharsis and inspire action. “The workshop series came about from a desire to create a supportive space for individuals looking to explore writing and give voice to their experiences and imagination,” states Breath of Fire founding artistic director, Sara Guerrero.

Joel Beers recently praised the Breath of Fire as an example to follow during these times. “More theaters need to follow that lead and create a sense that the local playhouse is not only an escape from the daily grind, but also a sanctuary for expression, community, catharsis and, above all else, the real, hard work that is desperately needed in times of turmoil,” he wrote in “OC Theater People: Get Off Facebook and Into the Trenches Against Trump.” 

Since our launch of our free workshops covered Playwriting Fundamentals to Revision and Feedback and provided participants with guidance from prestigious and experienced playwrights that included José Cruz González, Kristina Leach, Estela Garcia, Diana Burbano, Armando Molina, Kimberly Colburn, Bernardo Solano, Jose Casas, Karen Anzoategui, Paul S. Flores, Monica Palacios, Cathy Arellano, Lorna Silva, Richard Soto, Anatalia Vallez, Elizabeth Isela Szekeresh, Sara Guerrero, Ser Anzoategui, Gabriel Llamas, Frank Muñoz and the list continues. Over 1000+ community members have participated. Many new works of plays and stories have been crafted. We can’t wait to see how many more will emerge as staged productions!

Artistic Leadership, Board 

& Ensemble 

SARA

GUERRERO

DIANA

BURBANO

ADRIANA

ALBA

ANGELA

ESTELA

MOORE

YOLANDA

MENDIVELES

ELIZABETH

ISELA 

SZEKERESH

Founding Artistic Director

Literary Director 

Teaching Artist

Creative Associate

Board Secretary 

Board President

Ensemble

Board Treasurer 

Ensemble

Managing Director

Teaching Artist

Santi Sámano, Ensemble
Victoria Yvette Zepeda, Ensemble 
Anatalia Vallez, Ensemble/ Teaching Artist 
Jacqueline Castañeda, Ensemble
Eloise Coopersmith, Ensemble
Victoria Flores, Ensemble 
Shanelle Darlene, Ensemble 
Yásaman Madadi, Ensemble 
Tiffany McQuay, Ensemble
Mildred Lewis, Ensemble
Moises Vázquez, Ensemble/ Teaching Artist 
Lorna Silva, Teaching Artist
Estela Garcia, Teaching Artist
Richard Soto, Teaching Artist
Fernando Funes, Teaching Artist
Marcus Omari, Teaching Artist

Challenging times REQUIRE Challenging art

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