By Abigail Vega
It’s tough to name things.
Think about how long some parents take to name their kids. It can take days. WEEKS. Giving something a name is difficult because once you’ve named it, you’ve defined it and confined it to a space, regardless of whether you intended to or not, and people make assumptions about it based on that name. For instance, my father refused to name me Isabel because he “didn’t want the kids at school to call me Izzy the Dizzy.” (Yeah, a WHOLE lot less harmful than being named something that rhymes with ANNABEL the COW. But I digress.)
So naming things is stressful. This stress was felt by Alex and I this week, as we struggled to come up with the perfect name for Teatro Luna’s new apprenticeship program. This is a little bit how the conversation went:
Alex Meda: Okay, we’re not leaving here until we come up with name for the apprenticeship program.
Abigail Vega: I want more coffee.
ABM: Focus. Okay, I think we need a number in the title. How about twelve?
AEV: Why twelve?
ABM: I don’t know, twelve disciples? Isn’t that how many disciples Jesus had? It was the number of our founding g…
AEV: That’s stupid. Why would we name our program after Jesus’ followers?
AEV: Seven. That’s holy number. Let’s do seven.
ABM: Seven is overrated. I don’t like it.
AEV: Hey, I got a Facebook message! It’s from Richard Perez!
ABM: FOCUS. This is the thirteenth season. Latinos often think its a lucky number. What about incorporating the number 13 in the name?
AEV: Let’s Wikipedia it!
And so we did. Here are some interesting facts we found about the number 13:
– Most years have 13 lunar cycles (hey girl!)
– In Mesoamerican cultures, 13 is the feminine number
– Traditionally, a coven is made up of 13 witches (I’ll keep that in mind next time I host a coven)
– In office lore, “File 13” is a euphemism for the circular file or the garbage basket. (“Oh yeah, that totally unprofessional headshot/resume with middle school credits on it? I put it in File 13.”)
– In many buildings, the 13th floor is skipped because it is perceived as “unlucky.” Many of these buildings simply skip from the 12th to the 14th floor.
So with that, F13 was born. A combination of the “missing” and ignored 13th floor, our own metaphor of the way young female artists of color are often treated in their college and university training programs (“But we just don’t know what to do with you!” “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Mexican monologues for you.”)
In the “real world,” actors of color are often passed up because “they don’t have the training.” We can most often interpret this to mean they don’t have the experience, because they haven’t had the same stage time as their white classmates. I went to a pretty progressive college, and I still saw the kids with darker skin than mine be passed up time and time again in the casting process. After all, wasn’t there a black play next semester?
So this year, we’re doing what we can to change the norm. We’re providing eight women of color with twelve months of intensive training, development and mentorship. They will take classes in acting, playwriting, dramaturgy and script analysis. They will receive training in devising, directing, producing and writing their own stories. They will work with master teachers from all over the country, and build relationships to arts leaders from across the Midwest. They will create their own track of learning, and learn to be true teatristas, creators of theatre.
We’re done complaining. We’ve articulated the problem. Now, let’s do our part to fix it.
Interested in learning more about F13? Download a 1 page overview here. Deadline to apply is November 20th, 2013. Stay tuned for details about this program on our website and social media.